Are your words working for you?
Or against you?
Listen, I'm really sorry to bother you, but I don’t suppose you’d be interested in hearing about how words can sabotage your success, would you? Oh, I’ll bet you’re thinking it’s a stupid idea and you probably have better things to do than read this article, I mean, like, I was just hoping it would help you. OK listen, this was a bad idea! You must be ready to - I don’t know - go on to the next article and stop reading, right? But gee, I’m just rambling! I’m sorry.
Don’t stop reading!
Do yourself a favor and read on. Because, if you’re like the majority of us in this big, wide, world, you’ve used language like this during your life when trying to communicate an idea. And if you don't become aware of the pattern - and change it, you could seriously be damaging your chances for success. Self-deprecating words will lead people to believe - and treat you as if - you are less capable than you really are. And then you start to think, “Maybe I’m really not that smart or that good at stuff.” And a very destructive chain is formed. It’s time to break that chain - right now!
Up Speak: As voice actors, we all know how the inflections we attach to words can completely change their meaning. One of the most difficult habits new voice actors have to break is “up speak,” the upward inflection at the end of a sentence - as if every sentence was a question. For example, say these phrases as questions, with an upward inflection:
- HI, It’s me?
- I can make the session at 3 o’clock?
- Let’s go to Oscar’s for dinner?
Do you hear how it makes you sound unsure - less than confident - as if you're asking for permission instead of making a statement? Do it too much and you'll start to sound like a ditz! Need proof? Fill in the blanks and say these phrases.
- Hi, my name is ______________?
- I live in _______________?
Interesting, huh? Whether performing for voice over or in any normal conversation, if you’ll work on getting rid of this speech pattern you’ll find that not only will others perceive you differently, but you’ll speak with far more confidence.
Just: You call up a friend and announce, “It’s just me.” Or someone at a party asks, “I hear you’re a voice actor.” And you reply, “Oh, I’m just learning and I just do it for fun.” Or, you are asked, “Are you a doctor, like your husband?” And you reply, “Oh, no, I’m just a mom.”
You need to start treating what you do as if it’s every bit as important as what they do (which, by the way, it is.)
Stop using just to describe yourself. Tell your friends you’re “up for the usual,” not just the usual. It seems like a small thing, but it’s a HUGE mind set that can limit you greatly.
Sorry: Oh, this is a bad one! It's such a problem that in our classes James and I have incorporated the use of the "Sorry Jar." Every time a student says the words, "I'm sorry," when they are at the mic, they get to put $1 in the jar - every time. By the time our last session rolls around, there's always enough money to buy pizza for the class and we have a group that has broken this habitual pattern! The reason it's important to get this phrase out of your vocabulary (especially when you're performing) is this: A professional VO talent doesn't apologize. He or she simply makes necessary changes if a flub occurs. It’s much better to use a phrase like, "I'd like to take that again, please," or "May I start again?" Even "Excuse me" is better than "Sorry." The words, "I'm sorry," make you sound like a apologetic, weak child - not the professional you are - or want to be.
One thing that a good coach can help you with is breaking old habits and forming good, strong ones. If you’d like some help becoming a better communicator (in and out of the booth), check out the classes and workshops we offer.
When you really want to change, sometimes all you need is a little external push.
If workshops or private coaching aren't possible for you right now, I'd strongly suggest you do some reading. The Art of Voice Acting, by James R. Alburger, is the best-selling book out there on the art and craft of voiceover!