That’s NOT Voiceover
The original link to the article and quiz no longer works.
I’ve updated it to the new link to “Do You Have the Right Stuff for Voice Acting?”
However: the new article no longer has the quiz. The quiz link in the article just takes you over to the “That’s Voiceover!” site, which I do not endorse.
— the management
Last week, Backstage posted an article entitled “Do You Have the Right Stuff for Voice Acting?”. I was hoping for something thoughtful and in-depth covering the profession of voice acting. Instead the article struck me as being vague at best and very light on any important details. It left me with a new-age vibe from statements like “the question of whether you can succeed is best answered by the student” or “we strongly encourage the voiceover student to look within”… Meh.
At the end, I was directed to a rather disappointing Quiz on the “That’s Voceover” site. They encouraged the readers to answer honestly, and said that at the end I would “receive a general evaluation that may help you determine what’s next for your career”… Which goes counter to most of what the Backstage article posits. But what the heck – I’m game!
Just for fun, I took the quiz twice. The first time, I answered as honestly as I could given the questions… and got this result:
You’ve scored in a range that suggest a distinct incompatibility with the unique challenges and rigors required for voice acting. You may find the demands of a voice acting career to be unreasonably difficult and the upfront investment to be incompatible with the potential reward. Your answers suggest that you would not be personally satisfied pursuing this field. Regardless of this evaluation, only you know what is in your heart and what you are willing to do to secure your dream.
The second time I answered the questions with what I assumed would be the “right” answers, and got this instead:
You’ve scored in a range that suggest you have the confidence, passion and determination, to do what it takes to achieve success. Talent, of course, is an intangible element that can’t be answered here. However, your score suggests that you will be able to use professional feedback to identify and evolve your capacities. Further, you demonstrate an emotional aptitude for managing the business rigors associated with navigating a career in voice acting.
So, I guess that means I shouldn’t be in voice acting, right?
Since the quiz results don’t actually tell you the “correct” answers, it’s difficult to say what the point of the whole exercise is. No additional help on why one answer is any better than another was provided. So, I though I would give my views on how each answer may fit into a voiceover career.
Below are the individual quiz questions. On each one, I let you know what my honest answer is, and what I assume is the “right” answer is supposed to be.
Here we go!
First, the quiz heading:
Do you have what it takes to succeed in Voice Acting?
Take the quiz!
Seems easy enough! Just answer a couple questions and viola! I know if I’m suited for a successful career in Voice Acting.
On to the questions:
( key: honest answers are bold, “right” answers are underlined )
Q 1: If you were faced with a problem that seemed almost impossible to solve, what would you do?
• I’d keep plugging away until I solved it. After all, you said “almost impossible.”
• I’d work on it a little while, but I wouldn’t waste too much time. You did say it was “almost impossible.”
I get it. We’re supposed to be stubbornly persistent. But you know the best part about banging your head against the wall? Stopping.
Perseverance is important, but it’s equally important to know when to quit. Otherwise you may just be wasting your time when you could move on to something more fruitful… And less frustrating.
Q 2: Do you have a problem maintaining your composure in stressful situations?
• No. I always remain cool, calm and collected.
• I have a bit of a temper.
• I’m usually fine … except when I cry.
As actors, part of our stock in trade is our emotions. But it’s not healthy to always stay cool at the expense of being honest with yourself. Anger and sadness both have a place in a healthy human psyche. The can also be valuable indicators when something is amiss.
Q 3: When you are expected to do something or be somewhere, can others count on you?
• I try, but something always seems to come up.
Ah! Finally we agree on something! Being reliable is an essential part of any sole-proprietor business. However, even the best of us sometimes run into snags or other issues. In those situations, it’s best to apologize and if possible make amends.
Q 4: How do you feel about regularly having contact with others?
• I like working closely with people.
• I like people, but sometimes I need to be alone.
• I don’t like dealing with people at all.
I found this question to be particularly confusing. In today’s vo world, we are alone much of the time. We audition and record at home. Even out at the studios there is some separation between the talent and everyone else… And we often are the only one in the booth. Getting along with others is needed at times, but since there are entire genres that require minimal contact, I’m not sure how vital it really is. Each person’s career will be different.
