When it comes to voice over in commercials, even though the number of projects in television and radio are declining, the growing popularity of commercials on YouTube, podcasts and other online streaming services, provide plenty of options for commercial work.
Commercial Voice Over Jobs
The main job of the commercial voice over professional is to promote a particular product or service. This promotion may involve narration or voice acting, depending on the type of commercial the voice over artist is recording. These commercials may be broadcast on the radio, on television, in podcasts, over the Internet or, more recently, through smartphone applications.
Additionally, commercial voice over jobs are applicable to nearly any industry. They are most popular among businesses based in industries such as retail, hospitality and entertainment, but are often found in other sectors as well.
When casting a voice actor for a commercial job, there are many things you need to consider to ensure the end product will produce your intended effect. You will need to make sure that you have crafted a great script that will properly direct and support the voice actor’s skill and really hit on all of your key points. If you get stuck on how the script should be written, you can take a look at a few sample scripts to get you all set up for scripting success.
Commercial Voice Over Talent
Given the sheer range of applications for commercial voice overs, it is an absolute necessity for voice artists to possess great versatility. They may be asked to perform humorous sketches or speak in an authoritative tone. Either way, such jobs must be undertaken in both a professional and creative manner.
The demographics of your audience will affect how you categorize ‘the ideal commercial voice over artist.’ The sound you select may also vary greatly depending on the industry and the type of commercial being recorded. Many advertisers choose an accent, gender or age group based on your commercial’s specific offering – and who it appeals to.
It is important to choose a voice that sounds like the audience you are targeting, as generally, people like to gather information from a voice that sounds like it could be a peer (learn more about sounding like a peer in the 2018 Trends Report). This means making sure the gender and voice age match that of your end users. Along with age and gender you will also want to think about the region or area where the commercial will be viewed. You might consider using a local accent for places where distinct accents can be heard.
When choosing a voice actor for your commercial, be sure to listen to many demos and decide what voice is best suited for your commercial. Explore some of the amazing voice talent and listen to their demos to find the perfect voice for your job.
Commercial Style Can Influence Voice Over: Do You Have a Hard Sell, Soft Sell, or Medium Sell?
One other consideration that can help guide the style of voice you choose, is the type of sell in your commercial script.
For instance, a soft sell is categorized as persuasive and friendly. So, if your commercial is trying to convey this tone, you may opt for a voice over style that feels familiar to the target audience, and not too pushy – maybe like the girl or guy next door.
However, if you’re opting for a hard sell, which is more aggressive and plays upon limited-time offers, you may find that an attention-grabbing announcer voice is a more powerful choice.
Once you’ve decided that your video content will have voice over (and it should!) you then want to get to work on crafting a great script for the voice over artist who will be reading the narration. Considering these factors now will also help make sure that you are not having to do many retakes of the read.
You can set yourself and your voice actor up for success, by following these tips:
Write clear copy – As a rule of thumb, you should write your scripts as if you are writing for broadcast. This means writing in the same manner that you would speak. Think about the words you’ve chosen and how they flow when spoken out loud. Does it sound conversational – or stiff and forced?
Properly space your script – Provide your voice talent with a script that is double-spaced in order to allow them to clearly read the words. This will also give them room to write notes or add in markups to the script, which will assist them in nailing the read.
Use simple punctuation – If you need to indicate a pause in speech, make sure to add in commas or even ellipses, to signal a natural break during the read. If you want to place emphasis on portions of the script, use boldface on words that need extra ‘oomph’ to indicate this direction to the voice talent. Avoid more complex punctuation, such as percentage signs or dollar signs. Instead spell out the symbols. For example, ‘eight dollars’ is preferable to $8.
Proper pronunciation – You want the script to be as easy to read as possible. Be sure to write out the phonetic spelling of any difficult or unfamiliar words. Avoid tongue twisters.
Abbreviations and numbers – As a best practice, you should spell out any abbreviations to avoid confusion on how they should be read. Chances are, if an abbreviation is causing you to pause, you should be spelling it out. For example, an acronym like ‘ROI’ could be mistakenly read as ‘Roy,’ unless you present it as ‘R-O-I’ in your script. Alternatively, you can include both the full word and the abbreviated version. Example: FBI can be written out as ‘Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI.’ When it comes to numbers, be sure to spell out any numbers under twelve and hyphenate phone numbers for a smoother read (example: 1-2-3-4).
Once you receive the audio file, you should ensure that the voice over read sounds like you wanted it to (this has a lot to do with the direction you’ve provided to the talent and the script you have written). A seasoned voice over professional will appreciate and follow your clear direction from the very beginning of a project.
However, If you have ever received a voice over that didn’t sound quite like you had imagined it would, it can be hard to put your finger on exactly what’s ‘off.’ However, the following three key indicators are a good place to start.
Tone – the tone of voice plays a huge role in how narration can sound. Listen to the tone. Does it engage the audience throughout? Although some scripts may be a bit dry and complex, the tone of voice can really help bring it to life.
Volume – is the volume appropriate? Does it get too loud or too soft in certain parts? You will want to pay attention to any variations in volumes.
Pacing – the rate of speech can have an impact on how engaging your script is. Too slow of a read will be boring and not keep learners engaged the entire time. But too fast of a read means your audience may not be able to absorb the message. According to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the average American speaks at around 150 words per minute, when engaged in conversation.When you’re listening back on your voice over, it should sound clear to your ears. Note if you are tuning out at any parts or getting lost because the pace is not just right. This is an indication that the pacing may be slightly off.
Twenty-some years ago I left the acting profession to raise a daughter. My devotion to theatre was replaced by devotion to family. That daughter grew up and she is now on her own. Along the way, my wife and I had four more children. We live on a 3-acre spot near the woods. I record in a small studio next to the house with an isolation booth I built myself. Continue reading