Doing an effective commercial voice over means being an influencer—and doesn’t everyone want to be that? A commercial voice over promotes a business or a brand and its products or services—it influences. In other words, it’s selling, and an effective commercial voice over can mean more sales.
Maybe you’re a client needing commercial voice over talent, or you’re a talent wanting to do more of them. Now the marketplace has expanded far beyond radio and television, more traditional mediums. Social media, including YouTube, along with podcasts and websites, mean more opportunities to promote a business, and more need for great commercial voice over.
The voice of a commercial voice over must be many things to many people but needs to sound like the most important person—and voice—to one person. The best commercial voice actors have finely honed the art of talking to a person in a relatable way—and not as though it’s a stadium full of people.
The Right ‘Type’ of Commercial Voice Talent
The agency or script writer knows exactly who the target audience is for any commercial. It’s the group of people who’ll buy that product or service, usually heavily researched if it’s a major corporation or brand name. Creatives know for sure whether a millennial, GenX or mature adult will be buying, so it only makes sense to cast someone in that same age group. The target audience needs to hear a voice that “sounds like” them, at least age-wise.
Be Informed About That Script
If you’re auditioning, do your homework and think about the industry you’ll be talking about, the tone of past commercials and their target audience. What does the advertiser really want to happen here, and how can you finesse the way you deliver the words to accomplish that mission? You want to carefully analyze and interpret those words like a scientist, with thorough preparation and thought—not just jump into the booth and read whatever comes to mind.
You’re telling a story, connecting with the target audience, engaging, and massaging the words. And guess what: The client may listen to only the first 10 seconds of your audition, because after all, they’ve probably got at least 50 other auditions that also deserve their attention. That’s why thorough preparation is so important to a successful commercial read.
Types of Effective Commercial Reads
You know that commercial that shouts at you from the radio or television, and maybe you turn it off. But maybe it’s selling the thing you’ve been considering buying, so now, it has your attention. And maybe there’s a timeline or deadline to get “this once-a-year price.” Maybe the read is really fast because of so many details considered “necessary” to fit in. And maybe it’s not only loud, but highly energetic and a big forceful.
This type of commercial voice over predominates in the current marketplace. And that’s why so many voice talents see “not announcery” in the specs detailing what the client wants in a read. Miss that mark, and that voice talent’s audition won’t get through the gate. The read is subtle, non-aggressive, sensitive, realistic, and much more conversational. It may be delivered with very little inflection, almost flat, and may require the listener to use their imagination.
Stay ‘On Trend’
Before you dive into the words, think about what you’re hearing from other commercial spots. Successful commercial voice talents keep their ears open to trends. The voice of 10 or 20 years ago is certainly not the voice of the 2020’s. Like fashion, voice over styles change, too.
Be Truthful with Yourself
Don’t be afraid to practice sounding like someone whose commercial voice talent you admire. Record yourself in the booth and listen back. Then do it again, and although it can be painful, be your harshest critic and practice until you’re happy with that read.
The most successful commercial talents break the rule about “no comparison” to other voices. At the top levels, voice talents often audition for the same job, and then they hear “who got it” when the spot plays. If you can go back to your initial audition and compare notes with the actual booked spot, veterans say that’s a great way to learn what you did right—and wrong, especially if you kept the copy and specs.
Get Pro Help for Your Commercial Voice Over
The biggest money is always in commercials, so it’s no wonder the market is so competitive. There’s no shortage of great voice over coaches, so spend a few sessions brushing up if you’re seasoned, and plan to do that a few times a year. And if you’re new, getting excellent coaching out of the gate is absolutely critical. It can save you time and despair and help keep you on track. Sometimes, your favorite commercial voice talent also does coaching, so check out their websites to see if that’s the case.
You can learn to deliver effective commercial voice over every time.