When it comes to voice over, a dash of humor can go a long way. However, it’s important to understand that being funny and trying to sound funny are two different things (note: If you try to sound funny, you’re going to miss the mark altogether). So, if you’re wondering how to add humor into your voice over in order to form a connection with the audience and enhance the effectiveness of your performance – this post is for you.
Why Humor is an Effective Storytelling and Advertising Tool
It is often said that laughter is infectious. There is something about humor that has the power to put minds at ease. Some studies even indicate humor has a vital role to play in our general well being and health. But, of course, making ‘healthy, wholesome videos’ is not (always) on a marketer’s checklist.
Fortunately, humor does have an impact on brand loyalty, market awareness and engagement too.
Check this out:
- A Pew research study indicated that the most-watched YouTube content, for at least 58% of users, is humor or comedy.
- A marketing survey from Chegg says that 80% of the college-age kids remember ads that make them laugh.
Not surprising, right?
Humor doesn’t just work for the teenage audience. Dropbox’s explainer video, which incorporates just a dash of humor, drove 10% conversion leading to 10 million extra customers that yielded an ROI of $48,000,000 in extra revenue.
Tip: Check out this roundup of other amazing explainer videos, complete with case study information.
What’s more, Nielsen gave Doritos (the brand behind some absurdly funny commercials) the top position for the most memorable Super Bowl advertisements.
Another Super Bowl commercial, which plays on the concept of Amazon’s Alexa losing her voice, brilliantly explores the role of voice over in infusing humor. However, getting people to laugh or even drawing a slight chuckle is not an easy task. After all, a joke is only as funny as the person who tells it.
Delivering the marketing message across to your audience becomes all the more complex when you are trying to add humor in the gig.
With that premise, let’s see how your voice over can go from good to great with a slight sprinkling of humor.
Humorous Voice Over Starts with the Script
The script is the foundation. If it ain’t funny, how can you expect the voice over artist to make it sound funny?
The script has to give a context to justify the humor. However, once the words are on the page, the vocal direction embarked upon by the voice actor is key.
For voice over artists, merely intonating at the right places or adding that funny tone in your voice will not do the job. A voice artist needs to develop a deep connection with the script and the target audience. In industry parlance it is often called ‘making the script your own.’ This will come with time and experience. As you hone your craft, the importance of making the listeners laugh along with you will come through. Understanding your audience is the most important aspect of delivering that amazing VO.
Subtlety is Key to Being Funny
When adding humor to your voice overs, it is important not to go overboard. Some voice artists are fortunate enough to have an innate sense of timing. Some people develop it after years of practice. Whatever the case may be, it is always best to be subtle when it comes to adding humor to your VO.
Check out this explainer video for Mega Car Collection. The voice artist delivers the message with a humorous punch while keeping the tone subtle. Something that the audience would connect with, in an instant. That’s how being subtle can get you far.
Develop your own humorous voice over style by keeping these things in mind:
- Know what makes the target audience laugh: Once you have an understanding of the target audience, think what will tickle their bones. Work with the video production team and the scriptwriter to polish the narration for that funny tinge.
- Don’t shy away from experimenting: Many voice artists develop a certain style of delivery and stick to it. This might work for some projects, but not all. To stay fresh and relevant in your trade, keep experimenting.
- Don’t just do cold narrations: Visualize and use clever pauses, witty puns and modulation to make the difference.
- Add your personality: Use your flair to add a touch of personality to your work. This skill will get better as you gain experience. With a unique style, your voice will soon become sought after.
As a voice artist, you need to know where to draw the line. With humor, this becomes all the more important. You do not want to sound amateurish and come across as trying too hard.
With years of experience behind the mic, you will be able to make out the difference between free-flowing humor and something that is artificial. So keep it simple and humor will follow.
Styles of Humor
To hone your craft and make it stand out, it is important to be a good student. Study how humor works for you. Use techniques like exaggeration, pun or wordplay to make your piece memorable.
Telling a joke to yourself is also a great way to loosen up before the recording session. Yes, this may sound funny but it is a technique used by many voice artists. A good laugh will help you relax your muscles before you get inside that recording booth. A natural sounding voice will help you crack the recording in fewer takes.
With as many as nine different types of humor, it will be important to observe each style. Every client will require something different, with a sense of these styles you can easily adapt and make your voice do wonders.
Some Styles of Humor Include:
- Improv: Thinking on your feet is the name of the game. Adding humor on the go can get tricky so tread cautiously and with practice you can master improv.
- Dark: A popular yet difficult humor style. It plays on sad or bleak events by adding a funny spin to it.
- Wordplay: A much-loved way to make people laugh. This witty humor style revolves around similar sounding words that when used correctly will make anyone giggle.
These styles are by no means the only kinds of humor that exist. As a VO artist you can choose not to follow any style, or have a mix of many. The choice will be yours and so will be the unique style you develop.
Voice over artists the world over rely on humor to add an edge to their work.
Humor is not only about jokes or funny sounds. It is also about how you use your voice to add another dimension to the recording.
A good inflection choice or a well-timed pause can make all the difference in your delivery, which in turn will make you a great voice over artist with an impeccable sense of humor.
So get behind that mic and let your smile be heard in your voice!
About the Author
Deepasha Kakkar is a visual marketer, founder of Crackitt, and a consumer behavior aficionado. She helps businesses and organizations hone their identities, craft their brands, and share their truths using beautiful handmade animated videos and compelling infographics. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.