Grab your audience by speaking to them, not at them!

3 min read

Not sure what we mean when we say you should grab your audience by speaking to them, not at them? Well, there was a time when most commercials on radio and television shouted.


Even if you don’t, the thinking at the time was that the louder your advertisement was, the more likely it would be to grab your audience. They’d pay attention to it. The more forceful the language, the more likely the audience would rush out and do what they were being told to do. Made sense, right?

Back then, maybe.

Here’s an example of speaking at:

“Get your gold-edition vacuum at the Megavolume Superstore! Yes! It sucks up everything, best of its kind, nothing like it, buy it now, time is limited! Buy-buy-buy!”

And here’s an example of speaking to:

“Hey – your old vacuum just not doing its job anymore? Sure, you made some great memories together but there comes a time. Well, the gold-edition vacuum here at the Megavolume Superstore really sucks like it’s supposed to…”

The first example almost comes across as obnoxiously instructional, while the second is kind, caring, and smiling.

Of course, we’re being dramatic, but it’s important to note how drastically voiceover styles have changed over the years. Because it’ll determine whether or not your audience will not only hear you, but listen to what you’re saying.

A dance down memory lane

Think: a voice like this. We all know a voice like this. Heck, even our funny friends can do a voice like this.

But now, these booming announcery voice overs have been replaced by more conversational ones.

Grab your audience: image of vintage radio
Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

Why? Because the old, resonant-style voice over was used for authoritative and declarative speech. And now, ads and content just can’t grab authority and make declarations like that. 

With the saturation of markets with innumerable businesses and more brand voices than you can ever listen to, people stopped listening to businesses that told them what to do. With all those voices, there was simply too much to do!

So what the audiences needed was a friend. A confidant. Someone to speak with twho had their ideas and concerns in mind.

Today, we see that reflected in the popular: softer, warmer, friendlier, and casual voice. All to adopt a more conversational style.

Have you heard?

Have you heard your friend ask, “have you heard?” 

Instantly your attention homes in on what your friend has discovered, whether it’s juicy gossip or the new chocolate-truffle donut released by your favourite donut shop.

“Heard what?” you ask.

Then your friend goes to tell you all the details about what makes the donut great, and it’s a conversation. And the conversation makes you think, “Darn, I really want one of those donuts now.”

Truth is, it’s much easier to trust something when a friend recommends it, rather than the thing recommending itself. Don’t tell people what to do; they don’t want it. These days, they’re just looking for the right brand to trust.

Using conversational voiceovers to speak to your audience members (instead of speaking at them) is going to build that trust. You’ll sound like a trustable friend, not a salesperson.

But if you’re going to opt for the conversational tone, your voice actor is going to have to make it sound real!

It’s true! I swear!

Grab your audience: image of female voice actor
Image: Shutterstock

Making a conversational voice over sound real and genuine is harder than you might imagine. After all, if you stick a voice actor in a recording studio and tell them to be granny’s best friend at the retirement home, it’s a challenge!

Voice actors must take a script and speak the words. Not read them.

It’s a crucial distinction.

It means the phrasing, the pitch, the beats, and tones must sound as if the voice actor is conducting a real conversation. That’s the only way to really grab your audience.

What now?

Consequently, scriptwriting is the first thing you’ll need to adjust to avoid speaking at an audience.

The script has to allow the voice actor to feel as if they’re in a conversation. There’s no sense in telling a voice actor to be more conversational when it’s clear that the script’s language is tempting them to yell.

Once the script has set the structure for a conversation, then you can rely on the voice acting to grab your audience.

It’s the voice acting that brings the conversation to life. Who’s speaking? Is it the frustrated layperson, the person looking who knows the right retirement plan, or the person who wants to share your donuts?

When you begin speaking to an audience, a lot of it relies on your voice actor’s talent, and their ability to make your words on the script sound like their own. 

So when looking for your conversational voice actor, lend an ear to their samples and imagine the character you want them to be when they conduct the conversation.

Saying goodbye

Structure the script like a conversation and find a voice actor who’s great at voice acting. One whose voice sounds warm, friendly, engaging, and convincing enough to get your message across. Remember that Voice123 has some of the finest voice actors in the world just waiting to audition for you!

Keep all these suggestions in mind and you’ll grab your audience by speaking to them in no time.

Finally, we wish you every success!