Tag Archives: motivation

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.



Pyramids and padded cells – (and nothing to do with soundproofing)!

Sitting at my desk, sipping my first coffee of the day – I was thinking about my journey in this world of VoiceOver.

Yes – I know we’re NOT supposed to take too much caffeine, but I don’t smoke or drink – so I’m struggling to discipline myself to manage my coffee intake, I love it too much (sorry Gary).

You may know that, among other things, training was part of my background before I started doing VO. I see the things I learn about VO through my eyes as a trainer, and I find it really interesting to consider what we do in those terms.


Some of you will be familiar with Abraham Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ theory* which he published in 1943. It basically said that things which motivate us do so in different ways, depending on where they sit in a list of needs.

Later on, this theory became represented as a pyramid:


It can apply to a small activity – like cutting the grass, or larger-scale activities like career choices.

I was trying to work out, where VO sat in the hierarchy, when it struck me (as the caffeine kicked in) that it actually covers the entire range:

PhysiologicalWe get income, sometimes intermittently, for food and drink

SafetyEmployment (see income!) resources to provide for family and a roof over our heads

Love/belongingWell I can’t think of a body of people outside of my immediate friends and family, who create a real sense of belonging like the VO community do

EsteemWe all work hard to produce the best quality work we can, and a small part of this is about feeling good when those efforts are respected

Self-ActualizationWell this is the most obvious, it’s where creativity sits. There can’t be many activities more ‘self-aware’ than recording your voice, playing it back, and reviewing what’s good (and not so good) whilst sitting alone in a padded cell

A real sense of belonging – like the VO community

I guzzle my last mouthful of coffee, really glad I took the decision to get involved in this world. I knew VO felt satisfying – know I realise why, it ticks all the boxes!

Apart from the box which says “drink less caffeine”.

Now, which chores shall I tackle first, the lawn or the washing up? Hmmm, looks like rain, I’ll have a coffee while I think about my motivation.

Have a great day everyone,


* Other theories are available, but if you’d like to read Maslow’s in full it’s at http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.htm