As we covered in part one – link of this three-part series, Corporate video guide: How to hire a voice-over artist (with examples), finding a quality voice over artist for your corporate video project is not just as simple as a quick Google search, or hiring Bob from accounting (who has a great voice).
The number of choices can be overwhelming, but I’ve broken it down into three steps for you:
In Step 1 you learned about your brand voice, the project voice, and how you want to speak to your audience. Now let’s take that deeper self-knowledge into the next step.
Step 2 – Understand voice-over (what’s out there, anyway?) Que Star Trek music?
There’s a lot of lingo in the voice-over world. When describing a voice people toss words like tone, pitch, pace, role, popshields – pop-whaaaa? It’s a lot to take in. Let’s take a look at the core vocal traits, some trends, and match them to your project.
What does tone mean in voice-over? (6 core traits of a voice-over performance)
Tone: Implies the emotion and meaning behind the words. When your parent said, “Don’t speak to me in that tone, young lady/man,” you knew exactly what they meant. Most of the meaning comes from the WAY something is spoken, rather than the words. This is where a voice actor can really shine; there are so many ways to say the same thing. What tone do you want? Examples include: authoritative, soft, deep, confident, friendly, bright, warm, sexy, rebellious, etc.
Role: What role is the person speaking in? Even if it is not obvious in the script, deciding the role of the speaker helps inform the tone and relationship to the listener. Is the speaker from your company like the CEO? Or are they a customer? Or a Doctor? Make sure you know who is speaking and why; this will help you clarify your expectations.
Speed and pitch: Is this project for a ten-second radio slot and you want a ‘hard sell’? Or are you going for a one-minute explainer video about how cancer ruins lives? The first requires fast delivery, while the second needs a slower speed. Pitch (how high/low the voice is) also affects the emotions; lower can soothe, or be sexy, higher can be childlike, or more “trustable”.
Age: How old is the person who is speaking? Don’t be surprised that your voice actor can be a child, parent and old lady. That is what you pay us for! So, if you want this to sound older or younger, be sure to explain that when you send out your description.
Accent: Right now, as of 2021, North American Neutral is the most used accent for global promotion, which makes this accent the easiest to understand for any international clients you wish to reach out to. However, there is a strong regional trend, so regional accents can be appropriate, depending on the project.[visual]
Now, combine your audience profile (from Step 1) with the voice qualities above, for example:
- A younger audience may engage with a faster, more energetic pace and higher tone, while an older audience may need a slower pace and have trouble hearing higher tones.
- Tech professionals from the Western US may identify more with a fast, professional, straightforward delivery, whereas people from the Southern US may expect a slower, more personal, casual delivery.
- Educators may connect with a gentle, medium-paced delivery.
Current trends in corporate voice-over (2021):
Today’s world is often about the latest this and the latest that, and you want to respond to trends, so think about that when putting together your voice-over project.
- With the present cultural Covid-19 trauma, the trend is toward a more conversational style; people wanna feel good!
- If you are targeting a specific ethnicity, it is becoming industry standard to make sure the voice artist has that cultural background.
- As mentioned above, the most common international English sound is Standard American. However, keep in mind ethnicity and regional accents as they relate to your brand and audience.
Now you’ve got some vocabulary to describe the type of sound you are looking for, let’s take a look at the business side of hiring a voice-over professional. We’ll talk about relationships, contracts, and what makes someone a professional voice-over actor.
Serve your company – look long term
Is this project just a one-off, or are you looking for a longer-term “brand” voice? Let these things inform the style of contract and voice-over professional you are looking for. You are investing in your brand perception and in a professional relationship.
Building a relationship with a professional voice-over actor allows trust and mutual benefit on both sides. Often, we voice-over pros have a broad network in the industry (for example: I run Voiceover Brighton & Sussex which gives me access to over 200 VOs), and can recommend other talent if you need a different voice or additional resources for a project. A solid relationship also means that you can negotiate different rates for charity, for example. Or collaborate on a script.
A year-long contract is typical and allows you to build this relationship. Contracts can be shorter or longer, but a year is the norm. Sometimes you will want to keep using the same project, so a common option is to just renew the contract.
Anything can happen in a year, so it’s a suitable length of time. Your company can change, markets can change: This year you may find having a loud and brash advert works with a male voice-over, but next year, you may find you want the softer and gentler tones of a female voice because your product has changed to a completely different market.
Get the most for your money (and time)
As we saw at the beginning, voice-over services are available all the way from Fiverr to Helen Mirren. Somewhere in there is a good fit for you. Is this a casual project where filming on your iPhone and using a headset built-in mic has the impromptu feel you want? Then using Bob from accounting might be perfect. Most of the time, however, a professional voice-over artist is the best deal. As you look at voice-over profiles, gauge the professionalism of the talent with the following questions.
7 questions to separate the professional voice-over talent from the amateurs
- Professional Voice-Over Experience – Does this voice-over actor have authentic experience as a working voice talent? A professional will have connections in the industry, experience with timelines, knowledge of billing, collaborate on your script (if desired), and take direction well.
- Is this professional working full-time? How available, timely, reliable, and consistent are they?
- Range and Versatility – What vocal range do you need? Nuance? Can they lift the words off the page? Are they a narrator and/or voice actor? Do their samples show a range of characters?
- What training do they have? A lot of profiles say “I was always told I had a great voice.” but just a “great voice” isn’t enough. Do they have professional vocal training?
- What clients have they worked with? Are there some quality clients and projects in their testimonials and sample lists?
- Do they have a quality recording studio and editing ability? This can be a roadblock for in-house voice-over. A quality studio combined with editing experience really separates the amateur from professional in both turn around and usability of the end product.
- Rates and Pricing – Are they within your budget?
That’s it for step 2!
Now you’re ready to search!
You know 90% more about how to hire a voice-over artist.
You’ve put a lot of thought into this! Your coffee/tea/beer mug is likely empty, so grab a refill and Bob, and head to where the rubber meets the road: Step 3- How to choose the perfect voice-over artist for your corporate needs.
(On second thought, you might just leave Bob with his beer. It would be awkward to have him give you puppy-dog eyes if you choose someone else.)
Or contact Debbie to get a free demo – just click here!