How to ensure your voice actor sounds really engaging

3 min read

It’s an absolute truism in marketing and advertising that – no matter you good your product or service is – it’s great copywriting that sells it to your target market. By the same token, if you combine great copywriting with a great voice over, you’re dealing with something akin to solid gold. The key is connection. Engagement. So knowing how to ensure your voice actor sounds really engaging is pretty much mission-critical.

Engaging voice over: Image of smiling voice actor
Image: Envato

Your voice actor needs to sound welcoming. Friendly. On Voice123, friendly and engaging are ubiquitous tags on just about every voice actor’s online profile, because just about every client asks for them.

But what is an engaging, friendly voice? How do you get your voice actor to radiate engaging friendliness?

Friendly is one of those words that can mean a lot of things. Describing a person, it can mean nice, kind, generous, easy-going, helpful and polite. So when it comes to a voice, the implications of asking for a friendly voice can be just as vague.

That doesn’t mean it’s useless. Rather, it should serve as a guide, and help you understand what you want out of friendly. Let’s take a look at what it means to make a voice over sound friendly and how to ensure your voice actor sounds really engaging.

Engaging and friendly – how?

When it comes to a voice over, there are different kinds of friendly. Friendliness in a character, and friendliness in a voice. 

In a character, friendliness tends to be more subtle, and exists in relation to other characters. In a voice, the friendly qualities are emphasized, and refers to how the voice makes the listeners feel. We’ll start with characterized friendliness.

Characterized friendliness 

Maybe it’s a teasing nature of a friend, curiousness about a friend’s daily circumstances, or the way someone says ‘hi’ to a neighbor. These are ways friendliness can be heard in a character.

It’s helpful to imagine this kind of friendliness in relation to other characters or in the voice over setting, like an animated character in fantasyland. Who is the voice actor playing as? What are their goals and objectives? What are their given circumstances? These kinds of questions help the voice actor know what the character is after, and will naturally inform the voice actor how to speak.

Engaging voice over: image of a clown holding a teacup
Image: Envato

Imagine you’re asked to play the role of a child excitedly asking for a popsicle from a popsicle stand. Immediately, you’ll have some ideas about how an excited child might speak. Drawing from the setting, the friendliness automatically follows.

So if you’re looking for characterized friendliness from your voice over, simply inform your voice actor well about their role. If there’s still a mismatch between the friendliness you want and what your voice actor is providing, see if you can further align your understandings of the character.

Friendly voice

Luckily, a friendly voice isn’t hard to achieve either. Here, friendly refers to the characteristics of the sound. You can rely on other words to describe the voice, such as warm, soft, approachable, and charming.

Notice how most of the words describe the way the voice feels. Pointing out how a voice feels is much more useful than a more vague description like “happy.” Try to give precise descriptions to help your voice actor understand what friendly in the voice means to the voice over project.

The friendly voice is something that we can all naturally put on. Think of the customer service voice. Or maybe the way you might speak to your friend’s children. Or the voice you use when you speak with a new client.

Naturally, you speak in a way that’s looking out for the listener’s interests. 

Why it’s important

At this point, it may seem a bit superfluous to differentiate a friendly voice versus characterized friendliness. But in a voice over context, it’s the difference between the voice actor speaking to other characters as a friend, or a voice actor focused on delivering your message directly to your audience.

Engaging voice over: image of a microphone and headphones
Image: Envato

For a voice actor, that makes a big difference in how the voice sounds. A fourth-wall breaking performance can be very different from an in-character performance. And for you, knowing what kind of friendly you’re looking for is going to really sharpen your voice over’s friendly identity.

Final thoughts

Specificity is key. You can think of friendly as a multitool — there are multiple ways to use it. It’s also good to keep in mind that beyond affecting the way the voice sounds, it’s mainly about how the voice makes you feel.

That statement deserves repeating: it’s mainly about how the voice makes you feel.

Chances are, if you’re working with a professional voice actor, friendly is in their skillset. It’s hard to make a career in the industry without having some sort of engagement in the voice. It’s then a matter of being on the same page.

Like we said at the very beginning of this post: knowing how to ensure your voice actor sounds really engaging is mission-critical.

Now you do – and we wish you every success with your voice over projects!