Monday, March 9, 2009

Pot Holes on Confidence Rd.

When a business is based on creative interpretation, there are bound to be major ups and downs in levels of confidence. Voice over (along with acting, art, etc) would likely make a top 5 list for jobs that truly test your self esteem.

Take the last 6 months for example...I never knew relocating a voice over business would test me to the limits that it did. There were times that I knew everything was going to be just fine, that my clients would stick with me, and that my studio would finally come together. Then there were days I was ready to pack it in and head to Walmart for a people greeter application.

Of course, you don't need to look back over months or years to see the roller coaster of emotion our job can bring. Here is a little of the feedback I've received just over the last 12 hours for a variety of projects: "Very good! I don't know if we could afford you though.", "very nice job", "Thanks! I think it was just written a few words too long but you made it work and sound great!" Not bad, right? Well, here is some feedback I received for a mock audition I recorded for fun for a voice over message board..."Sorry, but the young girl sound may not fly for this purpose", "Perhaps not the right voice for a dramatic read with “bold, driving” music, maybe too young sounding to be the voice of wisdom. But could possibly work well with softer, more Hallmark-type music. " Hm, not so good huh?

I share these examples simply to illustrate my point. Along Confidence Rd, we will all encounter speed bumps and pot holes. It's the way life goes. The important thing is not to ride too high during the good moments, and not to fall too low during the not-so-good moments.

How do you do this? Here are a few of the tricks I like to use. When I'm feeling especially self conscious or nervous, I picture my resume in my head. Seriously! I think back to all of my successes, and all of the projects I've had the great privilege to be a part of. If it's a particularly bad day, I will go back and read my client testimonials. Truth be told- I did this so many times over the past 6 months to help keep my confidence up, I actually had the 'Kudos' section of my website moved to the front page to make it easier for me to get to! Hah!

As for those 'riding too high' moments I find that any time my ego starts to swell, life always has a way of putting me back in my place. When this happens, I like to consider what lesson I can learn from the negative comments, or low moments. How can I use those speed bumps and pot holes to better myself in the long run? For the above negative feedback, I learned that I need to consider not just the message of the script, but what the overall intent for the project is. Instead of doing what I do best, I need to stretch myself in new and different ways.

Voice over is always full of surprises. So, while you want to avoid the dips and peaks- sometimes it's good to head straight for them! Recently I was asked to audition for the role of a mom voice for a TV spot. This was way out of my comfort zone, as I'm known for my young sound- but I decided to face the risk of rejection and just go for it! I was shocked when I was cast, and I had the pleasure of recording the spot last week. I truly surprised myself when a mom emerged right before my eyes! If I hadn't risked falling into the pot hole- I wouldn't have discovered this great little detour in my journey! Now I know I can take that 'mom' road whenever I choose- and I can do so confidently!

So, how do you keep yourself safe on Confidence Rd? What do you do to avoid the obstacles, and how do you handle it when you inevitably find those obstacles in your path?


Chris Wagner said...

Kara, this is a really great post. It's nice to see that others also try to wrap their heads around the rough patches in this business.. The Pot Hole analogy is right on!

It's true, this is a fickle business, it's hard to keep your chin up and smile when sometimes all you hear is "no", "not quite", "loved it, but it's not just what we need now.. we'll keep you on file for the future"... or one of the worst things to hear (especially when starting out).. is hearing nothing.

Thank you for taking the time to share the ups and downs.. and for the good solid advice. And congrats on landing the Mom role.. I definately could see you doing that!

You go girl!

Amy Snively said...

Cool! That's exactly what I do, too! It usually works, but sometimes I do lose my confidence. Last week I kind of lost my nerve and then one of those awesome gigs happened to me where the client really appreciated my work and heaped on the praise.

As for the mock audition. I was really excited about doing it, until I saw the script. Then I realized it would be largely a useless exercise for me, so I didn't follow through. I know my voice is not right for every piece of copy, and this script was a good illustration of that. So I opted out. I'm impressed with you that you went for it!

I wish there had been a separate piece of copy for the women, or at least an 'ambisexterous' choice for all!

Kara Edwards said...


You hit on a good point- hearing nothing. I think that happens more in our business than hearing any feedback at all. And, at times, the silence can be quite loud! Thank you for the comment and the kind words!


Over the years, I've found there is a balance between the good and bad, which helps keep me almost sane :). I knew that copy wasn't right for my voice as well- but I can never seem to resist a chance to play with the big boys- hah!! Thank you for the comment!


Greg Houser said...


I'm confused, but which one of the feedbacks was the negative one?

I see a lot of nice feedback, one where the client thinks you might be out of their budget (did they even ask before assuming that you wouldn't/couldn't work within their budget?), and one where you weren't the right type of voice for the read.

Bob Bergen had a great line that gets me out of my head when I need it. It's not that I didn't do well at the audition, just that my voice wasn't what they needed... this time.

