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November 19, 2020

The death of a good voice over

Voice over artists are paid for emphasizing certain words. But how do you emphasize the word “death”? Well, have a look and find out in this video.

As a voiceover, you get paid to emphasise certain words, not too often and not too much. But what if the word is the word ‘death’? Let’s work with the following example. This man is dead. Not this man, this man… How do you pronounce the word ‘dead’? 

There’s a rule in the voiceover world to only emphasise one word per sentence. So, in this case, that word should be the word ‘dead’, right? Okay, but what intention are you going to put into that word? What feeling? Let’s replace the word ‘dead’ with something else. This man is celebrating.  The word celebrating gives you a lot of nice associations and as a voiceover, you can put those associations into that word. Balloons. Presents. Happiness. A day filled with joy. And all these things will make you say a sentence like, “This man is celebrating.” Ah… How nice… Alright, but the man isn’t celebrating, he’s dead. What associations do you have now? Umm, what feelings are you going to put into it? First thing you will probably think of is sadness and heavy emotions, but that would make it sound like, “This man is… dead.” A bit too much, isn’t it? There are words that already evoke so much emotions in the mind of a listener that you don’t have to emphasise them as voiceover.

In the heads of your audience, those emotions will happen naturally. And this is also the case for different words. Let’s take for example brand names. Imagine you have a script with brand name Vector Plastics, repeating 5 times over in the script. How do you handle that? Do you emphasise the name every time, because it’s the paying customer? No, you just emphasise it once, and leave out he emphasis on the rest of them. Even better, what if that video is made for employees only? It might happen that the person watching it already works there for 20 years.

If the person gets Vector Plastics emphasised in a way that it’s being introduced to him, he’s probably going to think, “Dude, I’ve already worked here for 20 years…” And there you have it, it’s just like in real life. Rules are there to be broken. And at the moment, the trend is to speak as natural as possible. This automatically means that single words are being less emphasised nowadays and the focus lies more on a line, on a paragraph or sometimes, on the complete story.  

Because if you do emphasise on words too often or you don’t think about what certain words evoke in your listeners mind, then emphasising them will be the death of a good voiceover. The death. 


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