A Guide to Voiceovers

The creation process for motion graphics or live production videos consists of distinct steps to help discover, craft, and direct us towards the end goals of the video. Once we have concluded the initial script writing step, which solidifies the message or storyline of the video, we have to start thinking concretely about the voice direction for the video. At this point in the process we must begin sourcing a custom voiceover for the script.

What is a Voiceover?

A voiceover is the narration which is heard reading the script, but the person speaking is not seen in the video. Typically, a voiceover is handled by a professional voiceover artist who is commissioned to work on the project. However, a voiceover could also be a person from the company, like a CEO or employee who has speaking experience or who has a recognizable voice.

Why Use a Voiceover?

While not all videos require a voiceover -- some videos rely only on typography and music -- voiceovers remain key factors in the success of a video. A voiceover allows the viewer to engage in the video through hearing information read aloud. It enhances a human connection and feel for the video. However, if the tone of the voiceover does not match the brand, feel, aesthetic or purpose of the video, it could be deemed as unattractive to the audience. Therefore, there are many factors that go into determining the perfect voiceover for a video project.

How to Pick a Voiceover

When choosing a voiceover, several characteristics can be defined during the audition step to generate the best possible audio samples for the video project But there are several things to keep in mind as you listen to potential voices and ultimately choose the best one. 

  • Know your audience.
    • Determine the demographics and psychographics of the audience
    • Who is the video aimed at?
    • What gender appeals to your audience; male or female?
    • What is your audience like, how do they act, what is their education level, what are their tendencies?
  • Define the right tone.
    • What emotion do you want to convey? (e.g. authenticity, comforting, etc.) 
    • How do you want your brand to be represented? (e.g. approachable, warm, professional, etc.)
  • Consider credibility.
    • In addition to emotion and tone, the voiceover must match the brand and be believable 
  • Make it memorable.
    • Choose a distinct voice
    • Help people remember what is communicated by eliminating distracting accents, inflection, and grandiosity
    • If creating a series of videos, consider using the same voiceover for a cohesive and memorable brand presence 

An Example

One of our earliest projects was with the good friends of ours over at Steelyard Studios. They wanted a brand video which communicated their hard work, discipline, and attention to detail. With roots in the steel industry, they desired a voice which conveyed a tough yet refined tone. We sought a voiceover which appealed to their audience in the consumer packaging industry and one which could match their brand story. After sampling several potential voices, the end product was something we could all be proud of - take a look: 

Steelyard Studios - Voiceover Sample

Conclusion

With an abundance of freelance voice artists, and several websites designed for hiring talent (like voices.com), it's important to establish clear goals for your voiceover selection early in the video production process. A good voiceover is just one ingredient, but it is a key ingredient for a successful video.