Content Marketing

The Science of the Voice Over

When you’re looking to work with a voice over artist for your on hold messaging, explainer video, commercial or anything that needs an experienced narrator, it’s important to select someone who has just the right talent for your specific needs. A professional voice over is more than just someone speaking some words, after all, you could do that yourself! Using an experienced and skilled voice over artist is essential for communicating your message in the right way.

The best way, in my opinion, to find that perfect voice over artist is through good old Google – or whichever search engine you use! With most professionals having their own studios, you’re not limited to finding a voice over artist in your local area, so you can search until you find that perfect fit for your brand. When you’re making that decision, a voice over artist’s website offers a wealth of information to help you, from testimonials to samples of their work. If they don’t have any samples that exactly match what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to get in touch and ask for a custom sample to give you more of an idea if they’re the right fit. Most artists will even be happy to audition a portion of your actual script!

As the title of this post indicated, as well as there being an art to a professional voice over, there’s also a science to it, and that’s where a true professional will really make your script shine.

Voice Over Cadence

Getting the cadence, the rhythmic rise and fall of speech, right in a voice over is something that’s extremely difficult to achieve reading from a script, unless the person reading is a professional. While we all have a natural cadence and flow while we speak conversationally to each other, put a script in front of many people and the words become stilted and uncertain.

A successful voice over needs to sound natural while at the same time keeping to the required length of the script. While most people would either rush through the script or dawdle their words, a professional voice over artist has the experience and skills needed to modulate the rhythm of their speech to fit perfectly in the time given.

Voice Over Tone

The tone of voice used in a voice over has to perfectly match the brand, product and script, and most importantly, match in a natural sounding way. Whether it’s serious and calm for an on hold message at a medical center, conversational and guy/girl next door for a business explainer video, strong and punchy for a car dealership commercial, or any of the countless other tones of voice, it needs to be controlled throughout the performance, which isn’t always easy.

The tone of the voice over is such a big part of expressing your business and your products or services to your customers and potential customers, get that wrong, and it can spell disaster. As an example, if you’re producing a relaxation guide and the tone of your voice over is salesy and strong, you probably won’t be getting much repeat business!

Voice Over Volume

While volume is something that can, of course, be adjusted in post-production, it’s still something that should be as close as possible to perfection during the recording of the voice-over. The volume needs to be loud enough that every word and nuance is picked up by the mic, but not so loud that anyone working on the finished products has their ear drums blown! It also has to be consistent throughout, while sounding perfectly natural. While it can be tempting for many people to use an increase in volume to emphasize a word or phrase, a talented voice over professional will know how to use different aspects of their voice, such as cadence or tone, to do the same thing. The finished product won’t sound very professional with ‘shouty’ parts here and there, after all.

Voice Over Clarity / Diction

Clarity is essential in any form of voice over, because the listener needs to understand every word – if not all of the words were important to getting the message across, they wouldn’t be in the script. The difference between hearing the speech of voice acting and physical acting is obviously that listeners can’t see the voice actor’s mouth moving, which is a part of how we understand speech, so the process has to be completely aural.

Being easy to understand while remaining conversational is certainly a skill, and a science that voice over artists are particularly adept at. Speak too fast and some of the clarity is lost, but over-enunciate and speech is slowed down.

As you can see, the different parts of voice over technique often overlap, and the science of fitting them all together into a professional-sounding narration can be tricky. Get it right, though, and the power of the voice over will really have an impact on getting your message across!

Jason McCoy

As a voice over talent, Jason McCoy spends most of his time in a small padded room behind a mic. His voice has been featured on projects for Dell, Walmart, Honda and many more. He specializes in voicing explainer and online marketing videos. Listen to Jason’s demos or read his blog for guides and resources on topics related to voice over.

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