A blog about being the right you in the right context.
Personal and professional.
Both pretty similar.
Each one begins with a ‘p’ and ends with an ‘l’.
And they share an ‘e’, ‘r’, ‘s’, ‘o’, ‘n’ and ‘a’, too.
To outward appearances, these two words have a lot in common: you can almost see a ‘persona’ in that ‘professional’. And to some extent, that’s true.
A voice-over artist could, in the right context, claim that the personal is professional. For example, you could give a ”personal service” (which by its nature also involves a high degree of professionalism). This might mean that you are polite, prompt with emails, correctly interpret the brief, provide the perfect read, and send back the audio in double-quick time, exceeding all the client’s expectations.
In that context, it’s easy to see how the personal is professional. But at other times, the personal is not professional. For example, you might arrive late for a recording session, which you forgot to book into your diary, because your head is thick with cold, because you were out drinking last week, and well, your car won’t start either, because you put off booking it in for its MOT.
Two examples, then, of the personal and the professional, and how the right combination produces good results, while the wrong combination does the opposite.
The other subtle difference between these two scenarios is the ”backstory”. In the world of reality TV (like my guilty pleasure, America’s Next Top Model), a backstory is the dramatic backbone of the series. It’s how, as viewers, we get invested into a contestant’s character and how we make sense of her journey from poor, shy, small town girl to (maybe – and you’ll find out next week and the week after that) a coiffed, cool, confident catwalker. That’s storytelling in so-called reality TV, where characters are developed and constructed through creative editing to entertain the audience.
But in the professional world (what we might call ”real reality”), nobody cares about your backstory. There is no audience. Nobody is invested in your storyline. And few people care about your personal life, because in the context of a recording studio, there isn’t time and it’s simply not appropriate. So the only answer to ‘’how are you?’’ at the start of a recording session should be ”great, thanks!”.
The reality is, therefore, that the world of the professional is about doing the job. As a professional voice-over artist, or if you prefer, a voice actor, you have to ‘act’ like a professional, or better yet, just ‘be’ one. In studio and out. On good days and bad days. All of the time.
I learned about professionalism the hard way. When I was young and still learning my craft, I mistook friendliness and regular contact with contemporaries to mean that we were all a big happy family of voice-over-related people, working together in a fun, harmonious circle of trust. But reality soon dawned and I realised that you can’t bring your personal storyline into the professional environment. And as such, I shan’t be mentioning it here, either.
But learning the value of professionalism (at the expense of the personal) was an important lesson. Years later, it’s what I teach my students. ‘’’The reality’’, I tell them, ”is that you’re just gobs on sticks” (as my friend and colleague Stephen Lyons would say). ”It’s just you, the microphone, the producer and the copy. Be in the moment. Speak only the words on the page. Be the professional. Fulfil your role. Do the job”.
And if you can be personable too – rather than personal – that’s a bonus.
To find out more about how to hire her for your project, or for vocal coaching, click the links above.