In Out? In Out? Or shake it all about?

Voiceover people do what we do for numerous and varied reasons.

We’re all different people from different backgrounds with different circumstances and different motivations. Some motivational factors may be more common among us than others. Family is a big one for me, it might be for you too?

But there’s an even bigger motivator for me. To explain it, I first need to cover two separate and discrete areas:

Input and output.

Many people make, in my opinion, a mistake with their focus. They spend too much time focusing on output. I have seen it time and time again in many walks of life. Chasing a ‘number’. Seeking a ‘success’. Aiming at a particular ‘outcome’. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s important to measure the outcome. After all:

If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there.

Often incorrectly quoted as a line from Alice in Wonderland – but the paraphrase works here.

I am a huge fan of goals. But. I’ve learned that setting the goal, measuring the outcome or deciding ‘what great looks like’ should only be a small proportion of our focus. Output happens, it’s a ‘result’, an ‘outcome’. And it happens well, after we’ve finished working on great quality input.

Pareto sits nicely here for me to express a good balance:

  • 20% of our time working on, measuring and reviewing output
  • 80% of our time working on, measuring and reviewing input

So how can this apply to voiceover?

I’ve built my own recording area – as most of us have. That’s involved everything from carpentry, to rearranging furniture. From treating the walls, to moving around the room. Of course none of that input effort is driving the result whilst I’m working on it. Plainly, It’s not getting me a role there and then. Obviously that input is going to affect output at a later time. Our input is ongoing, and we work hard at it:

  • We create studios
  • We buy expensive equipment
  • We practise our practice
  • We learn ( every day is a school day )
  • We audition
  • We fail, often – because it’s in the nature of what we do. Picture the door-to-door brush salesperson with his philosophy, “Every door that slams in my face, gets me one closer to the customer who will buy!” That’s us!
  • We learn from our failures and we get better.

All this is input.

As a result of working on this, we deliver quality output in the form of our recording. But it’s the next bit which REALLY adds the magic for me:

Seeing this ‘output’out there‘.

The words we’ve delivered, crafted, worked up, transformed into something relevant and useful and interesting. Those words, sitting out there in the ether. With a life. People listening to them, and commenting on them. Sometimes even enjoying them!

That’s where the true magic is for me, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

So next time you’re trying to work out why you didn’t get that role. Or trying to deliver the same sentence for the 13th time in an audition. Or spending time experimenting with the sound. Or marketing your business with seemingly no response – remember, it’s all input, and it’s all good. And the better quality the input, ultimately the more rewarding the output.

Have a great week.



6 thoughts on “In Out? In Out? Or shake it all about?

  1. DebbieGrattanVoiceovers

    Such a great lesson here. I’ve spent a good part of the day today working on homework with my 10 year old son. He doesn’t really like school, or doing the work, and isn’t focused on any of it leading anywhere. I keep trying to tell him how important it is, in building a strong foundation, for the future. I guess at 10, the future is all about what are we having for dinner! But I find your insight very telling, and appreciate you bringing to light that all the input can be rewarding when we can appreciate the outcome. And so do our clients, and everyone who hears it.

  2. steveoneillvoice Post author

    Debbie I’m honoured by your comments here, thank you. We have 2 boys of a similar age and I know exactly what you’re saying. Always a balance between working with them so they feel in control, with resisting the temptation to holler ‘learn from what I’ve learned’! I didn’t enjoy school or work very hard, and OH if I could have those days back. There aren’t enough hours in the day now for me to learn new things. And as parents, I find the more you know – the more you know you don’t know.

  3. dabvoiceovergal

    Ah yes, our ongoing ‘input’ and what it eventually brings about. This was such an important reminder, Mr. O. What you’ve eloquently expressed resonated with me as well. In essence, sowing to reap a harvest, if you will. And what motivates and/or compels us to strive is always something we should ponder, as well.

    1. steveoneillvoice Post author

      Aw Deb you’re quite a gal! Thank you for this. Yes, the sowing to reap is a good analogy. In my experience (not just in voiceover) people spend so much time looking at the results, the output, They focus on trying to change one ‘number’ into another ‘number’ and lose sight of the fact that time spent earlier in the process is where that change can be affected. In sales particularly this is an issue – “You’re only as good as yesterday’s results” etc. I think it really applies to what we do in VO as well. Thank you again and AS ALWAYS for your kindness and support! 😉


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