Start Hearing Voices! Why Voice-over Talent is Important

Describes the influence of the human voice and the impact of a professional voice-over performance. Advice for media producers and others who hire voice-over talent.

By Vicki Amorose,

Here is something I find puzzling. I often encounter media projects where the voice-over artist is considered as the last element of production. Voice-over is not the icing on the cake, it is not even the candle on the cake. Voice-over is the match no one can find just as everything is ready and the client is awaiting the cake presentation.

'Who has a match? Did somebody bring matches? Who is going to read this script?'

I've been a voice-over talent since the last century, and I admit, I am unusually tuned-in to voices. I carefully listen to every voice-over I come across and weigh its strengths and weaknesses. I am not asking my reader to be as obsessively interested as I am, but I do want to point out how your message will be greatly enhanced by the right voice.

I can't tell you the number of times I've been contacted by a frantic media producer who needs me to voice their project NOW, and preferably yesterday. All the elements- visuals, script, music, message- it's all ready to go just as soon as I record the voice-over. While I am happy to get hired, it feels like voice-over is considered as a minor wrap-up detail, like buying a presentation folder at Staples. How often do producers consider voice-over as merely reading? How often do they think, 'I know this voice-over guy or gal can provide fast turn around', as if expedience were the primary consideration for good voice-over?

Stop and think for a moment about the importance and influence of the human voice. It has been called the most versatile instrument on earth. We all find it easy to detect when someone is upset, excited, or disinterested, just by listening to the inflection and timbre of their voice. We can recognize and identify the subtleties of hundreds of different voices. Even if we have not heard a person's voice for years, their voice can jog our memory as effectively as a picture.

Humans respond to human voices, we do so instinctively and instantly. In fact, we respond to voices before we are born. Similar to music, voices stir feelings. The sound of a voice can raise or lower our blood pressure. Consider the power a voice has to soothe, amuse, irritate, or bore us. Voices convey complex emotions and communicate so much more than mere words.

Forgive the blatant truism of this statement, but the voice is a powerful tool for communicating. So do not overlook the possibilities of voice-over for enhancing your message. Sure, anyone can talk. But can 'anyone' sustain the listener's attention? Doesn't your project require a 'someone', not an 'anyone', to perform voice-over?

Take the time to cast your audio project. Most professional voice talents will audition for you gladly. Plan the time to search for and hire the right voice, the voice that best reaches your audience. From advertising to art and everything in between, voice-over is important.

No more, 'Did somebody bring matches? Who is going to read this script?' Stock up on matches and keep the drawer full!

Copyright 2009