Sep 6, 2022
Do not apologize for little mistakes during a session. You are human! This week, Anne & Erikka teach you how to overcome performance anxiety. Certain elements of voice acting get easier after years in the booth, but sometimes the nerves never go away. Taking steps before a big gig like walking outside, spending time with a furry friend, or breathing can calm you down, but what happens when you feel anxious in the moment? Stay calm in the booth and know that it is a safe space for you to perform and be your best. BOSSES, if you’re unsure of how to take control of the situation & your anxiety, listen up!
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I'm your host Anne Ganguzza, and I am excited to bring back to the show the lovely and talented Miss Erikka J. Woohoo!
Erikka: Hey, Anne!
Anne: Hi, Erikka.
Erikka: How are you, darling?
Anne: I'm wonderful. How are you?
Erikka: Pretty good. Pretty good. Just the trucking along. I was thinking back this week actually about a workshop that I was in, and I really had like some anxiety. It was like crazy when I was on the mic. So I was in a class with the Andrea Toyias of Blizzard.
Anne: Oh, love her.
Erikka: I mean, I was waiting a year and a half to take this class with her, right? And I had actually just found out I was pregnant the night before, and I was just like freaking out because it was super unexpected. Great surprise. But I was just like, what am I gonna do? And all of a sudden, I start getting symptoms like I'm nauseous, right? Like super like, ugh. So I am now this class I've been waiting for for a year and a half, video game, you know, you have to use your whole body. I had like this beastly character, and I'm a ball of nerves and nauseous on top of that, whether it's from the anxiety or just the baby. But I'm like, how am I gonna get through this?
And, you know, I realized that this was an opportunity for me to channel that anxiety into the energy of my character. And it really turned out great. Like she gave me good reviews, and I was just like, oh my God, thank God. Like I cried after, it was like all the emotions came out, but it was a great opportunity to sort of, rather than letting the emotions take over me and impact the authenticity of my performance, to actually channel that energy and be able to use it in an effective way that worked. So I was thinking maybe we could talk about how to overcome performance anxiety.
Anne: Absolutely. Well, number one, I love that topic. Number two, I love that you are so open and upfront about it. Because a successful voiceover talent, you know, people seem to think, well, we, we have it all together. We don't ever get nervous when we come in the booth or perform, or we're live directed, but in effect we actually do probably more than people even realize. And I think it's just that maybe we've had a little more experience in dealing with it and trying to maybe turn that into something positive. I do have a lot of newer students that I've seen come into my workouts, my VO Peeps workouts, and get nervous performing in front of other people, let alone the director, but just performing in front of other people.
And I know myself when I first started in the voiceover industry, believe it or not, I was almost like afraid myself to let go and explore my voice, because I didn't wanna hear it in my ears, because I thought, oh God, that sounds stupid. And so I think that's a really great mental emotion to talk about and how we can get over our performance anxiety so that we can make it work for us and not against us. So what are your tricks when you start to get nervous? And first of all, when we get nervous, there's so many things that can happen, even if it's a good nervous, right?
Anne: If you're an excited, happy nervous, it's still, it gets you all your adrenaline hyped and your shoulders up, and it just makes your voice also with that same anxiety.
Erikka: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there are a few things. So like for one, coming from performing on stage as well, like that was sort of where I learned how to channel anxiety, because at the end of the day, it's just energy, right? But it's just like a really strong, sort of urgent energy, and what that can do when it works against you, if you don't have it in balance is like, sometimes I catch myself, it'll make me make my voice more higher pitch. And then they're like, well, can you <laugh> we want you to speak more like kind of how you just were when we were talking. And it's like, oh yeah, Erikka, you're anxious, calm down. So that is kind of a way it can work against you. I tend to talk really fast too, when I get anxious. And I just have anxiety in general, sort of as the disorder. So I have to kind of manage that.
