Best Practices: Voice-overs
Updated on September 6, 2018.
When choosing voice-over for your video, it’s important to pick a voice that reflects your brand’s message. For example, if you are trying to excite people about your product, use a narrator that sounds confident, loud (without yelling), higher pitched, and lively. This is especially useful if your product isn’t stereotypically exciting to begin with. You can captivate an audience with a voice that is clearly interested in and excited about what they’re saying. Check out this Blackboard explainer video below and observe how the voice-over matches the company’s intention to engage teachers and convince them how great the product is.
Note that this man has an accent. It works because it’s unexpected and adds a fun twist to the video (for American viewers). However, if a voice-over’s accent is too thick, that can overwhelm and confuse your audience. You don’t want them to think too hard about what someone is saying. As long as the accent is crisp and clear and makes sense in context with the subject of the video, give it a shot!
In contrast, if you’re a company that provides serious services, like a law firm, your message will probably be something more along the lines of “you can trust us” or “we’ve got your back.” Therefore, you want a voice-over to make the viewer feel this way. Give a preview of what your company could provide them.
The approach in this commercial for Tycko & Zavareei Whistleblower ad is completely different from the previous video. The narration is lower pitched, softer, slower, and contains more downward inflections. Her voice is calm, but serious. Reassuring, but still dramatic and interesting to listen to. It matches the serious tone of the video without being boring.
If you have the means, casting an actor or celebrity with a recognizable voice can be very effective. Audiences will want to listen all the way through because they instantly feel a familiarity with and connection to whatever you’re selling. For example, Green Buzz Agency had Jane Lynch narrate their “Love Has No Labels Campaign” video for Ad Council. In this case, what they were selling was a message: love and acceptance should be year-round for everyone; no matter race, sexual orientation, age, etc. Jane Lynch was a great choice not only because of her instantly recognizable voice, but also because she is openly gay and an advocate of the same ideals Ad Council is portraying in these videos. It’s a partnership that makes sense.
Jane Lynch’s narration brings the video up another notch. While not all videos require voice-overs, it can be extremely helpful in establishing the mood and tone of a video, and giving context to what’s happening on-screen without requiring actors. As exemplified above, it makes a video’s message much clearer and more powerful.
Consider using voice-overs in your next video to emphasize your message and help guide your viewers’ emotions.
Alanna Goodman is the marketing and communications intern for Green Buzz Agency. She would love to have Jennifer Lawrence narrate her life.