Q 5: How do you usually react to change?
• I go with the flow.
• I initially have a hard time with change, but I eventually adapt.
• I don’t adapt well to change.
Change is always at least a little stressful for me. It’s tied up with the stability of my personality. As with many things, balance is key. To be reliable, you need to be stable. To be flexible, you need to adapt to change. Too much “go with the flow” could mean you’re also easily distracted. Not necessarily the best thing for a career.
Q 6: How do you get along with others?
• I get along with everyone.
• I usually get along with people.
• I find it difficult to get along with others.
This seems very similar to Question 4, or at least closely related.
To me, getting along with everyone means you don’t have much of an opinion, or don’t feel confident enough to put yourself out there. A strong personality often means you won’t mesh with everyone… And that’s OK. You don’t have to work with everyone or take on every project. Sometimes a clear focus and strong personality will take you further than merely being agreeable.
Q 7: Are you willing to set challenging goals for yourself and make the effort necessary to achieve those goals?
My real answer on this is actually “sometimes”. It really depends on the given circumstances of each scenario. Since they were good enough to ask this question twice (see Q 16) I answered one “Yes” and the other “No”.
The “right” answer is probably “yes”, since you need to desperately throw yourself fully into everything you do to ever have a chance of succeeding.
Q 8: How would you describe your ability to listen to others?
• I pay complete attention and only interrupt to ask questions if necessary.
• I usually listen well, but my mind sometimes wanders.
• I find my mind wanders whenever others are speaking.
This one’s simple. I’m married. My wife has informed me in no uncertain terms that I should listen to her more. Case closed.
Seriously, though, human attentions do wander from time to time, so it’s perfectly normal to … SQUIRREL!!! Wait, what was I saying?
Q 9: How do you feel about working in a competitive environment?
• I set my own benchmarks with little regard to what others are doing.
• I don’t mind competing against others sometimes.
• Competing against others motivates me.
For this question, I’m going to use my only sports analogy. I divide sports into two classifications: “true competitive”, and “not really competitive”.
In “true competitive” sports, players are allowed to interfere with each other in order to affect the game outcome. These include such sports as football, tennis and basketball.
In “not really competitive” sports, interfering with the other players or team is expressly forbidden. As such, participants could in theory play on completely different days and just compare scores. Examples are golf, bowling and darts.
Given this analogy, voice acting is not really competitive. I mean it’s not like other actors are in your audition trying to make you screw up. It’s just you. Any competition you think you see is all in your head.
So competition can’t motivate me because there is none. End of story.
Q 10: Can you easily understand written material?
• I tend to miss things when I read.
Aha! Another one we agree on! It is definitely important to have a good understanding of both the copy and the direction. The term “easily” is debatable, however. Some material does require research into definitions, history, foreign names, medical or technical material, etc.
Q 11: How do you feel about taking on new challenges?
• I’m always game.
• I’m willing to take on new challenges but prefer not to.
• I don’t like new challenges.
This one is very similar to Question 7 and Question 16, but here’s a bit more info…
Some challenges are worth your effort. They are attainable goals that could potentially give you a good return on your investment (time, money, etc) Others may be frustrating at best or impossible at worst… And your time and money would be wasted pursuing them.
The real key is being honest with yourself about your abilities and goals, combined with a healthy knowledge of the challenge ahead.
Choosing your challenges will come from your training and experience… And even then you’ll have to learn a lesson and quit from time to time.
Q 12: Are you good at picking up on social cues?
• Yes. I’m very aware of people’s reactions and feelings.
• Usually, but sometimes I miss them.
Social cues are a topic many people better than I have written volumes on. They vary by country, region, family upbringing and dozens of other factors. Nobody catches them all. To achieve clear communications in any relationship, you’ll need to be open to seeing things from other perspectives. And you’ll need to recognize when you’ve reached a communication impasse and find ways around it.
Q 13: Do you prefer to work on a team or alone?
• I prefer to work on a team.