Things that I do to get rid of it, if I feel like before a session I'm already kind of high strung about it, maybe it's a job I'm really excited about or, or nervous about, getting outside and really getting some fresh air breathing, the deep breathing thing -- I know it's like cliche. Everybody talks about breathing, but it really literally tells your brain everything is okay. There's plenty of oxygen available. I'm not gonna die, because that's what anxiety feels like. You're dying. It's just like, everything's wrong. And if you get that oxygen flowing into your body, real, really plentiful oxygen, that can help calm you down.
Sometimes I'll go sing something really loud or scream. Like obviously safely, <laugh> getting that scream energy out. 'Cause anxiety is just energy. Again, if you can kinda get that out of you to help you calm down and do that. Things like warm tea, just things that help you feel mentally safe are nice. Hug or going to your pet, you know, and playing with them and touching them and letting love on you a little before a session, all those things help me.
Anne: I think that's wonderful. And I really am a big believer in the breathing, you know, and the taking a breath. And so if you're in the moment, right, okay, so this is maybe before the performance, right? These are things you can do. So when you're in the moment, right, and let's say you're being directed or you're in a workshop, a session, first of all, in any workshop or session, I just wanna kind of throw this out there that they are called workshops and classes for a reason. They're meant to be safe spaces for you to get that anxiety out, to experience that, and then experience recovering through that or whatever it is, working out your performance issues in a class. And so I hope that we can all feel safe or whoever's directing that workshop can help you all to feel safe. A lot of times the directors that I work with, they make a point of saying, look, get it out now. Do it now in this workshop, 'cause that's what we're here for. And that's the safe space.
Where you probably don't want it to happen so much is when you're in a live directed session. So when you're actually in a session, I'm a big believer in the breathing. Now <laugh> there's a couple of different things. Are you on Zoom, right? Are they watching you, number one, or are they not? And I am a big fan of you don't need to see me necessarily perform. And if I can actually get that to happen, I feel much more comfortable. It really helps me mentally relax. And it also allows me to do things in the booth, like maybe step away from the mic and, and breathe and instead of right in the booth or so that they can see me doing whatever it is I need to do to relax.
And so I would say the breathing is a big thing, and also in the middle of a performance, if you happen to freak out, just know that you're a human being, and the people that are directing you are human beings. And so there's a lot to be said for that. I say that sometimes you don't really wanna admit that you're nervous necessarily in front of the director or whoever might be on the call, but you just do what you need to do. There's no rush, right? There's no like, oh my gosh, I have to get this done in the next five minutes. If there's any session where you feel like you're being pressured to get that read out in a short amount of time, I would second guess that client. That's for sure. If you can be with that client and you are not on camera, do whatever you need to do, you know, shake it out, breathe, mute your mic for a minute and do whatever you scream, sing, whatever you gotta do, breathe because they're never gonna really know <laugh>.
So that's kind of something you can do kind of behind the scenes.
But if you are on camera, number one, I would try not to be on camera if you can help it, but you can always turn your camera off for a moment and/or mute whatever you need to do to kind of get there. I mean, unless you're in the middle of a sentence, right? There's no need to necessarily explain. You can just say, I need a moment, and do what you need to do. What about you, Erikka? When you're in the moment, what are some key things that you do?
Erikka: Yeah, those are all great points, fully agree and sort of to elaborate on some of them, in the middle of a session -- well, for one, I usually start the session by taking control of the whole visual aspect. I'm like you, Anne, I'm a fan of camera off. So what I'll do is, in the very beginning of the session, I'll flip my camera on, say, hey, you know, I just wanted to introduce myself and kind of have that initial conversation to have the human connection. And then as we're getting ready to record, I'll say, okay, I'm gonna go ahead and flip video off so I can make sure that the audio quality is as high as possible.
Anne: Oh, Erikka, golden nugget! Oh my gosh!
Erikka: And they love that.
Anne: Say that again. Say that again, because we can go home now. That was the best like piece of information, I swear. That, that's a great idea.
