The Trouble With Trainers

by | Apr 22, 2016 | VO Business | 1 comment

microphone-cCoach. Teacher. Trainer. Manager. Consultant. Mentor.  The field of people actively pursuing the role of VO instructor is booming. 

Four factors contribute to that:

  1. Interest in freelance VO work is high (and misunderstood)…creating a healthy need.
  2. There are little-to-no formal (read: higher ed) institutionally- approved voice over curricula – creating a huge opportunity for un-accredited teachers to fill the gap. With no formal certification as a VO coach, ANYONE can claim to be one.
  3. The incessant drum-beat in our business to always seek fresh coaching.
  4. Newbies who don’t know where to look, and fall prey to ubiquitous, glitzy come-ons.

On the pages of this blog, I’ve cautioned about over-reach and fraud in that realm (See: 5 Ways to Spot Predatory Demo Coaches).

But of course, there are many talented, knowledgeable, ethical, and helpful coaches and demo producers.  I prefer the instructor who is actually no longer (or never was) a voice talent (See: Too Many Coaches, Not Enough Mentors), or only accepting occasional pro vo work.  Why?  Because I think it’s tough to maintain two career vectors and do them both justice.  Notice I said “tough”… not impossible.  There are a very few who can do it.  Pat Fraley.  Joe Cipriano (who is now consulting), and a handful of others.

I feel the same about this as I do about Social Media “experts”.  Self-acclaimed “experts” are suspect.  There are so many social media experts that I think they outnumber social media students!

I would more trust an exceptional and successful talent who DOESN’T advertise as a coach, and approach them personally to see if they would coach me. I would gladly pay.  Wouldn’t you?  If they turn me down, I would respect them even more.  Not everyone is a good coach, and I’d rather have someone who is honest with me about that, than someone who makes empty (expensive) promises.

The trouble with trainers in the current climate — I believe — is a trend of playing fast ‘n’ loose with the definition.  Is a coach the same as a consultant, the same as a mentor, the same as a manager?  I dunno.  Does anyone care?  What should be a coach’s responsibility?  What are the rules?

Well, I’d like to think WoVO has taken a big step in setting those parameters.  Our “Best Practices for Coaches and Demo Producers” was written by our legal counsel Rob Sciglimpaglia, and has already stood the test of time and scrutiny.

Many people starting out in this business don’t have the answers they need to the question of where to start.  Point them to this document, mentor them with a few well-placed answers and give them a referral to some qualified coaches.  It’ll save us all a little wear ‘n’ tear on the future of our profession.




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1 Comment

  1. John Kuehne

    Another “Spot-On” article.

    What I have found is that you need to find specific coaches that are good at working the areas in your performance that are weak or need improvement. For those just starting, having an overall assessment at the likes of EdgeStudio, VoiceTraxSF or VoiceOne is where to begin. Take that report and drill into the specifics. Whether it be diction, pronunciation, acting or other item you then ask peers as to who they had the best luck with.

    Once you really have your chops and ready to really invest in crafting a signature sound you go for the big guns like Marice Tobias or David Lyerly.


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