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October 21, 2019

What to Look For in a Voice Over Actor | Video Production Tips

Choosing the voice of your next marketing video is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your voice over actor sets the tone and tempo for your video marketing strategy and story, playing a crucial role in persuasive advertising by adding or subtracting credibility and likability with just a few words uttered. So what’s the secret to settling on the perfect messenger? Before you hire voice over (VO) talent, tackle the following questions to make sure you’re on the right track.

Is the voice on-brand?

First, think about the things that really define your brand. Do you want audiences to see you as practical, high-tech, humorous, youthful, innovative or clever? Make sure that the VO artists you’re considering will align nicely with your brand personality. For example, a hip startup surf brand might want to lean towards a younger and more energetic voice, while an established financial investment firm might be looking for an older, more experienced voice for their brand.

Is the voice tailored to your target locale?

Think about the markets where your video’s target audience reside. Are there specific accents or dialects for the region that you plan to use in your video? For instance, you may want very different sounding actors for, say, a video that will be showcased in Boston, Massachusetts, versus one that is bound for audiences in Hawaii or the Midwest. Actors should include their accent range in their resumés, but be sure to test them out at audition time, too.

Should you go with a male or female actor?

There is no right answer when it comes to male vs. female voice over effectiveness, but you should again review who your target market is and what content the video’s graphics and script will include. Are there any details that can help you determine whether a male or female VO might be more persuasive? For example, if your video is geared toward teachers and the majority of educators in your target locale are female, a female voice may have greater influence. If it’s still unclear, think about casting both options and have them read to see which one fits your message best.

Do you have a sufficient voice over budget?

Your project budget may limit who you reach out for voice over roles. Some entry-level VO artists will do 30-second spots for a few hundred dollars, whereas experienced actors may charge several thousand dollars, including royalties. Think about your budget before casting and only engage with VO actors you can afford. Be sure to ask your recording studio if they charge re-recording fees so you can see if they still fit within your budget.

Did you properly audition your top choices?

When doing casting sessions, make sure to have the artist read YOUR script to hear if they can successfully capture the essence of what you are looking for. If your script isn’t finalized yet, try to have a version ready that’s as close to being finished as possible.

Did you give your VO artists direction during the audition?

Even if an actor seems flawless in their audition, give them direction on different types of reads just to see how well they can adjust. It is really hard to teach people to take direction well when it comes to acting and VO acting, so you want to make sure you test their versatility before hiring—especially since script changes often occur at the last minute.

Did you cross-check your favorites for availability?

Imagine spending hours listening to audio clips of VO actors only to find out your top choice just happens to be busy during the time slot you need them. Check to make sure the actors are actually available before making your selection—not only so they can show up during the set recording time, but also so they are free to come in for any possible re-recordings based on changes that will inevitably happen.

Did you listen to your gut?

Some VO actors might look good on paper but just don’t sound like your brand when it comes time to record. After going through all the steps listed above to pick the right VO artist for the job, ask yourself if you feel in your gut that this person is a good fit, and then get the input of your team. If your team believes that you’ve made the right choice and you are confident about the actor, too, it’s time to hire.

Best of luck as you head out to create your next great video production featuring a dynamic voice over artist who will leave a lasting impression and help get your message across!

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