How to give your story a voice

by David Ciccarelli, CEO, Voices.com

Voice talents can help you tell stories. But how do you want them to engage your audience? Should the voice you choose be informal, like talking to a friend? Or does the role require more professionalism or authority?

Determining the mood and role in advance will help you get a better performance from the voice actor and make their “read” more believable. To get started, think about the five most common voice-over roles:

The Real Person

The Real Person conveys transparency, trust, and intimacy. Think of how someone communicates when speaking to a family member, friend, or neighbor. There’s an authenticity to this role that oozes genuine relationship.

The Announcer

The Announcer speaks authoritatively and with conviction. In most cases, The Announcer shares information without bias and objectively, with little to no emotion. This role characterizes news anchors, reporters, and commentators.

The Narrator

Because the narrator is omniscient — he was there, and knows how the story ends — he helps draw the audience in and suspend their disbelief. The Narrator, like The Announcer, is emotionally removed from the story, letting the viewers draw their own conclusions about how they feel.

The Spokesperson

Confident and trustworthy, The Spokesperson speaks on behalf of a company, institution, or organization. The Spokesperson seems informed, accessible, and polished. If you’ve ever seen a corporate or celebrity spokesperson act as the representative of a brand, you have an idea for the balancing act they play in terms of advocacy and professionalism.

The Instructor

The Instructor’s perspective is that of an educator, academic, or expert who guides the viewer through a series of steps or layers of information. Many explainer videos are voiced this way. The emphasis is on learning rather than developing a relationship with the viewer.

Defining which role your voice talent will play greatly affects how you plan and script your video. Defining this role early in your planning helps you better identify what you are looking for in a voice talent and provides them with clearer artistic direction. This can make a dramatic difference in your ability to communicate more effectively on behalf of your client.

David Ciccarelli is the co-founder and CEO of Voices.com, an award-winning online marketplace, connecting clients with voice-over talent. More than 200,000 people from companies like ABC, NBC, ESPN, PBS, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, Sony Pictures, Audible, Comcast, Bell Canada, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Western Union, American Airlines, Toyota, Ford, and GM, as well as organizations such as the U.S. Army and the U.S. Government entrust the Voices.com online marketplace with their stories and collaborate online.