Describing The Sound You’re Looking For


When you are casting for a role, keep in mind that there are a variety of roles that voice talent play. The core roles you’ll encounter include:

  • Real Person
  • Announcer
  • Narrator
  • Instructor
  • Spokesperson


"What about character roles", you might ask? The roles above are more in line with who the voice talent is in relation to the audience.

So far as our list above goes, ask yourself what the main goal of your voice artist is. Are they the trusted friend who is referring a brand of diapers to a new mom? If so, you’ve got a candidate for the Real Person role on your hands.

Is the voice artist narrating an audiobook, weaving a tale of adventure and intrigue? When you need a storyteller who breathes life into a book, it’s the Narrator you want to be working with.

Will the talent be sharing important information on the airwaves or announcing the winner of an Academy Award? All signs point to the Announcer in this case.

Is the opportunity an educational one? Perhaps voicing modules in an eLearning series? Invite the Instructor to guide your listeners through the presentation or slideshow.

Maybe you’ve got a commercial or testimonial-style infomercial where an endorsement is being given. Now’s the time to call up the Spokesperson role in your casting specs.

We’ll go into more detail about each role later on in this guide. Keep reading for more information.



The style that someone reads your script in can reflect a manner of speaking or an attitude. Style falls under creative direction. Picking the right style for your read will influence how the talent interprets the script and directly affect how the copy is received into the ears, minds and hearts of your target audience.

Giving talent a couple style suggestions will inform their read in general while providing a more granular framework from which to voice. Tone of voice, motivation and other artistic choices stem from an actor’s role and creative direction for voicing. Let’s explore roles more closely.


Performing in a Certain Style

Once you know what role you want the talent to play, it’s time to have some fun! You get to direct the talent in how the words they speak should come across. The style or way that someone reads a script will depend upon the artistic direction that you provide. When thinking about style, consider the many different ways that you have heard voice actors read from a script.

Knowing what the role is is one thing, but how the words are delivered is another layer of artistry. We’re talking tone of voice (attitude), timing, and the emotion or motivation behind what is being said. A voice actor could give you a friendly read, a soothing read or even an antagonistic read. Style comes down to how the voice talent presents your copy. In radio, styles you might choose to have include a hard sell or a soft sell. Adjectives are helpful when it comes to describing how you want the read to come across. Understanding who the character is and also how you want the voice artist to convey your message to your target audience will help to determine what style or shape you want their read to embody.



There are many reasons why accents are important. An accent may be required from a technical standpoint to better reach the audience in question, or, an accent could be used to differentiate one character from another in an audiobook where the same narrator is voicing all the roles. An accent is one of those things that you might not even think about, because hey, who thinks that they themselves have an accent? You only know that you have an accent because you are aware of other accents out in the world and have something to compare yours to.

When indicating what accent you want to audition talent for, you always need to associate that accent first with the language that is being spoken. You can have a Spanish-accented English speaker or someone who speaks French with an American accent. Over the years, we have come across many different and sometimes unusual combinations of accent and language depending on what a client has requested.

Something to be aware of is a neutral accent in any language. What this means is that the accent is not representative of a region but speaks more to a national accent that most people in the country can relate to. For people in the United States, that accent is often referred to as the Midwestern accent. People from the Midwest have a more standardized version of the American accent or sound because this region lacks distinct regionalisms found in other parts of the county like the Southern accent or that of someone living in the Bronx in New York City.


Time Periods

The setting of your story so far as time is another component that may determine how your characters speak. People who lived in a different time period use language that is unique to their culture or civilization. Just think of how language has evolved from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Dickens to Lewis. Knowing what time period you’re in also helps you to define what you will use props wise or the kind of sound effects you might require. Think of old time radio, going way back to the 1920s. There is a certain style and image associated with that time right smack in the middle of the Golden Age of Radio. The same goes for other time periods so be sure to identify which era your production takes place in if and when appropriate.