How a Professional Voice Over Can Help Your Small Business

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As an entrepreneur and self-employed person, I’m well-versed with the steps of establishing a new small business: At first there’s the emphasis on a good company name and domain name, then comes the mission statement and company logo, and soon the business cards are being printed.

Next, you’ll be asking yourself ‘how does my business sound?’ and how best to communicate a memorable message about the product or service you’re offering.

If you want your business to be the best, it should both look and sound the best.

By choosing a professional voice over for your corporate message you can ensure it’s conveyed confidently and professionally. As a result your company will also be conveyed confidently and professionally.

Professional Voice Over vs Do-It-Yourself Recording

Sometimes, people choose to cut costs by asking someone in-house to record their voice over, but there are drawbacks of taking this approach:

  • The audio quality is usually questionable; room tone and background noise can affect the clarity of your message.
  • The tone of voice may sound flat and uninteresting and this can reflect on your company – imagine if your company logo was made from 90s clip art!
  • The meter may be incorrect for the script. If read too fast or too slow, the audio will have an amateurish quality.
  • If a professional studio isn’t used to make the recording, any amendments needed at a later date will be difficult to match to the original audio and can stand out like a sore thumb when you edit them into your video.

By contrast, here’s what a professional voice over will give you:

  • They’ll have a professional broadcast quality studio where pristine audio will be recorded with no background noise, pops or clicks or room tone / reverb.
  • You’ll get an engaging read! Professionals are paid to sound anything but “flat and uninteresting”.
  • If the video has already been created prior to recording the voice, they will keep in mind the length of your video edit and record the script to meet any time limits, while at the same time sounding fluid and captivating. (Note: Usually it’s best to record your voice over first and create your corporate video afterwards, to fit around the voice over).
  • Because most professional voice overs have their own studio, if you need your recording amended at a later date they will be able to provide a recording that’s virtually identical to the original. The new recording (perhaps because you updated the price of your product or have a new special offer) will seamlessly and quickly edit into your original corporate video and will save you money on re-recording the entire script again.

My Credentials

The main types of business communication I usually record are:

Elearning and Training Videos

  1. eLearning Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:43

These require a clear yet engaging tone of voice as the audience often listen for many hours and need to retain the information.

I’ve also written about choosing a voice for your e-Learning course.

Corporate Videos and Animations

Created for:

  • A company’s intranet.
  • To represent a company at trade shows and conferences.
  • For communicating longer informative messages to the public. These communications often make up the bulk of a companies YouTube channel content and / or social media posts.
  • Business to business communication.

The voice over style is often aspirational and upbeat in anticipation of the future, or natural and conversational.

  1. Corporate Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:18

Down to Earth Communications (appropriate during COVID-19)

  1. Down-To-Earth Example Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:30

A down to earth tone can be more appropriate for some corporate messages, especially when relating to changes in uncertain times.

Advertising on YouTube, Facebook, Linked In, Instagram or Twitter

  1. Upbeat Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:56
  2. Cool Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:47
  3. Regional Accent Example (Northern, UK) Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:18
  4. Audio Imaging & Branding Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:45
  5. Kids TV Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:57

When advertising, you’ll need your voice over to sound attention-grabbing and as exciting as the other competing commercials on the TV / radio and streaming sites.

The voice you choose can also give your brand character, whether that’s by choosing a regional accent, a sincere conversational tone or a super cool delivery.

Need a Voice Over Recording?

Please get in touch if you would like my voice to speak for your business. I offer 24 hour turnaround on most scripts and supply ready-to-use audio by e-mail.

How to Direct a Voice Over Session

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First Things First: Choosing Your Voice Talent

Before we get into directing, let’s look at the crucial initial stage of recording a voice over – choosing your voice talent.

When choosing the best voice for your commercial, listen to a few different voice artists’ showreels. Ideally you want to hear close to the tone of voice you’re looking for before you contact and book your voice.

If you’re planning on recording a live session with the voice talent, also satisfy yourself that the voice over has experience of live recording sessions and a long line of happy customers. It may sound surprising, but some people cannot take direction well and don’t sound in the studio as they do in their demos. This is an unexpected scenario that can leave you out of pocket as you find and record a different voice over instead (but usually still have to pay the first one).

