Recording good audio is one of the hardest parts of content creation.

That’s because the soundtrack to our daily lives is something we take for granted. Yet 50% of all communication comes from the spoken word.

The stark reality is that videos or podcasts produced without the benefit of a good narrator will;

• Find it hard to convert viewers into loyal followers,
• Benefit from fewer clicks or likes than those that do,
• Flounder when trying persuade customers to take action.
• Generate fewer leads, have less traffic and convert fewer sales.

Here’s the bottom line:

Your marketing will underperform unless your digital content has a talented narrator. You will spend time, money and effort for less reward than you deserve.

Why is the narrator so important?

As humans we are used to hearing stories. Since the earliest days of humanity, people would gather around the campfire to listen; it’s how information was shared and passed down through the generations. Stories were used as a way of passing information from one group to another. More recently, stories at bedtime have become the staple of many households.

So as humans and throughout society we are hard wired to pay attention to verbal messaging. We perk up when hearing our names called, we recognise jingles or theme songs. We have memorised the words to our favourite songs.

Yet, delivering an effective messaging is not just about saying the words themselves:

As Vyvyan Evans, former Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sussex, Brighton University and Bangor University, notes; "Language is very adaptive.”

He says the tone of your voice, or how high or low your pitch is, can also affect how you communicate and express your emotions.

"The face can produce over 10,000 expressions, many of which are associated with emotional experience," he adds.

It’s this emotional experience, communicated through the voice, which is precisely what a professional narrator - known as a voiceover artist - provides.

"The face can produce over 10,000 expressions, many of which are associated with emotional experience," he adds.

It’s this emotional experience, communicated through the voice, which is precisely what a professional narrator - known as a voiceover artist - provides.

It’s not what you said…

We all know the phrase; it’s not what you said, it’s how you say it. There’s good reason for this. In fact, research analytics company Quantified Impressions notes that the quality of the spoken voice can be twice as influential as the words that are used.

Their research of 120 business executives’ speeches demonstrates that the sound of a person's voice strongly influences how he or she is perceived. Here’s what they found in their study;

  • 23% of listeners' evaluations accounted for the speakers' voice quality, but only;
  • 11% accounted for the spoken message;
  • Other important aspects were the speakers' passion, knowledge and presence.

It’s one of the reasons we’re attracted to a favourite voice on the radio.

So using the right narrator will make your content sound better.

By using the right voice your content will be engaging, easy on the ear and, above all, memorable. That in turn, will make better connections with your product or brand, which will develop trust and can help drive sales and conversion rates.

So why not narrate your own videos & podcasts?

It’s undeniably tempting. After all, no one knows your product better than you. So why spend the time and effort on something you can do yourself? Truthfully, there are a number of practical reasons why you should always hire a pro voiceover, rather than do it yourself.

Because we are accustomed to hearing the sound of our voices internally, it’s hard to recognise the voice that other people hear us speak. Great if you have a smooth, mellifluous voice with honeyed tones and a warm, reassuring timbre. But what if you have a nasal whine or a raspy tone that drives listeners mad? You might just steer your audience away.

According to the Wall Street Journal people who hear recordings of weak, strained or rough voices tend to label the speakers as negative, tense or passive. Is that what you want your audience to think?

Yet the same audience hear people with ‘normal’ voices as sociable, successful, sexy, and smart. "We are hard-wired to judge people. You hear somebody speak, and the first thing you do is to form an opinion about them," says Lynda Stucky, president of ClearlySpeaking, a Pittsburgh coaching company.

But surely colleagues will offer you honest, critical feedback about your voicing skills? No such luck, says Phyllis Hartman, an HR consultant from Ingomar, Pa. “They dance around the issue because they don't want to hurt somebody's feelings.”

How hard can it be to voice your own script?

Nothing kills a great message like a bad speaker who’s just not practiced at delivering lines in a nuanced, conversational tone. Here are some of the pitfalls of voicing your own script:

  • Hesitant, jerky reads scattered with unnatural pauses and stumbles.
  • Difficulty in sight reading in a way that sounds natural.
  • Tripping over long words or complex grammar.
  • Running out of air mid-sentence or paragraph, interrupting the flow.
  • Delivering in a monotonous, flat voice that sounds dull and boring to the listener.
  • Or having an over-eager ‘shouty’ performance that’s grating on the ear.
  • Even worse; a ‘bing-bong’ tannoy voice that’s irritating to the listener.

Falling foul of any of these basic errors will cause your audience to deliberately tune out your message. But the damage also takes place at an unconscious level too. Because just like a badly manufactured product, a badly read text will send a subliminal message your customers: “these people don’t care enough to do a good job. They’re amateurs”. It can have powerful repercussions.

There are also a whole myriad of technological challenges when recording your own audio. If you've dabbled in sound recording, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

  • Recording in a ‘clean’ room that has a low sound floor with no moving air, echo or hum.
  • Using the correct type of microphone.
  • Using the microphone correctly.
  • Mastering the pro audio software needed to capture, process and publish the best sound.
  • You do know how to de-ess, de-pop and de-click, right?
  • When you should and when you should NEVER de-breath.
  • Recording pick-ups and cleanly editing them in.

While you’re taking care of the technical aspects of recording, you’ll also need to self-direct. That means you’ll have to factor in a number of retakes and restarts for hitting the right tone and inflection. Just how long will all that take to record one clip? Now multiply that by the length of your script.

Perhaps a better question is; shouldn’t you be doing something more productive instead?

As tempting as it can be to cut a few corners, do you really have the time to spend? Do you need the stress and frustration, especially when you have better things to do?

What about the results? Will you be happy to settle for ordinary, rather than the extraordinary?

And what does that say about your brand? Is that really what you want followers and customers to remember about you?

Here’s what you need to remember: record your own narration and…

  • At best, your content will be fine,
  • But it won’t be memorable.
  • You won’t maximise the opportunity to convert.
  • At worst; you’ll lose social shares, lose subscribers and lose sales.

When you make the right decision and use a professional narrator:

Your business and your brand will become more credible and believable. You’ll have a voice specially crafted to fit your audience.

Your content will sound natural and conversational. That will make it understandable & engaging.

You’ll build trust and begin building an emotional relationship with your listeners. They will come back for more. That will lead to more more views, more subscribers and higher rankings!

You’ll save time, effort and costly mistakes.

Investing in a professional voice talent for your next project makes practical sense and there’s a worldwide community of VOs out there.

If you’d like to find out more about how I could help, drop me an email - I’d love to talk.