Here are tips to pick the right voice-over talent to give your video content the right sound that will resonate with viewers.

When I read video scripts, I can automatically visualize what the audio should sound like. As a radio announcer with 25 years of experience who has made the transition to video marketing, it’s second nature to think about the voice-over first, but for a lot of my customers, it’s not something they consider until after they’ve settled on the script and the animations.

Don’t underestimate the power of voice.

When you don’t think about how you want it to sound until you see the end product, you may not know something has to be tweaked until you hear the audio with the visuals. Then we have to go back and tweak the script, adjust the animations and lengthen the production time to get it just right.

Here are some tips for picking the right voice-over talent for your video:

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1. Start thinking about it early on in the process

You need to make a thoughtful choice about how your video will sound. It’s not a knee jerk decision. I’d recommend that you start thinking it during the script process.

To get the wheels turning sooner, I’ve started to send clients a lot of samples to review from our talent pool. I usually send them the most professional, neutral-sounding voice first because you don’t want it to overpower the visuals and the message. Once you have a baseline, you can decide what sound works best for your video and your audience.

Sometimes, you will know the voice right away when you hear it.

2. Pick a voice that appeals to the demographic you’re targeting

Sometimes, you will know the voice right away when you hear it. If you aren’t sure, we’ll narrow it down by looking at your target demographic.

Generally, if you’re speaking to a male demographic, you’ll want to go with a female voice. And if you’re targeting a female audience, you want the male voice. Of course, there are exceptions and it all depends on the messaging.

Here are some examples:

Scenario 1: We were creating a video for a company that was speaking primarily to female traveling nurses  
Talent: Female voice
Why? It wasn’t intimidating, and there’s certain comfort you get from hearing your own gender.

Scenario 2: We were producing a video on a site for mothers
Talent: Female voice
Why? You wouldn’t put a male voice on a site talking to mothers-to-be

Scenario 3: We were creating a video for a client that offers insurance for people in the military (primarily males), but wives are generally the ones buying the insurance
Talent: Female voice
Why? We chose to go with a happy, generic female voice that speaks to both sexes.

Once we narrow down the demographic, I will send over my top three picks, and clients will usually know what to do from there.

3. Match the audio with the format

Viewers have different expectations for different formats. Here are some broad suggestions for which voices clients tend to go with for different video types:

  • White boards: Something more fun – you want it to sound a bit educational, but in disguise
  • A day in the life: Pick a voice and stick with it, even if the personas you’re covering are different genders
  • Website demos and animations: Most clients tend to go more on the male side

Another note: Use a consistent voice if you’re creating videos in the same style or series.

4. Be open minded and don’t be afraid to break the mold

Stay open minded, because though you may have a vision about how it should sound when we start, that vision can change when you hear different voices. Don’t go into the process thinking your video has to be a certain way, or like your competitors’.

Don’t go into the process thinking your video has to be a certain way, or like your competitors’.

 

You want to stand out.

You want it to stand out. You want it to be different.

There’s been a trend toward younger, quirky voices. If I know a client is looking to update its brand, or use a little humor in the video, I’ll send them something that might not be typical. That is, not your run-of-the-mill professional, male voice that most businesses have used for the past couple of decades.

Now that more companies are producing videos, there’s pressure to do something different to stand out. A lot of companies are looking for these videos to define their culture, so I’ve been including an oddball voice in the samples I send and have found that clients have been really receptive.

Here’s another example: We were working with a client that makes software for theater box offices. Naturally, the first pick was a theater-trained male voice. But when we finished the video, the audio fell flat. We ended up going with radio-trained talent, and it made the finished product more dynamic.

5. Remember you’re working with talent

We have a wide range of talent. We have options and we might not send you the obvious choice, but this is just to help you pick best one for your video.

Because we’re working with voice actors, we can give them direction to get the sound just right for any given project. Sometimes, when I’m in the studio I’ll read the line the way I think it should be read, and have the talent repeat it back. If I think it’s running flat, I’ll have the talent try it a completely different way.

We can do a line a couple of different ways, and then let the animator take it and see how it matches with the animation and pick the best one. That’s the beauty of post production!

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If you’re worried about how it’s going to come across, we can send over a quick sample to make sure we’re on point with your vision. It’s important that the voice associated with your brand is just right, which is why we invest so much time and thought into it, and encourage you to start thinking about it as a key element of your video strategy.Voice talent can't be an afterthought - it needs to be a basic part of the video marketing process.

For more tips from our video experts, check out these related resources:

I am a professional radio announcer with over 25 years experience in the Boston market looking to expand my freelance voice over opportunities for local and national commercial projects. I am currently working as a Video Content Associate for Brafton Custom News Marketing while honing my writing skills for a number of freelance projects, including a manuscript for a children's book about Boston's historic Big Dig. "Boston's Other Green Monster: A Story About the Big Dig" is currently in the editorial stage, with an eye on publishing between September and December 2013. My resume includes a variety of voice over work including the narration for "TEACH," an award winning documentary about the Boston Public School system.