You can take the risk out of this situation by asking your preferred voice to record a few lines of a demo before you book them. This is a service that myself and many other pros offer free of charge.

By checking off these points, once you’re in a live session with your voice over, you’ll be able to trust them and their ideas – and because we do this all the time we’re worth listening to! We’ll likely be able to deliver your script exactly as you want it, quickly and with little fuss, leaving everyone happy.

That said, should you have a specific tone, pace or style of delivery in mind you’ll absolutely want to play a part in directing the session. So, here’s how to prepare to direct your voice talent.

Preparing to Direct a Voice Over Session

  • Before the session, read the script aloud to yourself. While it might make you feel self-conscious at first, the more comfortable you are reading the script (placing emphasis and pause where you want it), the happier you’ll be to relay your aims to the voice over artist during the recording session.
  • Reading aloud also allows you to check that your copy is written to time. Adverts for the TV and radio are cut to exact times — usually 19 seconds or 29 seconds for TV and 10 seconds or 30 seconds for radio — so you need to know that what you have to say isn’t too long for your air time slot, and that it can be read at a comfortable pace within that time.
  • Print out a copy of the script, or look at it on your phone and annotate it. The following annotation tips will help you remember to read the script as you intended when you’re in the session:
    • Underline words to emphasise them (but use this sparingly; if everything is emphasised then nothing is emphasised!)
    • Place a diagonal line between words to mark places to pause (e.g. “Often you want to pause / for effect.”)
  • Before the session make a note of a read you like from the voice over’s showreel and let them know at the start of the session (e.g. “I like the tone of voice in your upbeat commercials showreel at 22 seconds”)
  • When thinking of other companies’ advertising campaigns, are there any that sound the way you want your voice over to sound? If so, find the commercial(s) on YouTube and send a link to your voice over before the session.

When the Session Begins

  • As voice overs, we love to hear about your project and your aims at the beginning of the session. Let us know:
    • Some general information about the product or service you’re advertising
    • Who your target audience is
    • Where they are located geographically, if relevant, as this could affect the accent we use to deliver your script, in order to resonate more with your audience.
  • Next, in plain-English remind the voice over how you want the read to sound, for example: ‘cool and powerful’, ‘formal and professional’, ‘upbeat and friendly’, ‘natural, real and conversational’
  • After the first recording, be honest with the voice. Tell them what you think – tactfully! For example, “That was good but it needs to be more upbeat”, “That’s getting there, but can you make it sound cooler and give it more attitude”, “It sounded too much like a hard-sell voice over and it needs to be more natural”, “I’d like to hear it with more light and shade”
  • Soon you’ll have a number of versions recorded, and hopefully they’re getting better every time.
  • Now is a good time to look back at the script you practiced before the session, is the emphasis where you want it? It’s normal to ask the voice over to re-record single sentences at this point, and then after the session, an earlier recording can be edited and modified by adding in these new sentences.
  • As voice overs, we always expect to re-do key sentences and the tag line; this will give you a good number of options to choose from in the edit or when you cut to visuals.
  • Important – With all of this said, it’s surprising how often a client will use a voice over’s very first take, even after exploring different alternatives. This is because, as actors, we do this all the time and our intuition is informed by the hundreds of scripts we’ve recorded over the years for many happy customers.

When to Stop Recording

Eventually, time will run out. It’s likely you’ll book a voice over talent for an hour, but that doesn’t mean you have to use all of the hour. In fact, It’s more common not to for short projects like commercials.

My tip here is simply: Don’t be afraid to call it a day once you hear what you like. Decisiveness is a good thing! Recording new versions for the sake of it will only make it harder to decide which one to use, and can lead to a loss of perspective about what you wanted to achieve in the first place.

After the Session – Editing & Post-Production

  • When faced with all of your voice over takes, decide on a clear favourite, test it with your music or visuals, and then consider editing in any stand alone sentences that you recorded as alternatives.
  • If you need more light and shade and you have a good range of takes, try taking a paragraph from here and there and combining them into one recording. This can sometimes give a more captivating sound to the overall read.
  • On the flip side, sometimes you’ll not want to do any editing. A voice over read that’s recorded in a single take can sound very comfortable and natural, and edits will only interrupt the authenticity of the performance given by the voice talent.
  • At the end of the day, use your ear – whatever sounds best, use it!

