Just as there are stage and film styles, there are commercial styles, and you need to become familiar with them. Studying the medium will define what sort of work you’re best suited to book.

Here’s your homework and how you do it:  Commit yourself to studying popular television and commercial styles for no less than three to five hours a week. The more you do it, the easier this work will become because you’ll understand it on an entirely different level.

Start with recording the shows you watch religiously, commercials and all. The commercials that play during the shows you never miss are already geared to your demographic. They know you’re watching. You need to study them thoroughly.

Second, record popular shows that you’ve heard of but haven’t seen in order to stay on top of the popular references. Begin by studying the top ten on the Nielsen ratings. They’re listed every week in every major newspaper or via the Internet.

Record a good eight hours a week for a month: The Today Show, 30 Rock, a good sappy daytime drama, the evening news (as depressing as that may be), The Simpsons reruns on Fox, something on HGTV, or the Food Network, TLC, History Channel, Animal Planet, and maybe a little something on IFC (Independent Film Channel).  The idea is to record a good cross section of material. These examples cover nearly every demographic.

Other options to study: HBO, AMC, TCM, as well as anything from the four networks: ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.

Beyond becoming familiar with what’s current commercially, this work is likely to build your overall observational skills and allow you to discover the commercial styles you’re best suited to play.

Discover the entire SOUND ADVICE commercial-study process by purchasing The Sound Advice Encyclopedia of Voice-over and the Business of Becoming a Working Talent!