How to select a voice over for explainer videos?

Ok, first of, a disclaimer: Basically, there are a few guidelines that could help you choose the right VO, but mostly VOs rely on one major science called GUT FEELING. Yeah, sorry to disappoint you, there is no surefire formula that’d help you choose a VO.

So why should you even read this article? Well, because you may need some tips to help your gut along. If you were selecting a voice over for explainer videos here are a few questions you may face:

What kind of VOICE should the narrator have? (I really like those radio kind of voices): Stop it right there! You’re starting out all wrong. The voice over has to based on the concept you have. And the decision on the VO to be used can come only once you have the concept and the script in place.

Got the script? OK now see what does the script demands. Most VOs need a conversational tone. So you may want to try a friendly voice. A pleasing voice of a neighbour. Yes, you may love the heavy radio voice, but it is not always the best choice for a conversational tone. You need someone who can sound sort-of chatty- like this:

If your concept is slightly unusual, and wants a certain “feel”, you have to make sure that your VO artist can offer the variety you seek. For example it could need a retro feel like this:

Should I use a male or female VO artist?

Well, in most explainers, it is the talent of the artist that’s more important than the gender. The impact of a male or female VO is more or less the same, but it is just that certain artists can narrate better than others… take the case of the male narrator of this video.

It is just as entertaining as the female narrator of this video:

Though of course, there are some emotions, that go better with a certain gender.

The video above, needs a motherly cooing of a female. While the YoTaxi video may not have sounded as cool with a female narrator.

What kind of accent should I choose?

This depends on your target market. Understandability is crucial, so the narrator should use an easily understandable accent. That is why most often a neutral accent is preferred. But even in that, neutral accent varies from nation to nation, so has to be chosen based on the people you target. A US neutral accent is commonly understood the world over, because people are more exposed to it.

Should I use more than one VO artists?

Why not? If your concept demands it, and you feel that it’ll add value to your video, then you can experiment with two voice overs. But make sure that it is in keeping with the concept. It should not be forced or introduced just for the sake of novelty. You have to ensure that the VO artists are able to coordinate to provide a seamless narrative. There should be a chemistry when the two VOs are brought together, even if they were recorded individually. If done right, the video can be very charming.

How does one develop the instinct to choose a VO artists?

Now that, my dear, is the question of questions. The gut comes mostly with experience. If you have seen a lot of explainers, you may have a an easier time judging. Or else, leave it to the folks creating your explainer videos, as they have been working in the industry, and are most likely the people who came up with the concept in the first place, they may be able to judge better.

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