Producing a project that connects with your audience, whether it’s a radio spot designed to sell sports cars or an audiobook that tells a compelling story, will always involve creating a character voice.
A character voice is a distinct personality as expressed through unique vocal qualities. By investing your creativity into describing each voice that will contribute to your script, you’re ensuring that you’re presenting your listeners with a compelling character that they will want to listen to.
The process of creating an effective character voice involves:
- Understanding your audience, and the vocal qualities that will create an emotional connection
- Having a grasp on the five main character voice roles
- Identifying other specific vocal roles and styles that will bring your character to life
Let’s explore each aspect, so you can create a voice that will set your project up for success.
Creating Emotional Connection Through the Right Character Voice
Character voices tend to be heavily influenced by the target audience you are striving to reach. Audience demographics have an impact upon the roles you write, the way you articulate the type of vocal delivery that you are seeking, and how you parse through auditions for the perfect actor to hire for the job.
Ultimately, voice over is a tool to help you achieve an emotional reaction, and what resonates with different groups of people varies.
For instance, a senior character voice is more likely to resonate if your product or service is attempting to build trust and earn business from seniors. However, research has shown that young children respond better to teenage voices in advertising, since children find them to be cooler, aspirational figures. By the same token, a product intended for seniors may be marketed towards their middle-aged children, if they happen to be the target audience most likely to purchase that product for their parents.
Understanding Character Voice Roles
Once you’ve determined the right vocal qualities that will strike an emotional chord, now you can determine what role to cast your character in. There are a variety of common character roles for voice talent, including:
- The real person
- The narrator
- The announcer
- The spokesperson
- The instructor
The 5 Archetypal Characters Portrayed by Voice Actors
The Real Person
While hard sells and commanding vocal deliveries were once a dominant advertising technique, today’s consumers no longer want to be sold: they want to be told. Industry research has shown that a listener would rather have an accessible vocal personality engage in conversation with them than to be pitched from a pedestal. In the advertising sphere, this has caused the Real Person vocal archetype to rise to the fore.
When you write a script that is intended to be performed by a Real Person, their lines should sound like dialogue you might hear from a close friend or a family member. This character voice isn’t preoccupied with pushing a sale. They’re trying to connect to the audience on a deeper, more personable level.
The volume of voice over work conceived specifically for the Real Person role has been on the upswing and continues to be widely sought after. It simultaneously satisfies the consumer need for authenticity and trust, as well as the marketer’s desire to dispatch a message that connects emotionally with the target audience and increasing brand recall.
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The narrator assumes the role of the outside observer. Narrators tell a story and provide commentary about what is occurring in the narrative. In this sense, the narrator isn’t generally meddling with the characters or content of a piece, but rather providing insight about what they’re observing as the action unfolds.
The narrator’s read should have its own spirit and character voice, but should be lacking in bias.
The narrator has an omniscient view of the events of the story, and thus is incapable of being surprised by the sequence of events. This is because the narrator knows the outcome of the story, be it fact or fiction, allowing them to deliver the script read with conviction and verve.
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You’re bound to find the announcer at live events such as awards shows and sporting events, or on television and broadcast radio. The announcer’s reads are inherently measured, confident, and attention-grabbing. The announcer shares information with their audience in a booming, captivating manner. It’s not difficult to find a way to inject fun into an announcer vocal performance, whether you’re looking to emulate the sound of old time radio or an engrossing game show.
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When your brand is in need of a distinct voice, and you’re doing the rounds in search of the perfect audio ambassador to communicate your company’s values, look no further than the spokesperson. Writing the spokesperson character voice into your script will ensure you deliver your brand’s message with authority, eloquence, and purpose. This will come in handy when executing reads for commercial projects, testimonials, and even internal messages delivered straight from the desk of the CEO.
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The instructor has the capacity to communicate your script in a thorough fashion, guiding the listener through a course or module in the same vein that an instructor would in a classroom or lecture setting. The primary goal of this style of read is to impart knowledge, ensure information retention, and encourage the listener in their studies. You may opt to employ the instructor role for e-Learning projects, corporate training initiatives, or explainer videos. The delivery of an instructor voice aims to be didactic and engaging, fostering an environment where learning and listener retention takes the forefront.
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How to Hire Voice Actors for Each Character Type
You can search and listen to talent based on role or style. When you’re posting a job and planning to hire talent, you can select from a pre-populated list of roles and styles, so voice talent will know which angle to approach the read from in order to best make your desired character voice come to life.
The key to creating an effective character voice is to have a thorough understanding of the different vocal roles and styles available, and to weave them into a great character voice description. When you create a well-formed character voice description, it helps voice actors understand your vision, so they can imbue your project with personality and connect with your audience.
Voices helps you create your character voice by allowing you to search based on a multitude of vocal qualities, including by role and style.
The Voice Actors Roles page lists the quintessential vocal roles that are most commonly employed in voice over jobs. There are a number of ways of interpreting each role.
The Voice Actors Style page lists the primary ways an actor can choose to deliver their performance. Any vocal performance can be read in a variety of styles, no matter the role, language, or voice over category.