9 Tips for Choosing a Voice Over Talent
Congratulations. Your hard work of research, writing and rewriting has paid off and you finally have a script for your company’s new video! Now–if you haven’t already–it’s time to find someone to bring your words to life.
Occasionally this search can begin–and end–right at work. After all, who else knows your company’s “story” and brand better than its owner or CEO? (Consider Wendy’s Dave Thomas, George Zimmer for Men’s Wearhouse, or even our “friend in the diamond business,” Tom Shane from The Shane Company.)
Obviously, there are plenty of examples when this wasn’t a good idea. Truthfully, this is usually a job that’s better left to a voiceover (VO) professional. Either way, we’re here to help you successfully navigate this part of the video production process with a list of important considerations:
1. Think brand first
When searching for voice talent, keep in mind, this person will be representing your company’s brand. So strive to find a voice that personifies (or at least, compliments) your company’s tone, character and unique personality. To this end, it often helps to ask, “if my company was an actor/famous person/etc., who would it be?” Once you’ve settled on a direction, you can then set out to find a voice that’s similar or offers many of the same (vocal) characteristics.
Some services, products or brands are fairly gender specific and naturally lend themselves to a particular voice for more obvious reasons. When selecting a male or female voiceover should focus on which one you feel your target audience would relate to and connect with more. Either way, once you’ve settled which direction you prefer, it’s important to find the right tonality that works best regarding the essence of your content. In the light of diversity, going with a gender-neutral voice may be an option, too.
Friendly. Dramatic. Authoritative. “How” your script is read is just as important as “what” is actually said. So, if your video offers a “how-to” message, you’ll probably want to direct your voice talent to “read with a smile” so their tone comes across as positive, helpful or even encouraging. Even if your video’s message is more on the technical side, remember, most people want to be spoken “to” not “at”. In general, a message will resonate with an audience when it’s delivered in a friendly, more conversational manner.
“Said” not “read”. When an actor reads your script, the last thing you want is for them to sound like they are an actor reading your script. The “best” delivery is one that sounds genuine. Even if it’s delivered by an “expert”. Because more often than not, content is received (i.e., heard and processed) more intently if it sounds less deliberate or “prepared”. Additionally, if a read is too fast, the talent may come across as nervous or less believable. If it’s too slow, they may seem unsure about what they’re saying and, further, your audience may not believe what’s being said in your video.
The best way to successfully connect–and engage–with your audience is to ensure that your VO comes across with sincerity and a certain level of “emotion”. Yes, this even applies to technical content that’s fairly straightforward and tends to be a bit “dry”. Also, it’s important that your voice professional offers some degree of versatility. That way, when you’re not quite sure how a particular line should be read, they can provide you with a few options. This can come in very handy when you’re editing the audio track. It’s always nice to have choices!
Consider your target audience and what sound they might respond to best or “whom” they’ll believe more? For example, an English accent could help to “elevate” the messaging (and brand perception) for an upscale sports car. While a Cajun restaurant might consider using a voice actor with a southern Louisiana accent for a bit of authenticity. Usually, if business is in the area–or region–your aim should be “relatability”. You absolutely want to sound like a local.
Enunciation is a fairly obvious quality to expect from your VO, right? Absolutely! For this reason alone, our advice is to employ the services of a trained and experienced professional voice actor. They will nearly always deliver the words of your script–clearly and accurately–exactly as you wrote them. Here again: remember your brand! Perhaps nothing will lessen the perceived quality of your brand quicker than a voice actor who mumbles or mispronounces words.
Will this video be a one time thing? Or, in respect to your brand, is this the beginning of something longer term? If so, the voice talent you choose for this video might go on to become “the voice” of your brand. So, as we said above, “think brand first.” That is, try to find a voice talent that personifies your brand. If “this is the one”, you might want to draw up an agreement (contract) with the VO or their agent/representative to ensure they’re available when you need them and that they won’t do (or haven’t already done) work for any of your competitors.
The recording quality is so important. Any remote voice over professional should have a great mic. Then your editor or audio mixer can add the final polishes to make the VO pop with a music track. So, if you find someone in your company to read your script, don’t just use a computer mic – everyone can tell a quality recording from something that just sounds ‘off.’ Get a decent mic, or just use a professional studio, like the one we have at our office.
At People Productions, we’ve been successfully creating great video and audio content for our client’s for more than 30 years. (Visit our portfolio page to see all the different types of work we do!) And if you’d like to discuss our production process–or could use some help–contact us any time. We can help with the creative vision of your video and help write the script. We’d love to put our wide range of broadcast, marketing and corporate know-how to work for you and your project.
Be sure to check out our recent insight about:
How to Write an Effective Video Script