You’ve decided to make a corporate video. You’ve learned you need a quality voice-over, and while everyone says Bob from accounting has a great voice, you suspect a professional voice-over artist would be best for your project.
You haven’t worked with a professional voice-over actor before, so you decide to research a bit.
Easy, just Google it, right? Type it into Google and WHOA:
Now I’m guessing that you aren’t in the market for Helen Mirren, or even Nancy Cartwright (much as you may love Bart Simpson), and James Earl Jones – who wouldn’t want Darth Vader narrating their corporate explainer video?
About now you’re thinking, “oof – Bob DOES have a great voice,” and, well, he’s more in your budget.
Just below the all-star row, however, you get a bit of search-whiplash: Now it’s bargain time at $39.00 for female voice-overs- cheaper than Bob. Maybe just a little too good to be true…?
Further down the search results, we get all kinds of tips for getting INTO voice-over but not much else. And speaking of female voice-over – what kind of voice best fits your needs? Maybe Bob’s voice isn’t a good match.
Actually hiring a voice-over artist is a daunting task.
No problem, I’m here to help.
Of course, it would be easy at this point for me to say, “I’m your girl!”, but a lot goes into making a solid selection. Sure, I’d love to work with you, but more importantly, I want you to have a good voice-over experience, so let’s dive in.
How do I choose a voice-over artist?
We can break it down into three basic steps:
It’s a lot of material, but I’ve built in handy coffee/tea/beer breaks in between. We’ll look at Step 1 now, and I’ve linked Steps 2 and 3 for you. Bookmark this article and come back to it as much as you need.
Now, let’s look at what goes into selecting the best voice-over actor for your corporate projects, and you can decide for yourself if Bob is your best choice.
Step 1- Understand your brand and project’s needs
Who are you and what have you got to say?
Make sure you consider both the brand voice and the project mood as you choose a voice-over artist.
You likely already have a brand voice guide. What are the traits that describe your brand and the project?
For example, is your brand:
- Classical… etc.
Have at least three traits in your mind for your brand voice. For each of these, write a description, and some examples of what you DO say/do, and what you DON’T say/do.
Different brands require different voice-over types and skills. While Bart Simpson’s childlike silliness is great for a fun brand like Butterfinger, The Golden Secret is all Antonio Banderas: classy, sexy.
Matching corporate voice-over to the project type.
How about the project? Even a serious industry such as banking does well with a warm and friendly voice in an explainer video, but might want a more neutral style for a presentation to shareholders, and an authoritative style for an internal training on diversity or ethics.
And, while project emotion is important, what you say and how you want to speak to your client will also dictate the voice-over style you are looking for. Here are some styles to be aware of:
- Announcer – think “Voice of God”. Morgan Freeman embodies this.
- Presenting vs. Storytelling – both these styles are perfectly acceptable, but it just depends on how you want to speak to your client. Presenting is more about talking to them (like the big showman) and storytelling draws them in (like you are talking to your best friend).
- Voice actors – someone with professional acting experience who can put the emotion into a script, “lifting” it off the page. Bob from accounting’s voice may have the sound you like, but does he know how to make a script come to life? Voice actors also excel at taking direction and offering a wide variety of takes on a given script.
- Narrator – often the neutral observer, they excel in a longer form of writing, such as documentary style, explaining complex finance/scientific subjects or audio books.
- Girl/guy next door – these are likely to be voices used to create that conversational style of voice-over – often used in commercials, so you feel you are talking one-on-one rather than to a room full of people. They feel much more intimate, often used with a “storytelling” style.
Should we use a male or female voice-over artist?
People trust female and higher male voices – of course this varies for different products, companies, and customers. Traditional wisdom says male voices for male customers, female for female, but there is room to shake this up a bit. For example, I did a corporate voice-over for a video on how to insert male catheters, so it really just depends on what you feel best works for your company or product.
If your company voice has room to go outside the norm, you might try a gender role switch just to get listener’s attention. Also consider that the traditional understanding of your audience may be incomplete.
I recently listened to a voice-over for a Rugby event which used a wide range of voices to bring across its message, but I wish that it had included children and female voices. I believe they were cutting out a large part of their fan base by not recognising there are a lot of women who love the sport, love to watch it and see those incredibly large burly men getting in a huddle together. 😉
Serve your audience – give them what they want to hear.
Your audience is where the project meets the voice-over world. You likely have a good idea of your audience, but let’s take a closer look. If you had one perfect client, who would they be? Some brilliant questions to answer:
- What would they do for a living?
- Where do they live?
- What music would they listen to?
- What books would they read?
- What food would they eat?
- What would their house look like?
- What is their family make up?
- What is their age, and as we already mentioned, gender?
Answers to these questions provide clues about what kind of voice will appeal to your audience.
Combining your brand voice, the project voice, and how you want to speak to your audience gives you a solid grip on Step 1 – understanding your brand and project’s needs.
Grab your coffee/tea/beer, and take another look at Bob in Accounting. If you’re still thinking he may be a good fit, no worries, he can come along with us to Step 2 – Understand the range of voice-over offerings out there.
‘Debbie Bridge brings a difficult script to life.’ Click here to work with her.
P.S.: She is a certified wheeled-stuffed-reindeer rider.