A voice narrator brings life to your project. Whatever voice you choose sets the tone, the mood, the feel of the project; therefore it can set the success.
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This post has been updated in August 2021.
What Does a Voice Narrator Do and the Impact It Can Have on Your Project
A voice narrator is the life of your audio or video piece. We often tend to think of voice narration linked to audiobooks, and that’s right, but there are so many more ways voice narration works. Think about a documentary. As you watch the history unfold or take a trip down the Amazon River, a voice narrator is the one who is your guide. What about an educational or corporate video? There’s narration there, too, and the right voice can engage and motivate the listeners, bringing them into the video with excitement and motivation.
As the narration brings the piece alive, the listeners and audience can immerse themselves into the piece. The voice narrator takes them where they need to go. For instance, e-learning is a fast growing field. ELearningIndustry recognizes this and notes a few important ways the voice can impact the students. From engaging the learners to boosting their knowledge retention, a voice narration can deliver content essential to learning in a successful manner.
Think about a tour you’ve been on and the difference a good tour guide can make. There may be two different tour guides delivering the same information, but one captivates his group while the other bores his. This can be the same with a voice narrator. The voice is what will keep your audience listening and even coming back for more. It’s what makes information stick and what holds interest. Voice narration can essentially be the success or failure of your project that you’ve invested so much in. So the bottom line is – use the right voice narrator.
What Makes a Good Voice Narrator?
There’s a lot of talk about hiring the right voice narrator, and that can be specific to your project, but what makes a good voice narrator overall? For a narrator to be the right one, he or she first has to be good. Some skills will vary depending on the project or specialty. For instance, back to the e-learning narrator, some of those skills will differ from those of an audiobook narrator. The e-learning narrator will need to stop and take a pause for silence so the learners can absorb the information. In this situation, the voice is not the star of the show, the material is. On the other hand, in an audiobook, the narrator may need to be well versed at accents and dialects and keep the story moving. Here, the voice is more at the forefront of the work.
However, there are skills that all good voice narrators should have. Let’s take a look at some of them that Prateek Sharma shares:
- Clarity – Whatever the job and subject may be, clarity is an essential part of voice narration. The artist should speak so every word is clear and understandable. That doesn’t just mean just being a good speaker, but it also means having quality control over the voice. It won’t go well if your actor sounds as if he has a mouth full of marbles.
- Correct pronunciation – This is essential in all forms of voice narration. The voice actor is the delivery method of information and it has to be delivered correctly. Think about if your voice actor mispronounces educational terms or names in an audio book or locations in a speech. Not only can it be distracting to the listener, but your piece will lose credibility.
- Natural articulateness – The more natural a voice narrator sounds, the more believable the piece will be. If there is a certain dialect or accent in your piece, make sure you either find a native speaker or someone adept at languages including accents, dialects, and intonations. The narration must flow naturally for the best effect.
- Acting Experience – There’s more overlap between acting and voice narration than you may think. Voice narration is a form of acting, especially with documentaries, audio books, and video games. You’ll want your voice actor to be skilled at delivering to a specific audience and creating that connection that is so important.
- Proper Pacing – This is a true skill in voice narration. A good voice narrator will be able to modify his voice to what you want, whether it’s a quick, lively pace or a slow, methodical one. The pace can help dictate the mood and flow of the narration.
This article from Bunny Studio shares more tips on hiring a great voice actor/narrator. One important step is to make a complete job description of what you want according to the goals you have set for your project. Once you have that job description and know the key elements that make a good voice narrator, you’re all set to start looking.
Hiring a Voice Narrator for Your Project
Remember, this is a big component of the success of your project. Don’t just hire the kid next door because his mom says he can do great voices and he has a microphone. You’ve narrowed down the goals of your project and what attributes you’re looking for in a voice narrator, now it’s time to find one. There are really two main options to go about this. You can go the freelance route, or you can look to a voice agency for talent.
Freelance and Independent Voice Narrators – You can find a freelance artist through various outlets and this may be the path you want. Maybe you know of freelancers from other jobs you’ve done, through friends and colleagues, or in the community. You can also find them on sites like Craigslist or sometimes through local colleges. Another route is a freelance site like Fiverr or Upwork.com. The difference here is that if you find a freelancer on your own, you will do the negotiations and work with him or her directly. When you work with a general freelance outsourcing site, compensation is set and you are still basically working with the talent and not an agency. However, you can set what you’re looking for and choose from a pool of talent.
Voice Agencies – When you work directly with an agency that specializes in voice talent, you can be assured the talent is reputable. A team will work on your project with you. Also, you’ll have customer service to help out. You can look at each profile and your actor should be consistent in work and well-vetted. The agency can work on the details like past experience and pay scale while you focus on the parts you do best. Timelines may have to be longer with an agency, but you’ll know you’ll get the work when it’s promised. You may pay a little more for this type of narrator, but the consistency, reliability, and talent you get may be worth it.
Again, looking at the goals you’ve set for your project can help you figure out which route you’d like to take. Remember, the voice is the key to the journey your audience will take with your final piece.
Working With Voice Talent
Whether you work with your talent directly or through an agency, the more guidelines you can set ahead of time, the better. When your talent understands your vision and expectations, he or she can perform more precisely to fulfill these goals. We already mentioned some elements that make great voice talent, now it’s time to put them to use. Let your actor know your pacing, your tone, and the mood you’re trying to set. Be clear with your expectations. This is why it’s so important to know the talent you’re getting. Can they do the work you want? Is it realistic? Someone may have a super smooth voice but lack the control you’re looking for. That may not be the talent you want for your project.
The Importance of the Script
The script is a huge factor in this. Your actor needs to become familiar with your script to give his best performance. And the better written your script is, the better he can perform. Again, this goes to the clear expectations and guidelines you’re setting for your voice narrator.
Especially in audio work, like a radio commercial, your script is going to convey everything through the voice actor. He will share emotion and draw pictures for the reader with his voice. This voice narration has to create the images for the listener since no visuals are involved. The better your script, the better the delivery can be. Remember, it’s a journey and your narrator is the guide. The script is a tool he’s using to give his best performance and the more detailed it is, the better he can perform.
When it comes to film, the narrator takes a step back but is still guiding the viewer through the journey of the film with emotion and pacing. Here he shares the stage with the visuals of the film, whatever medium it is. The voice works with the visuals to create a complementary, complete picture. The voice narration must match the visual part of the film. It shouldn’t’ overshadow it, just complement it. And that is talent in and of itself.
Remember the journey we’ve spoken about? Your voice narrator is the one to guide your listeners and viewers taking them on an adventure in whatever medium you offer. Whether it’s a commercial, an audio book, or an educational video, your narrator is the one to set the tone. Find the one that complements your video or paints a picture in your audio. Regardless of how you find them, find the one that you can work and who meets your expectations. That guide will determine the success of your audience’s journey. And that, my friend, determines the success of your piece. Happy trails!
Find the best voice narrator today at Bunny Studio!