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5 Pro Tips for Hiring the Right Voice Over Talent

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Pro Tips for Hiring the Right Voice Over Talent
Whether you’re producing an explainer video for your landing page or a technical how to video for your product, a professional voice artist is the icing on the cake, and hiring just the right voice is essential for getting your message across.

In fact, according to a 2012 study shared by the Wall Street Journal, the sound of a speaker’s voice is actually twice as important as the message content itself!

Whatever you’re using a voice over for, be it video or just audio, getting the perfect voice is super important. With audio the voice is obviously the main focus, but even with video which will have live action or animation as well as background music, it’s the voice that ties everything together to make sure your message is received in the way you intended it to.

With that in mind, here are five pro tips for hiring the right voice over talent for your business.

#1: Consider your brand

You need a voice that will resonate with your audience and portray the right image, so consider your target audience–what type of voice will they relate to? What qualities should the voice of your business have?

Should it be authoritative or friendly? Young and hip, or mature and wise?

Should it be male or female?

And what adjectives would you use to describe the voice you’re looking for? Examples might include hard-sell or high-energy to build excitement and urgency for a “buy it now” call to action, a conversational or guy/girl next door to make your brand seem approachable and your products something that everyone can benefit from, or a calm or caring voice to engender trust and suggest you’re there to help (hospitals use this type of voice over a lot).

What about the accent? Will that make a difference? Do you want a generic voice with no discernible accent, or would a specific area accent work best for your brand? As an example, if your business is a chain of Texas BBQ restaurants, you probably don’t want a voice over with a French accent!

The list of questions goes on.

Don’t forget though, that a professional voice over talent will be able to modify their voice and speak in different styles, accents and even ages. For example, I’m from Maryland, but earlier this year I worked on a client’s project where I had to do a west coast accent!

You need to know what you want when looking for the right voice over talent, but also keep an open mind and remember that the best voice artists can match different types of needs.

#2: What medium is it for?

You’ll probably be looking at hiring voice over talent for explainer videos, longer sales videos, on hold messaging, training videos, radio commercials, and so much more! Depending on what medium it is, it’s likely to have different aims, so think about what type of voice would work best for each one.

Think about the difference between, say, a movie trailer and an animated explainer video, or between a relaxation guide and a radio commercial for a used car dealership. The artist you hire for a video game voice over, for example, would need great acting skills, but not so much for a conversational podcast.

When I did a voice over for a video game character recently, part of my job was to convince the audience I was a drill sergeant, but when I worked on some on hold messaging for an amusement park, my voice had to come across as friendly yet neutral–after all, nobody really likes being put on hold!

While professional voice over artists are usually skilled in a number of different aspects of the craft, not all artists will be accomplished in all mediums, so always ask for samples of the specific type of work you’re hiring for.

#3: Spend time searching

Find the Right Voice Over Talent

Don’t just pick the first name you see on Google.

Personal recommendations are ideal, so ask friends and colleagues if they’ve used voice over talent themselves. If you can’t get personal recommendations, the testimonials you find on artist’s website is the next best thing!

You can go also through agencies, remembering that you’ll be paying a premium for agency fees, or an online marketplace where all contact goes through the website.

But the best way to hire voice talent is to go directly to them, so you’re not paying fees on top of their rates and you’re able to communicate directly with the artist.

Using a search engine is always a great method of finding service providers, and while you can just search in your local area, many professional artists have their own well-equipped studios, so you’ll find you can successfully work with people from all over the country, or even go global.  In fact, only about 1% of the work I do is local! The clients I work with come from all around the country, and the world, with some even listening in to recording sessions using Skype or Source Connect Now to be able to direct me.

#4: Listen to samples

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a shortlist of potential voice over talent, listen to as many of their demos as you can to get a proper idea of their full range.

Like I mentioned earlier, you’ll probably find that they’re able to perform in a number of different styles, accents and even ages–so just because you don’t see (or rather, hear!) what you’re looking for straight away, don’t be afraid to ask whether they’re skilled in exactly what you need.

Many artists will even provide a custom audition of your script for free, to really give you an idea as to how they’ll sound working on your project.

#5: Make sure you connect

As with any working relationship, if you find communication difficult with a potential voice artist, then they’re probably not the right fit for you because as with any client/vendor relationship, you have to feel comfortable working with someone.

Entrepreneur.com shared this great article with valuable tips for developing strong working relationships, whichever side of the fence you sit on. I recommend reading it to learn how to pick contractors where you have the best chance to have a good working relationship.

Over to You

Do you have any experience with hiring voice over talent? Leave a comment to tell us more about your experience and what recommendations you’d give for finding the ideal voice over talent for a video project.

About the Author

Jason-McCoyJason McCoy is a male voice over talent and founder of McCoy Productions. With over 15 years of voice over experience, his voice has been heard on projects for businesses large and small, including Intel, American Express, Walmart and many more. He specializes in radio and tv commercials, e-Learning and explainer videos.

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