Erikka: The pandemic educated everybody video takes up more bandwidth. And if you have video off, the audio is less likely to drop out. Nobody wants the audio to drop out because they wanna be able to critique the quality of the voiceover that you're giving and give you feedback so that they get what they want. So that way they're like, oh yeah, sure. Turn video off. I'm gonna turn video off. And then if they don't want video, it makes them feel comfortable. Like, oh thank God. I don't have to have video on <laugh>
Anne: I think a lot of people believe, it or not, are more relieved than not just because, you know, I don't know if we're having a little bit of anxiety from the whole, like during the pandemic, all we did was Zoom. Although I'm a big fan of the video connection that we did have. We just did it a lot. And so, you know, I did it to keep connected with my family and my clients, and I think, yeah, everybody could use a little vacation from the video being on all the time. It really has put on another added layer of potential anxiety for us as voice talent. Because most of us <laugh> got into the business because we didn't wanna be on camera. We wanted to be behind the mic. And so I love how you said that you turn it on to say hello and make the human connection. And then just say, look, I wanna be able to flip this now so that we make sure we get the best audio. What a fantastic idea. I love that.
Erikka: Sometimes I even make a joke just to keep it lighthearted, feeling the client out, if that works. And I'll just say, so you don't see my weird actor faces and they'll laugh, you know? And like that works because that's the truth. I'll flip it on at the end, you know, to kind of close it off and say, bye. I do make sure that particularly on Zoom or whatever platform I can, that I'll have my headshot so that they can see me. Even though they're not seeing me. So that kind of keeps the human connection as well.
Anne: That's excellent. Now, Erikka, you know, that's funny because mine always just appears, but I don't ever remember putting it there. Where does that come from? That Zoom headshot, is that in the settings of Zoom when you set it?
Erikka: It is, but you have to be logged in. So you have to actually be logged into your Zoom account and then you can set your picture and it'll come up. But if you just like click on their link, and you're not logged in, it'll just show your name that you typed in. Yeah.
Anne: Ah-ha. Oh, that's an excellent point. I never realized that 'cause I'm always the one hosting the Zoom sessions for the most part. And interestingly enough, when I say to patch into my studio, if they don't wanna use the ipDTL link, or usually I use ipDTL, or usually I'm not the one providing SourceConnect, they would be the one providing SourceConnect link. But if I'm providing the link, then I'll usually give them an ipDTL link, and there's no video involved in that. And most people are relieved. And the reason why I tell them I do that, I'll give them an ipDTL link as a phone patch rather than Zoom is because it's better quality. And so it delivers better quality audio. They can hear me better, and it's always better to be able to hear better so they can direct me better so that I can do my job better.
Erikka: That's what they want.
Anne: So there's all sorts of kind of cool ways around being off camera <laugh> if you so desire.
Erikka: And you know, there really have been studies that have said that in the whole pandemic period that there was increased anxiety because if --
Anne: Being on camera?
Erikka: Yeah. Because if I'm face to face with you, there's a safe distance, but there's a perceived closeness if like my face --
Anne: Oh, interesting.
Erikka: -- here. And it's like, you're in my personal space, and it's more threatening. So it literally can makes you more anxious being on video on a digital platform as opposed to being in person, and you don't get to feel out and kind of mix the other person's energy. It's just this digital face. So it's natural that it makes you more anxious. Just take control of it. And I've never had anybody say, well, no, we want you to keep camera on. <laugh> the only place I can see that ever happening is maybe video games. But even then, they're more concerned about audio.
Anne: Yeah. And I think that, yeah, definitely. Let's just make the point though, that this is for a live directed session where it may not be necessary for you to have video on, even though your clients may like it. The other thing is that it might be the only form of communication that they have, right? Zoom, video, or Skype or whatever that is, or Google Hangouts. A lot of times, that's how they get a community of people together to listen and direct. And even in that case, you can absolutely take control of muting your camera or turning your camera off while you're performing. And so now what if you're in the middle of a sentence and you flub it up, Erikka?
Erikka: Oh man.
Anne: What is your course of action?
Erikka: Yeah. So I talk about this with a few people. So for one, remember that you are human, and we make mistakes. We all stutter, even in regular conversation. Sometimes I'm able to catch it fast enough where it sounds natural. <laugh> Because you know, one of the things of acting is that as just now, when I was thinking about what to say next, I hesitated. We don't have a script in real life. So we don't know what we're gonna say next. So some of that hesitation actually makes a more authentic performance. So if you can catch yourself and not get to the point of, oh my God, I just screwed up and just kind of get to the next word and it still sounds natural, sometimes it works and it actually makes the performance sound more natural. So I try to really just get back in it.