• I rather work alone.
• Either way is fine with me
This just seems to be another version of Question 4 and Question 6.
Again, it really depends on the type of voice work and your personality. Alone or with a team can both be viable business models.
Q 14: When you have to orally convey information to others how well do they understand you?
• Very well.
• Fairly well.
• Not at all.
There are a number of important factors that go into conveying information orally. The content of the information. Your understanding of the script and any characters. Your natural accent and/or the accent of the character. If you’re challenged by any kind of speech impediment. And of course, the abilities of your audience to hear and understand what you’re trying to convey. With all these factors in mind, I think if you can convey the information most of the time, you’re doing pretty good!
Q 15: Are you creative?
• Not at all.
Of course we all like to think of ourselves as creative. After all, we’re in the arts! I see myself as creative, and I can understand why people might think this question is apropos… But there is a larger question to be asked:
Is creativity needed for a career as a voice actor?
Certainly some jobs require more creativity than others. There are also many different types of creativity. You might be creative because you can improvise dialogue at the drop of a hat. Or maybe you’re creative because you can make the assembly guide for a nuclear interocitor seem interesting. Or perhaps your creative skill is the ability to fit a legal tag into three seconds. Perhaps you do hundreds of distinct characters and accents.
Yet I would say there are plenty of gigs that require very little real creativity. Just communicate the message in a simple way and move on.
I think “Somewhat” might be the real winning answer here.
Q 16: Are you willing to set challenging goals for yourself and make the effort necessary to achieve those goals?
(See Q 7 above)
Wrapping It Up
I hope that my in-depth review of this simplistic quiz shines a bit more light on the complexities and personal realities of a career in voice acting.
No internet quiz will ever be a reliable measure of your skills, aptitude or future in any career. As to why an organization that sells conferences, coaching and awards to aspiring voice actors would post such a quiz… I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader to ponder on their own.
From my perspective on the VO business, it’s much like any other career. There’s no substitute for putting in the hard work to create a solid foundation. For voice acting, that would be acting on stage, improv, or singing. Classes and coaching are also needed, but beware the plethora of get-rich-quick demo mills. Don’t be lured by flash and glitz. The promise of awards and riches, like the mythical Sirens, have lured many to their career demise.
See you in the booth,
All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com
Excellent post, Joe! There are so many factors that make up a person’s career, whether in voiceover or anything else, that no quiz can really give an accurate, definitive answer. The way I see it, that quiz is more of a personality test than anything. While personality does play a part in any career, it’s not the only thing that should determine a person’s suitability for that career.
Thanks, Justin! Totally agree… Lots of areas for lots of different types.
Good post, Joe. Glad you “called out” the alleged voice-acting quiz. Reading its questions made me conclude that this is just another of the many posts designed solely to entice voice-over newcomers or wannabes to click through to read something that can apply to a very broad variety of occupations. AKA: more generic swill to attract clicks. Shame on Backstage for posting this time-suck.
Thank you Mike! Shame for sure. Wish Backstage with have some deeper stuff for the industry…
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Bravo Joe! I tend to not read the Backstage articles for the very reasons you cited. Too much fluff and not enough real information.
Thanks Rob… It is a shame. Backstage used to be much more informative.
Thank you so much for this post, Joe. This really has helped inform me more about the realities about the VO career. I am very interested in becoming a voice actor myself, and I am glad to see some of these questions, or rather statements, clarified and at most debunked!
Thank you, Jonathan – Lots of information out there on the net, but not all of it is accurate or apropos to your career. Best of luck out there!
Thank you Joe. Your discussion of #1, 7 and 11 remind me of Seth Godin’s The Dip: When to quit and when to stick. You’ll never become the best in the world if you quit when you hit a dip – the diminishing returns that follow your initial rapid growth in skill and results, and precede your ultimate high achievement. You’ll also not reach the pinnacle if you are on a dead end: “Nothing will help. Time to quit. Quit so you can focus on your dips instead.” (From cover copy of the CD version, narrated by Seth.)
Yes, good tie in, Harry. The Dip is a great little book.