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How to produce professional video voiceovers

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Like many video techniques, it’s possible to record a great voiceover without a professional video production team. However, there are many poorly executed examples of video voiceover work all over YouTube and we don’t want your next video to fall in with the wrong crowd. Fresh Cut are advocates for fantastic creative video and producing high quality voiceover is one of our favourite video production techniques.

Creating great voiceovers is a skillful task often performed by experienced sound engineers, however, with the right tips and knowledge it’s feasible to produce your own. Are you feeling creative? Read on to learn more about great video voiceovers and how to record them!

The role of a voiceover in video

Just like great video lighting a great video voiceover will make your video engaging and professional. If audiences can’t hear clearly what is being said by the voiceover, or follow the narrative easily, they are highly likely to stop watching your video and move on to something better. High quality audio or voiceover in a video will help drive more video views and keeps viewers engaged for longer and enable the team behind the video campaign to reach their video marketing strategy goals.

Great video voiceover examples

Voiceovers are most commonly and effectively used in brand and product videos, and how-to and explainer videos. If you are creating your own how-to or explainer videos it’s feasible to also create your own quality voiceover, whereas voiceover used in TV advert production should be produced by a team of experts. Below are a couple of examples of great voiceover in video.

Ethical Coffee Chain – Know Your Bean

In this explainer video the voiceover clearly narrates the animated illustration scenes to articulate the ethical story behind this coffee chain. The cute illustrations and happy vibes of the soundtrack are complemented by the calm, confident tone of the actor to engagingly tell how the journey of the coffee been from the farm to your front door, and why it’s so great for the community and planet.

Airbnb – What is Airbnb?

This explainer video by Airbnb looks great, it features cool animation and beautiful live action to show the style of properties you could stay in if you book with them. The positive, conversational actor clearly explains the benefits of Airbnb and has a slight excited tone to her voice without being too much. Similar to the Ethical Coffee Bean example there is also an uplifting soundtrack being played quietly to bring the scenes and the voiceover together.

Consider a celebrity voiceover

If your budget allows adding the voice of a celebrity that will resonate or appeal to your target audience is a great option. Not only will your brand benefit from association to the celebrity, your video is more likely the audience’s attention from the first word as soon as they hear a familiar voice, this can make your message more impactful and memorable. Remember that your voiceover script and delivery style need to support your video content not distract attention from it.

For example, if you’d like to associate your product with high quality or luxury then Joanna Lumley’s plummy British tones could be a great fit, whereas the warm, conversational tone of Olivia Coleman is a great fit for more everyday brands.

Advertising with voiceover

Obviously, you cannot advertise with a video on the radio or during a podcast show but you can use your voiceover, or a slightly different edit of it. An effective video marketing strategy is a valuable part of a wider marketing strategy. Advertising with a video and its voiceover means you can increase the reach of your brand message amongst different audiences and get even more value from your video production budget.

Write a voiceover script

A bit of preparation goes along way in the world of great video voiceovers, always prepare a script and ensure that your key message is delivered within the first 30 seconds so you don’t keep folks wondering. If your writing an explainer video script it’s advisable to also:

  • Speak in the 2nd person, using words like ”you” and “your”
  • Use simple language to avoid alienating viewers with technical terms
  • Opt for a casual, conversational tone
  • Keep it concise at circa 90 seconds

Recommended equipment for video voiceovers

Not only does an experienced video production company have a talented and experienced team, including sound engineers, they also possess the best technical equipment and know how to use. Aspiring video producers who need to create quality voiceovers on a budget can do so with the following essential pieces of recording kit: 

  • Script: The most important piece of a video voiceover is the script. Never record a voiceover without one unless you have time to waste editing your way through a load of umms. Take time to prepare an engaging narrative well in advance of your recording session, share it with your voiceover artist before you record so that they can practise their delivery.
  • Microphone: A microphone is essential capturing quality sound. Choose a USB microphone that can be plugged directly into your computer, if it doesn’t have a USB use an XLR cable and USB audio interface. Always secure your microphone in a mic stand rather than holding it in your hands which will create unwanted noise. 
  • Computer or laptop 
  • Audio recording software: There is plenty of choice and it’s important to find the best one for you. We recommend Audacity which is free to use and produces great quality sound. Adobe Audition CC is also easy to use and comes bundled with the Adobe Creative Suite. 
  • Headphones 