If it's obviously like, you know, oh, I just screwed that up. I just pause and pick up. And there's a couple reasons for that. For one, if you kind of say, oh, I'm sorry, you know, you've already kind of, you've taken some power away from yourself with your client. Kind of told them, hey, I messed up and you've told your brain, you messed up, which is going to increase your anxiety and increase the risk that you're going to mess up again probably on the exact same word. <laugh>
Anne: Yeah, yeah.
Erikka: And your brain is learning. It's like, okay, we may, we mess up there. We mess up on that word. We mess up on that word. Whereas if you just stop and then just pick up, it's a professional thing to do. It also makes it easier for editing so that they can just cut, if they like the first half of that sentence, and it was great, they can just Franken-take it, you know, and put it together and make it work.
Anne: Yeah. Yeah. No, I love that advice to stop. So I always say to my students don't ever apologize. Yeah. You're human. It happens. You simply stop and pick up. Now you don't necessarily pick up from the very beginning of the entire piece of copy. You wanna probably stop and take just as you would be editing right in your own home studio, pick up where you would naturally pick up. And for me, that's at the beginning of the sentence, for the most part or at the comma, if it's that much, if I've still got the melody in my head and knowing where I'm gonna be. But for the most part, just simply stop. Never apologize.
If you apologize, like you said, it definitely takes the power away. And a lot of times people may not even notice that you've flubbed up. And so you simply start it at the top of the sentence again, and that is an entirely acceptable thing to do. I mean, I've done that for years thankfully once I learned myself never to apologize, because again, we are human and just pick it up from the beginning. It does make it, number one, makes you look a lot more professional and number two, it makes it easy to edit. And the simple fact that you know this, right, you know, enough not to go into a bumbling "I'm sorry" apology or whatever it is, even if you have to cough or sneeze or what, whatnot, knowing that if you are silent and then pick up as if nothing happened makes it a really nice block of white space for that engineer to make it easy for them to fix.
Erikka: Yeah. Yeah.
Anne: For sure. For sure.
Erikka: And maybe that can also help you get outta the habit of saying, I'm sorry. It's just stop talking. <laugh> Just, just get your brain to just stop. I make a mistake. I just stop. <Laugh>
Anne: Just stop, breathe, know that it's normal and we all do it. We do.
Erikka: Yeah, we do.
Anne: We all do it. You know? And I always say to people, I wish I could do a read perfectly the first time. Right? It doesn't always happen. But I like how you also used it to talk about how to make that pause almost a natural part of things. Now I know that when I'm anxious, and I'm in the booth, the whole natural in the scene acting sometimes goes bye-bye. And so there's one thing that breathing can help you to come back to the scene. And always remember, even though you've got people watching you, I mean, imagine like you're performing like in the scene just as you would if you were on stage, or if you're not a stage actor or an on-camera actor, if you've got that video off, you are in your booth. That is your magic place. That is where you set your scene. You are in the scene, you're immersed in the scene.
So just try, if you can, to block out the other external factors that are making you nervous and continue to be in that scene, because that's gonna make your performance more natural. And that's what they hired you to do for the most part. I mean, unless they told you to be crazy in character and you know your character, even then, right, you have to be in your character. So I would say, no matter what you're doing, you kinda have to be in character, even if you're doing an e-learning module, you're a teacher, right?
Erikka: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Anne: If you're doing a corporate narration, you work for that company. So you're a character. So you need to remain in that character, and the booth where you are, is kind of your theater <laugh> so to speak. As in a studio that you might be in when you're being directed live to. Now what about going to a studio and being directed live? What are your thoughts about that, Erikka?
Erikka: Oh boy. I'll say maybe one, maybe two more things that I do use in my booth, but one of them might translate to in the studio too. In my booth. I think I mentioned before that for, just for performances and sort of a, who am I talking to, I do keep pictures of my family in the booth. And I found that sometimes that helps with anxiety too. So it's just like, you know, if you would look at the people that you love and that love you, sometimes it can just kind of help to bring you back.
