5 Voice Over Roles : Which are you?

share on facebook share on twitter share on linkedin

5 paintsWhile there are many ways to communicate a message, the art of voice over is tops for delivering the human touch.
Which role suits your voice? Learn more about five different styles of voice over used for commercial and industrial use and leave a comment about the style you work with the most.

Over the centuries, the art of communicating with other people about a given purpose and the transmission of the spoken word, the most powerful, persuasive, and distinctly human tool in any marketers arsenal, has evolved to the degree that you don’t have to be in the same room to get a message across, even the same country for that matter. Geographic locations and time zones afford little to no obstacle for communicating with others in a meaningful and cohesive way.

With all of the advantages this new world and new media bestows, it is very important that a message received is a message that is understood, believed and acted upon. Much of this depends on the copy writing and voice over skills of the messengers, which brings us to five different character roles you can perform as a voice talent to get the message of your client across in a direct and effective way.

1. Instructor (formal, didactic voice over)
2. Real Person (informal voice over)
3. Spokesperson (advocate, authoritative voice over)
4. Narrator (omniscient storyteller)
5. Announcer (sets the stage and calls for action)
Let’s explore these types of character roles in detail.

1. Instructor
When teaching someone on what to do, for example, a corporate training video or children’s game, the voice over best suited for this kind of project is a straightforward, didactic and educated voice. The role of this particular voice talent is to instruct or provide information to fulfill a specific goal or purpose.

2. Real Person
Projects requiring a more casual approach often benefit from relatable, genuine voice overs. These voice overs are referred to as “Real Person” voice overs, commonly known as the “regular guy” or the “girl next door”. The character is homegrown, sensible, and friendly with a touch of familiarity and provides a more intimate interpretation that instills trust.

3. Spokesperson
A Spokesperson can be on camera or off camera depending on the medium you are using. The role of a spokesperson is generally played by a confident, charismatic person able to promote a cause, product, or service with ease and authority. A voice over of this nature needs to be driven, optimistic and assured.

4. Narrator
Storytelling is where the Narrator is most at home. Omniscient, courteous and honest, a Narrator’s job is to provide an audio landscape for a listener, briefing them on background information, posing questions, and providing solutions as they guide their audience through a program or documentary. Narrators can be male or female, and the most important factors are that they can communicate clearly and engagingly.

5. Announcer
The Announcer, often heard live at events, on commercials, promos or introducing segments for podcasts, is a product of the broadcast age, most celebrated at its height in the Golden Age of Radio and early television broadcasts. Announcers can introduce an idea and assertively make a call for action at the conclusion of a commercial advertisement or short video. One common misconception is that an announcer has to sound like an announcer from decades ago, however modern announcers act more like Narrators, and in many cases, adopt the Real Person approach.

Do you find that you are hired for a particular kind of read? Which of these five roles do you identify best with?
Leave a comment and let the discussion begin!

share on facebook share on twitter share on linkedin

Related articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Brian in Charlotte
    March 22, 2007, 4:16 pm

    Much to my surprise, I am often hired for the “regular guy”…I don’t really like my real guy voice, but that gets me more work that I can count.

  • Bob Souer
    March 22, 2007, 6:47 pm

    Very interesting thoughts today. Thank you for stimulating my thinking this way.
    Be well,

  • Bobbin Beam
    March 23, 2007, 11:11 am

    Those who have been doing this for a while have learned the fine nuances in voice delivery to accommodate reader “types” or roles. It is because we are called upon to do so.
    Versatility allows you to become the voice for many role types.
    What is so critical is to “know thy audience”. Many voice artists make make the shift almost automatically upon review of the script. And of course, like any business, there are trends and cycles, and you may find yourself developing a niche… it lasts a while and then there are other needs throughout the industry which changes up things.
    Some things however, remain constant, I believe. I think it’s because my Dad was a doctor, one sister a med tech, another a scrub nurse, another an LPN, and a brother in law who’s an opthamologist, I have an uncanny knack for getting all these medical and highly technical scripts sound like they make sense, when they are almost like speaking a foreign language!
    Thanks for “listening”.

  • Cookie
    March 23, 2007, 11:43 am

    I love these Vox Daily’s! They are informative, helpful and basically just reiterate what we already know, but in a nice compact little reminder. Love it! I am definitely “real person” although I do narration weekly for Insight for the Blind.

  • Winfred Henson
    March 25, 2007, 9:56 am

    I’ve had the opportunity to do most of those but I think that spokesperson is the one for which I’ve received the most requests. I want to do more narrations because I just love telling stories.

  • Rebecca Brown
    March 31, 2007, 3:21 pm

    What a great article! I find I can identify with the Instructor simply because of my background as a Physician Assistant and love of medical terminology (lots of big words!) But I being the Narrator and creating a colorful world and interesting characters with just my voice. But, then there’s the Real Person…wait, I don’t have multiple personalities, do I (or I)?

  • Charles Kahlenberg
    August 15, 2011, 1:04 pm

    Ad Hoc….

  • Howard Ellison
    August 16, 2011, 11:06 am

    More excellent tuition – thankyou Stephanie.
    When I started, I strove to bury my (as I thought) ‘English vicar’ tones – but found that people wanted to buy them! Then came gigs at the opposite end of the field – manic football commentary, loopy female – and some challenges in between, including an audiobook with 20 characters to at least indicate if not fully inhabit. Despite a deepish voice, I never quite nailed the ‘generic’ ‘manly’ ‘authoritative’ commercial voiceover… where I suppose the Neumann-buying money is! One of the many great things about Voices.com is you get a chance to explore every genre. Actors we are of course, but surely we please our audiences best if we are true to ourselves?

  • Roger Ogden
    November 26, 2011, 3:44 pm

    I am involved with Sports on a daily basis. I do Sports Public Address Announcing for many sports. Therefore, the announcer role is my area I feel could be of interest. However, I have been involved in spokesperson and narration in different areas of my background.

  • David George
    February 5, 2013, 8:08 pm

    I tend to get Narrator, Real Person and Character roles…mostly…

  • Jack Parnell
    February 10, 2013, 9:27 am

    I’m whichever of those I need to be for the particular read. Any
    writers out there reading this? When you ask for any of those reads,
    make sure you write it FOR that read! You can’t write a hardsell
    read then ask for a Sam Elliot! Nor can you write 100 words and
    ask for a relaxed easygoing read!

  • Carol Van Natta
    February 11, 2013, 9:23 am

    My diction is excellent and my voice has been called “soothing,” so I usually get instructor or narration gigs. I also have occasional forays into character (not really mentioned above) because I’m a film/TV/theatre actor and pretty good with accents.