Coaching Caveat Emptor

OK … we’re socially isolating. Theatres and recording studios are closed, no one is making commercials, or training videos – elearning and audiobooks may be growth areas, but for many, work is scarce. We have time on our hands – so why not brush up our skills? Now we have time to learn something completely new; add to our tool box, learn skills that may lead to more work opportunities – or simply polish the skills we already have. No more hours wasted in front the television, use your time wisely, learn something that will help your career!  Take some coaching … a great idea.

But … buyer beware!

Social media features so many posts from people offering ‘coaching’ – particularly in the field of VO. This is nothing particularly new  – but the trickle has become a flood! It’s natural enough I suppose: work is scarce, and everyone is looking for ways to help make ends meet.

Before you sign up for any coaching course (in any field, not just voice work) a word of advice – proceed with caution.  Just as not all ‘home studios’ are equal (see previous post) neither are all ‘coaches’.

I am sure you already know this, but at times like these, where you’re probably spending more time online than ever before and feel the need to fill your time usefully then a glossy website, a promotional offer, a tempting promise, a flurry of posts on twitter boasting about ‘I just signed up for ‘Terry Tonsil’s Terrific VO training course, only £25!’  can have you throwing caution to the wind – and before you know it, you and Terry are doing Skype sessions! The only problem is that Terry may just be another poor soul in search of a way to earn a crust.

He may have no more idea of what is involved in voice performance than I have in what is involved in flying a plane. – or – though he may be an excellent voice actor himself, he may have absolutely no idea of how to tranfer his knowledge to you! He may have no idea how to teach.  

So – what do you do? Caveat Emptor – buyer beware.

There have always been sharks out there who promise much but deliver very little – but here are some questions you should ask yourself before parting with your hard earned cash.

Is he or she experienced in this particular field? Do they know enough about it  – all of it – the technical stuff, the marketing stuff, the rates, the performance, how to deliver a script – all of those little things – do they have the experience necessary?

Who have they worked for … how much work have they actually done in this field?

Who has trained with them?  Can you contact others who have been coached by them to seek their opinion?

Do they have a proven track record as a coach – not just as a voice actor?

Are there testimonials from people they’ve worked with?

Is there a waiting list to get on their coaching course? If they’re any good, there probably will be.

Do they specialise in a genre you want to work in! 

Have they just started coaching? Of course every coach starts sometime – but ask yourself … why now?  Why in the midst of a global pandemic, is Terry Tonsil suddenly offering coaching. Could it possibly be because his other work has suddenly dried up?

Does what they offer seem very cheap?

Is there a full break down of what their coaching involves? What is Terry Tonsil’s commitment to you?

What is your gut reaction?  Walk away from the computer for half an hour before coughing up any cash … ask questions, delve below the surface, have a conversation with Terry (without committing yourself) ask him some tough questions. 

What are other people saying about him? There are numerous VO related groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Is Terry a member of any of them? Is he active in those groups? When did he join the group – yesterday – why? In order to post his promotional post perhaps?

Does Terry have a professional profile on Facebook and LinkedIn. 

If it seems to good to be true … then it probably is – as I say… all gloss and no substance.

Caveat Emptor – buyer beware.