Anne: I'm opening, I'm opening my door, but you can't really see it. <laugh> See if I can. Let's see.
Erikka: Is, is that a kitty cat?
Anne: Yeah. It's my studio cat. And on the other side of the door, which I can't, there we go. There's Anne and Jerry.
Anne: I have my family in the booth with me, the people that I love.
Anne: And I also have a booth buddy. <laugh>
Anne: So this is my little booth buddy.
Erikka: I got a booth buddy, but it's a (?).
Anne: Oh. So you talk --
Erikka: My warm and fuzzy reads.
Anne: There you go. So you talk to your booth buddy to help you in the scene. There's your audience right there.
Erikka: Yep. Yep. Yep.
Erikka: You can't see my family 'cause they're behind where the mic is, but yeah. I've got my kids, me and my boyfriend, and then ultrasound picture, my little boo-boo that's coming.
Erikka: Another thing that I'll use too is I've got one of these stress balls.
Erikka: And when you mentioned going to the studio, this is something that's more portable and not very -- it's discreet. So I could just have this in my pocket. So again, anxiety is just an abundance of energy. So one of the grounding tools that I know is used by some people that, you know, teach anxiety management is like literally like holding the tension in your hand for like five seconds and releasing, and you can do that with a stress ball. So it's just like, you're using all this strength and it's like, mm, get this anxiety out. And then you [breathes out], and you should feel some sort of relief.
Anne: Yeah. And you know, what's good about that is like literally you don't want the anxiety to be in your mouth or in your brain. So having in your hand, having it transfer, and that's one of the good things too. I talk about with physicality behind the mic, right? When people don't wanna look at our silly actor faces behind that mic, when you are in that scene, you need to be in that scene, like physicating with your, with your hands, drawing things, jumping up and down, whatever you're doing, and that will help to divert the energy that might be all up in your shoulders and all up in your mouth and in your speech. Right? And kind of dissipate it so that it will be a little bit less. And so that's great.
Erikka: And these are quiet. They don't make noise so much, so.
Anne: Well, if you go to studio and you're flailing about, and you're doing like -- well, alright, I'm gonna say, how many of you have ever watched right behind the scenes, right, when people are at studios? I mean, there's all sorts of physication going on. As a matter of fact, that's the, the sign of a classic actor, right, behind the mic, who's physically making those silly faces. And I always talk about when you look at musicians on stage too, they always make funny faces. Right? Always.
Erikka: Singing faces are way worse than actor faces. I know.
Anne: I'm gonna tell you, singing faces are way worse.
Erikka: <Laugh> I've been caught before. Like, Ooh, that's not going on social media.
Anne: Yeah. But, but you know what? It creates the performance. And I always talk about Mariah Carey. She does a lot with her hands when she sings.
Erikka: She does.
Anne: How she like trills with her hands, and I'd be like, yeah, what is she doing there? And then I decided to do voiceover and I get what she's doing. It's all about the dissipation of energy and helping her create more energy and also dissipate energy. Which is really a great way to also relieve performance anxiety.
Erikka: Yeah, absolutely. I used to grab my stomach a lot was my thing. And I don't know if that was from like the breathing exercises I learned, and they'd be like, why you grab your stomach? I'm like, I don't know. It's my thing. But it's just like, I don't know. It felt like everything that I was trying to get out was from my core. So I just kind of would hold my stomach and it would help me, ugh. I don't know, so.
Anne: Yes. Consider whatever those silly faces are or what you think are silly moments of brilliance. Really. Turn it into a moment of brilliance and just who cares. Because if it gets the performance out of you, that the client is looking for, you're a genius. Like I dare anybody who gets an amazing performance out of you to laugh at what you do behind the mic. I mean, maybe they'll chuckle, but hey, they're gonna chuckle all the way to the bank.
Erikka: That's right. Took the words outta my mouth. <laugh>.
