Behind the Scenes with a Video Producer: Selecting a Voice Talent
By Theresa Brooks
So you’ve finally convinced your boss to produce a video for your company. Yes! Now’s the time to start building that Pinterest board of styles you like, write out talking points, and scope out video production companies.
However, have you ever thought about the voice over? Most people don’t until they reached that point in the process. Well, lucky for you, I’m going to take you behind the scenes and share my tips, tricks, and advice from years in the business.
Selecting the Voice Over
The first thing that will determine the voice you’re looking for is the type of video you’re making. As for Educational videos or Tutorials, select someone with an engaging voice who can fluently talk about the terminology (if it’s tricky topics). For explainer videos or commercials, find a talent that matches the brand voice and speaks to the target audience.
Secondly, know what to ask for. Be upfront with your video production company and voice talent. This allows for less revisions (or less retakes) later in the process. The more time someone has to spend in the recording studio, the more costly the video project becomes.
If you want to call into a recording session, let your video production company (and/or your voice talent) know right away, so they make accommodations to have this available to you, if possible.
If you’re coordinating the voice talent directly, let them know how many takes you’d like and if you’ll need the option for pickups. Pickups will give you the chance to get a few lines recorded again in case tone or pronunciation aren’t quite right for you.
Also, be sure to tell the talent how the video will be used. Not only does it change the usage agreements, but it may change the cost.
For more information, check out Selecting the Right Voice Over for Your Video
How Voice Overs Influence Brand Voice
When you think of companies like Priceline or All State, whose voice comes to mind? What about your favorite NPR podcast? While you may not know the name of the person who lent his or her voice to these productions, you may be able to describe their vocal qualities, or even hear their voices in your head as you think about them. Some voices are tightly tied to the brand and without them, some of the brand’s identity would be lost. That’s the impact that voice overs have with brand voice.
With that in mind, it’s odd to see that companies are very diligent about creating brand guidelines for graphics, copy, and photography, but rarely write them for voice. If your company lacks this resource and you’re at a loss for which voice to look for or hire for your project, it can be helpful to refer to what your brand guidelines say about tone. This is because the tone you apply to copy, can also be applied to voice overs.
Another tip is to think about your target audience and what type of voice will resonate with them. We, as viewers or listeners, like to hear voices similar to our own demographic. It helps us to place ourselves in the same situation as the character or narrator, and to figure out if the product or service is the solution for ‘our’ current problem.
Providing Feedback on the Voice-Over
The most important thing I can recommend is to not get too deep in the weeds when providing feedback. When I find that I’m doing just that, I ask myself two questions:
1) In thinking about the overall mission of the project, does the voice fit?
If your reaction is to say, “No,” then you’ll need to think what about it isn’t working. Is the script not hitting the right talking points? Is the voice the wrong demographic? Pinpointing what’s off before you send feedback is key to a successful relationship with your video producer and/or voice talent.
If it’s, “Yes!” Then no need to provide feedback other than your thumbs up approval.
2) Are the pronunciations correct?
Let’s just say that if your company’s name isn’t pronounced correctly, your CEO won’t be very happy. Video, regardless of what the goal is, always contributes to brand awareness. If it’s the first time a viewer comes into contact with your company, you want them to know how to say it! So be sure to include direction that helps walk the voice actor through tricky pronunciations. Don’t assume that everyone is familiar with the language that is specific to your company or industry.
Also, this may seem like common sense, but If you do have feedback, be sure to call out the exact timestamp and what you’d like to hear. It’s better to be specific and provide examples when possible. Simply saying, “I’d like this to sound more hip and edgy,” isn’t going to help as much as, “Here’s an example of something I’ve heard. I like that it sounds like this guy is approachable, friendly, and trustworthy. I’d invite him over to watch the game.”
A Little Feedback Goes a Long Way
Of course that is only a few parts of the voice over process, but it’s enough to steer you in the right direction. Once you feel comfortable providing only necessary feedback, your video producer will take the lead on making sure the video hits your goals while also showcasing your brand.
If you have a voice over selection story, I would love to hear it!
About the Author: Theresa Brooks
Theresa Brooks is a producer for Demo Duck, a Chicago-based video production company. She answers to ‘Tree’ when called, and refuses to use the cowardly oven mitt when making cupcakes.
Learn more about how to contact Demo Duck, including where to follow them on social media.