My Credentials

Thanks for reading this article, I hope you found it useful.

I’ve written it from my many years of experience working as a professional voice over artist. I’ve recorded literally thousands of live sessions, either via remote connection (Source Connect / ISDN / Clean Feed / SIP Audio) or in person. Some examples include recording with Microsoft in LA, ITV in London, and on a day-to-day basis connecting with clients in their homes or offices who are creating new marketing content.

People often comment on my ability to take direction very well.

Finally, if you don’t want or need to direct your session, I can also supply audio by e-mail. All you need to do is e-mail me a script. I will supply two or three takes recorded in my professional home studio. I offer 24 hour turnaround on most jobs.

I look forward to hearing about your project.

Choosing a Voice for Your e-Learning Course

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In this blog post, I go behind the scenes of creating audio for e-Learning courses.

What to Look for in Your Voice Talent

  • Firstly, choose a voice who records in a professional studio. You could hire Patrick Stewart, but if he made your recording in a shower cubicle using a smart phone you’d not be happy with the result!
  • Next, voice overs who regularly record e-Learning content are the best people to work with. Like myself, they are usually masters of editing and processing audio. They’ll edit your recordings and split them up into separate files (often for each slide that your course specifies). This means their work will drop straight into your training course or e-Learning program and you’ll not concern yourself personally with any audio engineering.
  • Hire voiceovers who have a good internet connection and are tech savvy. This way they’ll not struggle to promptly send you the the large number of audio files your training course likely requires.
  • Check the talent that you hire are regularly available. When you’re creating a lot of audio, mistakes in the script often need addressing. Hiring a voice over talent who is available everyday will ensure that those mistakes can be quickly amended and your project isn’t put on hold.

Do It Yourself vs Paying a Professional Voice Over

Many people think that they can record a good-enough voice over, especially if the project is on a budget. Not surprisingly however, the recording quality and sound of amateur voice overs is below par most of the time.

Additionally, amateur voices aren’t experienced actors. Remember back to your early school days when someone came in to read at story time? Some people had a knack for it while others would read all words as though they were the same. Which did you prefer?

The bottom line is that a professional voice talent will give the most interesting delivery of your message. E-Learning courses (and nearly all kinds of educational audio recording) are, by definition, long. If the message could be conveyed in a quicker way then it would be. It’s important to respect the fact that your audience are going to be listening for a long time, and so they deserve to hear a voice that doesn’t grate or become tiresome – and even better that keeps them interested beyond the first few minutes!

As someone experienced in e-Learning and audio book acting, I am trained for these marathons of text.

  1. eLearning Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:43
  2. Medical Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:29
  3. English Language Course Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:38
  4. Audiobook Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:54

I’m conscious during my performances of e-Learning voiceovers that they must maintain an interesting, clear and engaging tone, as demonstrated in this instructional video I recorded for Samsung.

Choose a Voice Who Can Act

E-learning courses usually have a variety of real-life scenarios aimed at demonstrating the case in point. These scenarios, designed to place the listener in a role play situation, strive to be believable so that the listener can experience and learn from the interaction. It’s therefore important that the voices they’re hearing can act!

Professional voices can often create and perform multiple characters as shown here in my characters showreel:

  1. Characters - Video Game and Audiobook Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:04

When you cast voice overs who are also actors your life will be easier:

  • Your project will require less planning when each voice can play multiple characters
  • Overall the number of voices you’ll have to hire will be reduced, saving you money.

My Credentials

If you’re looking for a voice that ticks all of these boxes, please consider me for your e-Learning project.

To date, I have completed many large audio projects, from audiobooks to training courses.

I Can Also Manage Your Entire E-Learning Project

As an experienced voice actor and trained sound engineer with a good knowledge of the UK voice over industry, I can also offer a one-stop-shop for your e-Learning project. If you would like me to cast multiple talented voices and record and edit your entire project then please get in touch to discuss your requirements.