Anne: Because you're the one that is absolutely giving them the performance that they're looking for and whatever it takes to get there. I would say for the majority of the time, if you're in your home studio, right, and you're being directed and they can't see you, what a blessing that is <laugh> to be honest. What a luxury to be directed these days. Rather than us trying to like, oh my God, what are they looking for? How should I self direct? It becomes something that maybe you can start to look forward to. And you're not nervous about because for me being directed is a luxury because finally, somebody, just tell me what you're looking for. I can do it. I'll deliver it, whatever you want. 'Cause that's better that you tell me, rather than me trying to think of 100 different ways that you might like it.
So if you can directly tell me -- let's say it's someone who's not familiar with directing, even if they might, like, I know a lot of people are like really, what if they line read for you? Now saying that the people behind the booth may or may not be able to line read for you, but if it helps them express what they're looking for, I'm not offended by that. And I don't think that if you have a client trying to express what they're looking for, and maybe they're not as successful, you know -- just me being a director for so many years, like I know what it's like when you're trying to express what it is that you're looking for. It's not always the easiest thing in the world. And for people who aren't used to doing it, give them some grace and just try to listen and give them what they want.
Even if they say something completely weird and you're like, oh, so you want a little more smile or you give them more smile. And you're like, that was totally not what they said, just go with it because it's not easy for people who are not familiar or people who don't direct all the time to actually direct you. And don't let that increase your anxiety. Unless of course it becomes like two hours and you've given them the exact same take. You've come around circle and now you're giving them the take that you first gave them. And they're like, that's it <laugh> so. "I gave them 100 takes. And the one that they took was the one that I just did like my first take."
Erikka: I know, I know. Yeah, one thing that I'll do too, to sort of lower my anxiety and maybe even theirs, especially if they are relatively new or don't hire voice talent often and kind of are feeling their way through directing, you have to kind of feel the energy out, obviously in the client to make sure that this is okay. But for one, I'll kind of paraphrase back, especially if I get the line read, I'll also kind of explain. So you mean like you're looking for a little bit more upbeat, but still grounded? You know, like trying to do that because that way we're both clarifying what we mean and that can lower the anxiety on both sides. And/or I'll offer, would you mind if I did some triplets on this to play around with it and try different ways? They'll usually be like, yeah, sure, absolutely. So you do their line read and then kind of your interpretation of it, and they have options. They love having options.
Anne: Exactly. So I think that's a great piece of advice. Give them options. I'm always, when I'm being live director-ed, I'm always giving them multiple reads just in case, you know, maybe there was a click or something that's hard for them to get out in one of the words, they can grab it out of the second take. And that way -- I do that a lot with self-directed sessions, I'll give them multiple takes for them to choose from, but also in live, I give them the full session and I'll give them multiple takes. I'm like, I'm happy to read this again. A lot of times when they're happy and they'll say, oh, that sounds perfect, I get a little nervous. Because I'm like, what if there was a little -- like I've edited myself enough to know that maybe there was a little click or mouth noise or I don't know, something could happen where they could use an extra word that might be clean.
So I think giving them options and I think you taking the initiative and telling them, how about if I give you a set of three, so you can just pick and choose what you want later makes everybody happy and reduces the tension for sure. So I think in regards to being balanced, right, balanced in the booth and not overly anxious, these are some really excellent tips that we can take, whether we're self-directing or being directed by others on camera or off.
Erikka: Yeah. Preferably off.
Anne: <Laugh> Preferably off. Well, great episode, Erikka. I loved it.
Erikka: Yeah. This is fun, me too.
Anne: I love that we got to show our booth buddies and our pictures and our booth too. So I'd like to give a shout-out to my sponsor, 100voiceswhocare.org. You guys, if you ever wanted to do more to help your local community and give back with your voice, you can find out more at 100voiceswhocare.org to learn more about that. Also great big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. We love ipDTL because it allows us to connect with our other BOSSes and also with our clients.
So you can find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys, have an amazing week. Ah, get rid of that performance anxiety, that booth anxiety.
Anne: Breathe, and we'll see you next week. All right, guys, take care.
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voBOSS.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to coast connectivity via ipDTL.