Whether you have a video, online course, or tv commercial, trying to find the best voice actors for your project can be confusing! Where do you even begin?
First, we can’t stress enough how important it is to choose the right voices. The actors you choose will be the voices of your brand, representing your company and its values to the public.
Studies have shown that the right voices can help companies make true connections and build trust with their audiences. Yet, the wrong voices can alienate or upset audiences, which can have a lasting negative impact on a brand.
People form emotional attachments to voices and make choices (some of them unreasonable) based on treble and voice pitch. In fact, a 2018 study from Florida Atlantic University found that “people with lower-pitched voices are more likely to win elected office because they are believed to be superior leaders with greater physical prowess and integrity.”
So, when people hear a voice over and over, they often connect it to the brand. You certainly don’t want to choose wrong! The good news: If you follow our tips below, we’re confident you’ll be able to choose the best voice actors for any type of project.
1. Determine what tone of voice you need.
Start by jotting down the feelings you want customers to experience when they hear the actor’s voice. For example, if you’re in the healthcare industry, empathy and warmth may be the feelings you want to associate with your brand. If you sell automobiles, friendliness and confidence may be the best choices. Choose voices that convey these feelings well.
We highly recommend that you check out Master Class: Nancy Cartwright Teaches Voice Acting. Cartwright is a voice talent best known for her role as Bart Simpson on The Simpsons. While her class is oriented to someone looking to start a career as a voice actor, it helps those not in the industry realize how every actor has a unique voice.
Cartwright talks about vocal identity and how it should correspond with the identity of your project. In our opinion, this is especially important when you’re trying to reach audiences across the globe. She also discusses how to create a distinct character and shares some tips for a successful recording. It’s a great look into the world of voice artistry.
2. Test your demographic.
While you may think you found the best voice actors, your demographic may disagree. If the voices don’t resonate with your audience, your project may not be a success.
In our previous blog How To Hire a Voice Actor (Even a Foreign Language One!), we discussed why it’s so important to know your target audience. Knowing your audience helps you decide who will be representing you and how you’ll sound in a different language.
You can use a focus group to determine what type of voice appeals to your demographic. For example, if your product’s target market is males 30 – 50 years old, you should have males in that age group listen to your selection of actors. If your project is smaller, you can have a focus group with about 3-5 people. However, if you’re working on a project that requires a nationwide campaign, you may want to have a larger group.
3. Consider the age of your audience.
Yes, age matters when it comes to your audience. For example, if you’re creating a video for a younger audience, you’ll probably want to use more energetic voices. But if your audience is older, you may want the voices to sound calmer and more passive.
4. Don’t forget about pitch.
Did you know there’s a common condition called presbycusis which makes it difficult for older people to hear higher-pitched voices? Take this into consideration if you have a senior audience. With projects like these, you may want to hire a voice actor with a deeper pitch.
5. Ask for work samples.
The best voice over artists will be able to provide you with samples of their previous work on a variety of projects. Pay attention to the types of projects they have worked on. Does any of their work target the same demographics as your project? If so, they may be a good fit.
6. Contact a voice over agency, especially if you need foreign language voice actors.
Let’s face it – no one knows better than the experts. A voice over agency will have a large pool of professional and reliable voice actors to choose from. The regular practice is that the voice over agency recommends the best voice actors for your project and can also hold auditions to find the perfect match. This is crucial when you’re working on foreign language projects. The last thing you want is to choose the wrong talent because you didn’t understand the nuances of a foreign country.
Here at Metro Audio and Video, we’ll ask clients looking for foreign language voice over actors to provide us with a translation of their project as well as a “source video” to determine exactly what kind of voice is required. A source video is the original video in English. We also ask our clients what region the project will be used in. We can help to localize any project, meaning the original translation will be adapted to the specific targeted region.
For example, a client may be searching for a voice actor who speaks Chinese. In that case, we’ll ask which region this recording will be used in. If the target is Mainland China, they will need the actor to speak Mandarin (also known as Simplified Chinese). Simplified Chinese is spoken throughout Mainland China. If the target audience is in Taiwan, we would use a voice talent who speaks Traditional Mandarin and for the Hong Kong region we would use a Cantonese speaking talent. As you can see, there is a difference between the Mandarin language in these regions (which we’ll discuss in an upcoming blog).
An example of Simplified Chinese for Mainland China.
7. Hold a casting call.
It’s a great idea to hold auditions. It gives you an opportunity to listen to your choices. As mentioned above, if you work with a voice over agency they can help select actors for the casting call.
Of course, it’s natural to be concerned about casting calls during the pandemic. Covid-19 has certainly changed the way we work. Here at Metro Audio and Video, we follow all CDC protocols and guidelines. We make sure our studios are always sanitized.
We currently only allow voice actors, engineers and language directors in our studios. We’ve found that using Zoom and other similar options has worked well to allow clients to listen in. We’ve also installed cameras, so anyone directing the sessions can feel like they are there in person.
8. Think long-term
Lastly, if you plan to build your brand using voice actors, make sure they will be available for future, ongoing projects. You wouldn’t want to build trust between your company’s voice and your audience, only to lose the voice.
What questions do you have for us about finding the best voice actors? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help with any part of your voice over project, whether it’s in English or a foreign language.
In our next blog we’ll delve deeper into the differences in languages such as Mandarin. Make sure you follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn or sign up for our newsletter. That way, you’ll be the first to hear when it’s posted!
– The Metro AV Team