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Whatever kind of video you are making a well written and performed voiceover can make the difference between success or failure. Here’s how to get it right every time.

There’s a little information here about the value and cost of voiceover but if you just want the tips click here.

Is it necessary?

Old man with white beard recording voiceoverA few months ago I was working with a client on a video. We had a budget, scope for production and time scale all signed off. We had written a script, produced a storyboard and were in the process of organising production.

The client called. They were stressed because they had been asked to reduce budget and were calling to find out what could be done.

“David. I’m sorry about the situation but I had an idea.

“What is it?” I enquired nervously.

“Would it be cheaper if we removed the voiceover?”

At this point in production it wasn’t going to make much difference. Any cost savings would be offset by the need to re-write the script and replan the video. (A discussion over cost vs. value led to an agreement to continue with the project as originally agreed. The end product left the client very satisfied)

This situation left me wondering though about the value that voiceover brings to a project.

The cost

Voiceover can be one of the most surprisingly expensive elements of the entire production process to people who aren’t in the industry.

Any voiceover work requires

  • Casting
  • Time from voiceover (VO) artist & maybe a director. The cost varies dependent on experience and talent.
  • Studio time
  • Perhaps an audio engineer is required
  • Usage – like all actors, VO artists get paid differently if their work is going to be viewed on your website or on TV, if a video is going to be watched by 1000 people or 1 million. There voice will always be on the video and as such they deserved to get paid for this.

For me, after producing 1000s of videos, I consider voiceover one of the most valuable elements to any production. The positive impact that good voiceover can bring is priceless.

When to use voiceover

Every video should tell a story. People connect with stories, which in turn helps them to connect with your business. 

In order to tell a story there are only three options:

  1. Visual storytelling – Telling the story purely through carefully chosen shots.
  2. Text – Using short and clear sentences, carefully designed, throughout the video
  3. Voiceover – The voice tells the precise story that you want. Leaving nothing to the viewers imagination.

Each one of these video types works best in different contexts and it is important to use the right one for the right reason. 

Visual stories are best for conveying simple themes and over-arching emotions.

Text are great for statistics or highlighting simple, practical benefits or facts.

Voiceover should be used for basically everything else. It allows more complicated emotions, themes, benefits, statistics, facts and stories to be told.

(Videos including actors are also an option but these are rarely necessary for corporate video and need to be used and written for carefully)

How to choose your voiceover artist?

Choosing the right voiceover artist for your project is key. Given that they are going to carry the pace and style of your video they have a lot of responsibility.

Tip #1 – Not everyone is a voiceover artist

Don’t just ask a colleague or friend to have a go. (Even if they have a really nice voice.) VO artists are more than just a voice. They are experienced at using their voices to convey meaning, draw attention to key points, engage an audience and imply emotion.

You can easily tell the difference between a professional and a ‘friend’

Tip #2 – Choose a voice that sounds like your audience

Know your audience. If you don’t know who your audience are then you have some important work to do.

Your audience will listen and trust a voice that sounds like the people they know, encounter and respect.

If your audience is from a particular location – find a VO artist that can produce that accent.

If your audience is of a particular age – find a VO artist that sounds appropriately young or old

Other questions you can ask to help you cast are:

  • Would an energetic voice suit your audience better or should it be calm?
  • Should the voice sound naive and full of discovery and wonder?
  • Should the voice be experienced and wise?
  • How fast should the voice speak to suit your audience – are they from a fast paced world or do they like to take their time?

The final question to ask yourself is what type of voice you want to represent your company? Although a well chosen VO will connect with your audience you also need to find a balance as they will represent you for as long as the video is available, which if you are putting it online, could be forever.

Tip #3 – Write your script to match your voiceover

Not technically about choosing the right voiceover artist this step is still vitally important. Once you know what type of voice you want write your script to match. Once you have chosen your VO artist you can always make some re-writes but this will help everything come together.

Tip #4 Take the time to cast

Speak to your video producer about casting properly. Send out a short sample of your script. Many VO artists and VO agencies are happy to record short auditions – although some charge a small fee.

Now you can hear the different options that all meet your original criteria reading an appropriate script. The final step is here… choose the VO that sounds best.

For more information about Smarter Video take a look here.

Please get in touch and let me know what you would like to learn or read about.

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