Voicing our thoughts on corporate and commercial voice-overs, by Richard Keith

The way that clients expect you to communicate with them is evolving.  It is becoming even more important to use digital channels to reach new and existing markets – these channels include corporate videos and commercials.

The voice-over on these is crucial to ensuring each video has the specific impact that you want.

We’ve all been affected by the sound of someone’s voice.  It may have been a piece of professional communication, or  it could have been in your personal life – we’ve all heard someone speak and thought “wow, that sounds terrific”.

We’ve also heard the opposite…

Sometimes we are affected in a more subtle way. Occasionally, we’ll hear a voice and subconsciously react to it: that is, we hear it and are moved, but we don’t necessarily attribute our resulting thought or action to the sound of the voice we’ve heard.  But that doesn’t mean the voice wasn’t responsible for moving us in a particular way.As you know, we specialise in voices. Here at GPB we use a great deal of scientific analysis to advise clients on the elements that contribute to a wonderful voice: we know what makes your voice sound as good as it can, and ultimately we know what makes you sound persuasive.

 

Of course, we also understand the artistic and creative elements of effective spoken communication that help to ensure that words come to life in a natural but impactful and memorable way.  You’ll be pleased to know that we adopt the same balanced approach of art and science when we do corporate and commercial voice-overs.  So what makes a good voice-over really stand out?

Authenticity.  Whilst this is important for all communication, there is an added layer here.  If we don’t have any visual cues (i.e. facial expression, gesture etc) to guide us, it is even more important that the voice sounds completely believable. The voice-over artist must sound relaxed and conversational rather than ‘performed’, but perhaps more importantly, they must sound utterly knowledgeable on the business and industry about which they are speaking. This is especially true when the artist is delivering a voice-over that isn’t dialogue with another person but is, rather, a ‘conversation’ with the audience.  If they don’t sound as if they belong to your company, nobody is going to believe what they are saying about it.

Pitch modulation and emphasis. Whilst our old friend “the pause” is important, creating effective pauses becomes more the job of the director and editor for a voice-over.  However, bringing the story alive is down to the artist, and good pitch modulation (going up and down in pitch, frequently and with purpose and for an effect) adds dynamism and engagement to the delivery. In addition, using pitch modulation to emphasise key points (e.g. names, figures, essential benefits) will help the audience hear the most important pieces of information.  This helps key points stay in the minds of an audience, which is very useful.

 

Be comfortably surprising. The great artistry in any voice over is to deliver lines in a way that surprises a listener in a good way.  The skill of taking words and turning them into stimulating and impactful communication is a real talent.

If a voice-over is too different to what listeners expect then the audience is put off; if it’s too similar then they get bored.

You want a ‘Goldilocks’ performance – this is what imprints a voice-over onto the mind of an audiences long after it has finished.

Emotional congruence.  We have always been upfront about the need to engage the emotional aspects of clients’ decision-making process. You need to tap into their emotions by being honest about yours.  When your words say one thing, you have to make sure that the sound of your voice aligns with this and conveys the same message.  A voice-over is no different.  In fact, because of the aforementioned lack of visual clues, it is perhaps even more important to make sure what is said and how it is said align to tell the right story.

Have something really good to say.  Whilst the sound is essential to a quality voice-over, there is no doubt that the really impactful and memorable voice-overs have at their heart intelligent and stimulating words. Like the old saying goes, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – so avoiding gimmicks and lazy content always helps the finished product sound fantastic.

Understanding and delivering on all of the above makes for something really worth listening to.

As Christmas approaches, and our ears are exposed to the numerous voice-overs from the worlds of advertising and marketing, why don’t you set yourself a task?  Listen to the voices (no, not those in your head, that’s just the eggnog talking – I mean those on the outside of your head on the TV, Radio and Internet ) that are delivering the voice-overs.

As you listen try to analyse them, ask yourself and others:  Are the voice-over artists using good pitch modulation?  Are they aligning the emotions of what they are saying and how they are saying it? Does the voice match the brand image being conveyed?  If the answer is no to any of these, how could it be improved? As always, if you hear any really good – or bad examples! – we’d love to know, so please email us.

Merry Christmas & Happy Listening to all!

By Richard Keith

 


"speak up" articles |