By Sam Devereaux
I have often thought that a good voiceover artist shares a surprising amount in common with an elite athlete. Both require rigorous initial training followed up by continuous professional development. Both need to be very physically fit and well-conditioned to fully realise their talent each time they show up for work. However, if there is a place where the elite diverge from the promising in sport it is almost always to do with mentality. The old cliché of “his head’s gone” is still a common analysis in tennis for example. In voiceover it’s notable how often an artist will struggle to fulfil their potential because they neglect their mental preparation. It was the desire for a stronger mentality that brought me to Anna Parker-Naples in January.
I have been a beneficiary of many wonderful opportunities to develop my skills with The VoiceOver Network since joining in May 2015, but the chance to explore the potential of Neuro-linguistic programming (or NLP) was particularly exciting. I have been a fan of Anna’s for many years and when our paths have crossed I have always been struck by how even-tempered and focused she appears. She seems to have very little of the conflicting energies or neuroses that are common to many a creative person (myself included!) As she began our workshop I quickly realised that her powerful demeanour was partly the result of having gained the ability to reprogram her brain via NLP.
I explored my fear of failure
I had been vaguely aware of NLP and the potency of deep hypnosis for many years. I had also found myself feeling sceptical about its benefits. Surely it makes far more sense to overcome one’s deficiencies through sheer force of talent and macho will? I quickly discovered that approach is like trying to alter the qualities of a microphone by shouting louder at it! Working with my partner for the day (the marvellous Roger Woods) I learned that NLP uses deep hypnosis to alter the habitual thought patterns that trigger negative ideas and behaviour. In my case I explored my fear of failure. Roger likened the process to repositioning the plugs on an old recording desk to provide a different sounding mix. After a few hours, I was able to replace my fear with a sense of confidence. What is remarkable about the process is that 3 weeks later the changes I made still feel permanent and empowering.
Winning the head game is everything
When Roger Federer recently overcame Rafael Nadal to win a Grand Slam tournament for the 1st time in 5 years it was clearly a triumph of mentality. At 35 he is nearing the end of his top-line career yet so well-tuned was his mental approach that he was able to conjure up a result few would have predicted. NLP is the most potent and useful professional tool I have ever discovered. As great sportsmen show us winning the head game is everything. The same is true for voice over. So, get your head right and give it a try.
By Sam Devereaux
Sam Devereaux trained to be an actor at Arts Educational Schools, London. Through 10 years of work on stage and screen it became obvious that his best asset was his voice and in 2014 he went full time into voice over. Sam now records audiobooks for Audible and voices as many cartoons and video games as he possibly can.
The next 'Breakthrough Succes for Voiceovers' workshop with Anna Parker-Naples will be on 27th January 2018.