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  • Writer's pictureDuncan Curtis - Director

USING VOICEOVERS IN YOUR VIDEOS



A well-considered and professionally crafted voiceover can be a very effective method of sharing your important message and help your business to stand out. However, there are some essential considerations to ensure you end up with the best narrative in your videos. 


Below are a few pointers to guide you through the voiceover process.


VO v No VO


The first thing to consider is whether your video needs a voiceover at all. Some videos work better by using music and on-screen text alone. This is particularly true for videos designed to be shown in noisy locations, e.g. exhibition halls and trade stands, where the ambient hubbub may be too loud to hear a voiceover clearly.


Similarly, many videos benefit more from interviews with qualified employees, directors, experts or stakeholders. It is important to show those interviewees on-screen in such videos, however, for viewers to be able relate the information to the experts. 

Some, longer form videos may include both voiceover and interviews. In this case, the voiceover should be designed to set up the interview or expand on points given by interviewees. Care should be taken here not to repeat information given in either form. Repetition of interview and voiceover information can make a video appear lazy or poorly planned.


Voiceovers work best as passionate attention grabbers over eye-catching image or graphics sequences, as they often deliver more emotion, tone and ‘colour’ than interview responses alone.



SCRIPT


The key point to remember when preparing a script is the difference between the written and spoken word. Paragraphs from printed material or Powerpoint presentations will rarely work as voiceover scripts for several reasons:


  • They may contain words or sentence structures rarely used in everyday speech.

  • Jargon or abbreviations used in company literature may sound odd when spoken.

  • Speech is generally simpler and uses more contractions – i.e. “couldn’t” instead of “could not,” “there’s” rather than “there is,” etc. (The exception being when you need to emphasise a word or message – “we will succeed.”)

  • Often, bullet points or short forms are used, which can’t be easily spoken.


In general, simple and succinct is best, ensuring every word supports your message. Videos designed to be shown at conferences will often need to stick to strict lengths, and scripts will need to be written to fit those timings, while allowing time for the video to ‘breathe’ between sentences – i.e. if the video needs to be one minute long to fit the conference schedule, the script may only be thirty to forty seconds of that time. For other videos, such as company informational films, where timing isn’t so critical, the information the business needs to share in the script will dictate the length of the video. Consider the purpose of your video and where it will be shown.


Scripting is a collaborative exercise. If possible, work with a professional scriptwriter as they have the best knowledge of how to take your business information and distill it into the most efficient, effective, video-friendly script.



ALWAYS USE A PROFESSIONAL VOICEOVER ARTIST


I cannot overstate the importance of this point. Working with a professional voiceover artist ensures consistent quality and delivery throughout your video. These professionals understand how to modulate their tone, pace, and inflection to match the mood and purpose of your content. Additionally, they can take direction well, making adjustments to meet your specific requirements and preferences.


Don’t be tempted to use a work colleague in place of a professional voiceover artist, as they won’t have the training to deliver the tone, emotion or inflection required for individual video projects. If you would prefer the information to come from a knowledgeable colleague, consider filming them in an interview setup instead.



OPTIONS


There are many points to consider when choosing a voiceover artist, all of which are linked to the message and purpose of your video:


  • Gender – would your message have more impact delivered by a male or female voice? Consider your subject and audience carefully when deciding.

  • Age/Audience – I have put these together as they are very much connected. Is your audience of school age, mid-twenties, managers, shop floor workers, retired people? It is best to match the age of the voiceover artist to your target audience to make them more relatable.

  • Purpose – is your video happy and comedy based aimed at children? Is it an emotional plea from a charity or thank you from patients? Is it a celebration of your company’s history? In the style of a movie trailer? Perhaps it’s an inspirational video designed to drive teams to a successful future. Consider the most appropriate voiceover tones for each scenario.

  • Accents/Speech patterns – Would you prefer your information to be delivered in Home Counties English, or would a regional accent be more appropriate? If the video is more global facing, perhaps an accent from an associated country would be best. If the intended audience is late teens or early twenties, would a voiceover employing more youth relatable speech patterns be more suitable?

  • Famous voices – Occasionally, clients will request well-known actors or presenters to voice their videos. This, as you would expect, is normally the most expensive option and, therefore, usually confined to larger companies and bigger videos with higher budgets. If this is the preferred route, you may need to go through a specific agent. It is also worth mentioning that well-known personalities are more likely to accept or refuse projects for several reasons, including subject, end use, contractual obligations, other work commitments and budget restrictions. If they are linked to particular broadcasters, those employers may also have a say as to which projects their presenters can and can’t be involved with.


All professional voiceover artists have showreels (often several pitched for different uses). Once you have given your preferred options from the list above to a production company, ask them to send a few showreel options for you to consider. A good production company will whittle down the choices to a handful they consider the most appropriate, but the final choice will normally be down to the client.



COST


Voiceover costs vary hugely depending on several factors, including:


  • Script length

  • Recording session time required

  • Artist (age, experience, demand, etc.)

  • Agency

  • Fame


The most efficient way to source voiceover artists is through a voiceover agency. Individual artists can be found online, who may offer a less expensive option, but this tends to restrict what producers can offer to clients in terms of variety and choice. Most voiceover artists, however, will be linked to agencies as this offers them a greater chance of employment and variety of work. Agency artist costs will still vary a great deal, however, so it’s important to consider the cost of individual artists when making your choice.


The price you pay an agency includes, not only the artist’s fee, but also studio costs, including facilities and sound engineers to ensure that you receive the best quality and most professional recording.


...AND FINALLY...


NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR MESSAGE


Those who have read our previous blogs will know this mantra well. Your message is THE most important part of any video. This is why it is so important to work with scriptwriters and production companies. As clients will need guidance from the writer on words that work best on screen, the writer will also need guidance from you as the client on the essential elements, technical words and phrasing that must be included in your message.


Make sure that you allow time in the production process for scripting. It may take several rewrites before a version is delivered that you are happy with. Only sign off that script when you are 100% happy with the information it contains, as rerecording sessions to fix any script mistakes could be costly.

 

In our next blog, we will explain what happens during the actual voiceover recording, together with points to consider from a client perspective to ensure the record process and subsequent edit goes smoothly.

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