How to record a high quality video voiceover

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There are three key steps to consider when recording a voiceover:

1. Find an acoustic friendly room

The room where you will record your voiceover will play a crucial role into the voiceover quality. During a recording session the microphone will pick up the voice, the room and the way the voice reacts with the room (E.g. reflects off the surfaces). A perfect room for voiceover is quite small with plenty of soft furnishings, these kinds of rooms provide good acoustics. 

Avoid large rooms as the sound you record may be distant and difficult to understand, whereas, a room that is too small will have an echo. Rooms with too many hard or reflective surfaces (E.g. bathroom) will always sounds worse than a soft furnished room. Please test the sound or acoustics in a room before you set up your recording equipment, simply clap or talk in a loud voice and check that the sound is clear and intelligible, and not muffled or reverberating around the room.

2. Do a test recording

Set up your equipment and start a new track in your software, record a couple of paragraphs of your script to ensure your equipment is working properly and the audio sounds good. Think about clarity, volume and background noise. Position the microphone about 6 increases from the speaker’s mouth and just below their chin.

Always record at a good audio level to save time in post production. For the most part, your ideal audio level is between -10db to -20db, never go above 0db, as your audio may begin to distort or “clip”. Your audio software will have a red indicator to show you when you hit the danger zone. Listen to your recording on headphones so you can check the audio is clear, your audiences are most likely to listen to your voiceover on headphone so ensure the quality is optimum for them.

3.  Record your voiceover audio

You may need to do a few takes and that’s okay, remember to speak slowly and clearly and don’t worry if you mess up just start again. Try smiling as you speak and enjoy the process.

What makes a great voiceover

A great video voiceover can be broken down into four key elements, each of which must be delivered to engage audiences with your video. These are:

  • Audio clarity and volume: It’s essential to get this part right. Record your voice at a comfortable level and ensure your voice is clear. When the volume of your voice is too low viewers will struggle to hear and switch off, likewise if your voice sounds fuzzy or muffled.
  • Pacing: Talk too slow and viewers will get bored, talk too fast and they’ll struggle to keep up. Practise speaking your voiceover script to find the perfect pace and remember to pause for effect and create natural breaks in your story.
  • Vocal tone and inflection: Remember to talk in a pleasant, natural manner. You want to sound approachable and genuine, not OTT or fake. Avoid sounding like a game show host or monotone robot at all costs.
  • Pronunciation: Always speak clearly and pronounce each word correctly, without over exaggerating or shouting. You don’t have to be a voice actor perfect but you need to be understood by the audience.

Voiceover vocal delivery tips

Practise your voiceover technique until you are satisfied with the quality of it. Remember to breathe and work on effective execution of each of the four key elements that make a great voiceover as listed above. Perfecting your voiceover art may take a lot of practise but it will be worth it and add an extra layer of magic to your video. The next step after recording is editing and during this process you can make simple corrections in your audio software.

How to edit video voiceover

It’s unlikely that you will record your voiceover perfectly in one take so it’s handy to learn some editing tips so that you can mix a great video voiceover. First, listen to the entire voice over recording and listen to the pace and overall tone of the recording. Hopefully you like it! The next time you listen make editing notes of words or sections you ‘d like to improve. This may include long silences between sentences or any weird sounds that don’t belong in your audio.

Every piece of software is different but they are relatively straightforward to learn, especially for simpler voiceover scripts. When you have your final voiceover edit the next step is to sync it with your video, if you recorded it in a standalone audio editor you’ll need to save and import it into your video editor.

Let’s create a standout video with great voiceover

Prefer to work with creative video experts to create a standout video for your brand? Let’s work together! Fresh Cut are a leading video production company helping brands tell their stories on TV and online since 2006. With studios in Leeds, Manchester and London we are proud to work with brands and budgets of all sizes. Take a look inside our fantastic portfolio of creative video content and get in touch with our talented team to discuss your next video project.