Voicing Under Pressure

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on January 30, 2020

With so much coverage of the impeachment trial taking place, I’m reminded of what it takes to be a broadcaster at the network level during a period when breaking news events go on for weeks. The pressure is great, and the demands are high. This is also true for voiceover artists as they advance with their careers. So what healthy and helpful habits can all of us learn from the pros?

One of my former clients who is a network correspondent faces the daily pressure of working in Washington during this important time in history. When speaking with him recently I was happy to hear that he still applies some of the things I taught him more than 20 years ago.

One of the things he mentioned is that he avoids caffeine. Now you’d think with 12 to 14-hour workdays he would be heading for  some caffeine all day long just to keep going. Quite the opposite, he says that caffeine only makes it harder for him to do good live shots and use his voice effectively. Plus he goes home unable to get to sleep when sleep is a precious commodity.  He knows the importance of staying hydrated, though, and makes water his go-to drink.

This client also diligently does some vocal exercises on his commute to and from the network or while taking a shower. He specifically considers articulation work something he has to be constantly vigilant about. He sticks to the plosive consonant exercises, which you can see by clicking here.

I recently saw some good advice in an interview with Peter Alexander, the NBC White House correspondent, in “Men’s Health” (January 25, 2020). He credits his ability to stay alert and ready for the demands of his 14-hour job to his eating habits. He starts each day with a high protein breakfast including hard-boiled eggs, fruit, and maybe yogurt. He continues this healthy eating at lunch with a large salad.  For some suggestions of more foods that give you a protein punch, click here.

This correspondent says he avoids the unhealthy snacks in the White House vending machines by bringing fruit with him from home and combining it with almonds and cashews at work.  Why is he so vigilant about his eating?  He has to stay sharp: “There’s a hurricane of information coming at you all day long. I have six TV monitors in front of me, and I’m making calls to sources and keeping up with tweets by newsmakers. You have to be prepared to walk in front of a camera on a moment’s notice and answer questions on any of more than a dozen topics.”

Following some of the healthy patterns these two network correspondents use can certainly make you better as a broadcaster or a voiceover artist. Learn from their many years of experience so you can continue to advance in your career just as they have been theirs.

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