Finding Your Voice
Writers talk a lot about finding their voice.
In advertising you don’t really use your voice.
Sometimes you use your voice.
But in reality, it’s not REALLY your voice.
It’s the voice of the brand. Or maybe, it’s the voice of the consumer.
I like writing in different voices.
I’ve written in the voice of a kid.
I’ve written in the voice of people with different racial and cultural backgrounds than my own.
I’ve written in the voice of a talking dog who knows the secret recipe for Bush’s Baked Beans.
And I’ve pretty much mastered the voice of a busy, working mom who wants her family to connect over healthy meals using fresh ingredients that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.
That’s kind of a sweet spot for advertising in general.
Pretty much regardless of what you’re selling, capturing the voice of a busy, working mom who wants her family to connect over healthy meals using fresh ingredients that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, is going to get you results.
It could be men’s underwear with jock-itch spray engineered into the fabric and you’d still be targeting a busy, working mom who wants her family to connect over healthy meals using fresh ingredients that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. She’d just have a husband who frequently gets "itchy" down there.
But the writing I do on Kingdom of Failure is different.
For this kind of writing, you really do need to find your voice.
It’s okay if it sounds a bit like someone else’s. There’s no shame in paying homage to your influences. I think in pretty much all forms of creativity, borrowing is allowed. Just remember to put it back where you found it when you’re done.
But the rock we all stand on is unpredictable. It spins wildly beneath our feet— hellbent on taking us for another ride around the sun whether we want to go or not.
And in the context of this post the repercussions of that uncertainty lead me to this thought:
Sometimes you find your voice. And sometimes your voice finds you.
Which brings me to Sara Starling.
Sara is a well-known voice over talent from the UK.
And she reads my blog.
Which is incredibly nice of her and anyone for that matter. So if you’re reading this right now, thank you.
She also takes the time to occasionally comment on my posts. Which is another thing I consider incredibly nice. So again, if you’re reading this right now and you’ve commented, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I cannot describe to you the feeling writers get when someone reads what they’ve written. And if the reader should be so inclined to say something nice about it, then it goes to a whole different level. I can’t explain that either but there’s a lot of dopamine involved.
But back to Sara Starling.
I love voiceover talent. If I could be anything in the world, it would be a successful voiceover talent. The really good ones have a studio in their home. A voiceover session usually lasts no more than an hour and the good ones not only get a handsome rate for their time but they get the residuals just like actors. It’s the ultimate WFH gig.
But since I’m not a successful voiceover talent, I make do with the simple fact that I love working with them.
I had a great mentor at Leo Burnett who taught me how to do radio and the most important part is directing talent during a voice over session. There’s an art to it. I’m not shy about saying that I’ve mastered it and I can get a great performance out of anyone. It’s the one brag I’ll allow myself. I’m pretty average at most things in life but when it comes to running a recording session, I’ll put myself up against anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Bring it bitches.
So naturally, I checked out Sara’s demo reel on her website. You can listen to it here if you like.
I won’t keep you in any sort of suspense. I loved Sara’s voice the moment I heard it. First of all, it’s British. And I have an enormous sweet tooth for British voices. No one does the English language better than the English. Go figure.
But there was something else I heard in Sara’s voice. It was natural. It had no strain to it what-so-ever. It had a warmth that made me want to sit next to her on a park bench and talk about the weather. It charmed me, seduced me and put me at ease all at the same time. But there was something else. A twinkle that you could hear. A wink that came through the speakers. A sly grin in the form of timing and exquisite vocal rhythm.
I love that stuff.
I have a theory that we have three tools in our creative toolbox.
What you see. What you say. And what you hear.
I’ve always felt that what you hear is the most powerful tool. The music. The sound design. The voiceover talent. The way someone says something. Or doesn’t say anything at all. That’s where I think, many times, a piece of content can pick up a lot of spit and polish.
So I loved Sara’s voice and I loved the comments she made from time to time on my posts and perhaps, as the British say, I was feeling a bit cheeky and told her that if she ever had the time I would love to hear her reading one of my pieces.
And she did it. Crazy. Right?
I’m kind of blown away not only by her generosity but also from hearing a professional voiceover talent with over 30 years of experience working on some of the world’s most famous brands, read my drivel.
There are no visuals. Just Sara Starling’s wonderful voice and some nice sound design from her engineer husband, Leon. So sit back. Grab a cup of tea. And enjoy.
"The Man Who Sits Alone Typing"
Narrated by Sara Starling.
Thanks for reading and listening. I’ll see you again real soon.