(unless I know for a fact that I sucked at an audition... in which case it turns into a question of why, and what I need to work on to bring it to a higher level)

I like the comment about using your resume as a mental image and reminder of your talent. Personally, I've always viewed VO as a marathon, so I expected to deal with stuff like this. Each booking, each upgrade, each workshop is a step along that journey. Thankfully, I have more than a few people who have been supportive in my efforts, from folks who are at the top of the VO game, to friends and family, to folks who barely know me at work (but have to listen to my work day in, day out). If I ever really get down on myself because things aren't going as fast as I'd like I think about all those folks who I know are cheering me on... considering how many of them have nothing invested in my success or failure, there's got to be a reason I've got such a loyal "fanbase". That's because they believe in what I'm doing and in my abilities. There are a lot of tricks I've found that can get me out of my head, but this is probably the one that works the best for me.



Kara Edwards said...


My mom had a similar saying as we were growing up, "Life ain't nothing but a pig show". If you've ever shown pigs, you know that there really isn't anything that makes one pig better than another- but one does have to win! I like to repeat that saying quite often- so Bob is right on! Thank you for sharing the ways that you keep your confidence high, good stuff!


Anonymous said...

Well, now, I'd pick the pig with the lipstick, but that's just me. LOL!!

All kidding aside, you know, I didn't think my voice would be a good choice for that mock audition either. But I gave it a shot anyway. My coach has been known to say something to the effect of no matter what the copy, don't let your ego get in the way. The way I see it is, it's not up to me to decide what sound they want, it's up to them... so I'll offer them me, and if it's what they need, great, if not, that's fine too. I can't be all things to all people.

I like Greg/Bob Bergen's thought: My voice isn't what they needed, this time.

Hugs... Caryn (Clark)

Kara Edwards said...


Thank you for your comment- I like the way your coach thinks! And, you did a wonderful job on the mock audition- kudos to you!!


Deelsu said...

You're the best Kara no matter what! :)
I'm not in the voiceover world but I am in the TV producing world. I keep my confidence up by remembering that everyone has their own opinion.
As my Dad has always said - you please part of the people part of the time but not all the people all of the time. :)

Deelsu said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kara Edwards said...


Very well said, your dad is spot on! And you are certainly the best TV producer I know! :)


Adam Fox said...


Great post! I love reading your posts. I think we can all agree that it's a great gift you share to be so open and honest with anyone who wishes to read about your daily triumphs AND struggles.

I know too, that my voice has a particular quality to it that people want, and that's why I get the calls. Bob Oakman is the same way, he is as busy as he is pretty much because the people want "That Concert Spot Guy".

I also wonder when I don't get the gig, what it might be, and Chris' point is very valid. What happens when you don't hear back?

Well, what I've discovered on my own, is something that we all know deep down, but never want to admit. Yes, it's maybe that our voice isn't right "This Time" and what a great quote from Bob Bergen (via Greg) :) but there's the other factor that has also become very poignant in these trying economic times.

Imagine yourself as a Creative ad person, who has to post that job to search for a talent. You're behind schedule, everyone wants it yesterday and you post the ad for the spot on a place like

In the next hour, you receive 250 auditions from all kinds of people that are all in the same budget ballpark, and all pretty much get the overall jist of the gig.

You know from past experience that in the next hour you'll get another 250 or so, and by the end of the day you could have a thousand auditions to go through.

So you listen to the first 10 seconds of the first 10 Auditions, and if you find one that will work, you pick it and delete the rest..

That happens allot too. It's quite often not even anything that you are not doing to get the gig, or something that you could improve upon, but that you just didn't get your audition in fast enough to be in the first ten.

Now I'm not saying that all ad folks are like that, or that all auditions get thousands of submissions, but it is happening allot more now, and quite often the newer people in the business just getting their feet wet have that free time to put in the spots before those that are, not unlike yourself yesterday, having a slammed busy day and can't put in till tomorrow.. :)

Once again, thanks for having such a great blog.. now if I could make the time to work on mine a little more.. Gotta start taking my notebook with me when I go to town.. :)


Kara Edwards said...


These are really great thoughts- thank you! I forget sometimes that being fast with auditions can be a major plus. I often find myself working when good auditions come through- and I there have been times I've opted not to audition, knowing it's likely a futile effort. That, too, is a mistake on my part- you just never know! :) Thank you for contributing to the discussion- these are great thoughts for anyone in our business!


Deelsu said...

I've awarded you Miss Kara! Check out my blog :)

Dave DeAndrea said...

Thanks for showing a little vulnerability, Kara. We all have our ups and downs... but not everyone understands the signifigance of the balance between the ups and downs as you have expressed here.

Regarding you specifically, there are only 2 types of people... those who simply don't know how great you are as a voice talent yet... and those who have known it all along! :)

Kara Edwards said...

Dee- I am honored to have you as a dear friend :)

Dave- I so appreciate your comments! And congratulations on the Voicey Award nomination! It is well deserved.