Wednesday, October 4

The Characteristics of Voice Over

Do you hear any disembodied voices right now? How about when you’re watching a movie, show, or commercial? Have you considered that what you’re hearing is known as a voice-over? They show up all over media, either for entertainment or informative reasons; from your television to even your phone when you’re put on hold. So what is voice over, where have you heard it, where did it come from, and what does it mean today?

What Is Voice Over?

In general, a voice over can be separated from other types of vocal performance using a few main criteria.

While it’s impossible to describe every conceivable kind of voice over, there are a few common types that you may already know about.


Narration is one of the most common and widely recognized forms of voice over.It is used to tell stories, deliver messages, communicate instructions, and more.

Narrators often record for movies, TV shows, and other forms of media, explaining events and a backstory to viewers through sound without actually appearing as a character.

On the other hand, some narrators also act as characters and switch between their two roles based on the needs of the story.

Narration can be a surprisingly tricky task for voice over artists, especially when they’re working with long-form content that can potentially take hours to read through.

In these situations, the most important thing is simply to avoid becoming monotonous and losing the audience’s attention.

Along with conventional narration in movies and TV shows, this category could also apply to audiobook narration.

Audiobook narrators need a somewhat different set of skills, including a wide vocal range to provide distinct character voice tones and keep the listener’s attention.

Some audiobook recordings may rely on multiple actors rather than asking a single voiceover artist to provide the track for all the different voices in the story.

You have also seen narration in documentaries, where voice actors often speak over animated or live-action visual content.

Animation and Character Voices

A growing number of voice actors work on animated content, as well as dubbing content that was originally produced in another language.

Animated content involves different forms of characterization compared to live-action TV and movies, and a successful voice actor requires specific skills to reach their goals in animation.

Voice actors may work on video games, films, TV shows, animated commercials, or any other form of animated media.

When it comes to animated content, the only thing in a voice actor’s toolkit is their tone.

Live-action actors can give depth to their character through their voice as well as their physical mannerisms and actions. For example, male voice actors tend to have a deep voice.

Traditional actors often struggle with the intricacies of the human voice when they transition to portraying characters in animated content.

Some animated work relies on celebrity voices to make their characters more recognizable and generate more interest in the content.

Multiple animated characters can be represented by the same voice actor, and some animated shows and movies have taken full advantage of this.

E-learning and Training

The e-learning industry grew beyond $250 million in 2020, and it should continue to experience reliable growth over the next few years and beyond.

E-learning voice actors need to be able to communicate information—including difficult class material—without losing the interest of their students.

Even if a voice actor isn’t an expert, they have to speak naturally and confidently in order to make the topic more approachable.

Similar concepts apply to corporate training videos and other types of educational content.

Notice how the Procter and Gamble training video below communicates important priorities without becoming boring or dry.


Commercials are all about producing a strong first impression and creating a sense of urgency for viewers or listeners.

Of course, the specific tone needed will vary depending on the type of content in question.

Ads for luxury items, for example, might pair well with a slow voice over that matches the cool, elevated style the brand is looking for.

On the other hand, a burger commercial needs to appeal to a person’s appetite and may need to produce a different emotion in the viewer or listener.

Explainer videos are another common type of promotional content which simultaneously describe how a product or service works while trying to sell viewers or listeners on the benefits.

Check out Slack’s explainer video below for a perfect example of bridging the gap between communicating information and pushing viewers toward a sale.

Thank you for your reading. Good Luck!