After a script has been written for an explanatory video we ask our clients to review choices for a voiceover. This is an important step in the production process and a lot more is involved then one would think. You will need to decide style, tone or accent and of course you will have a wide variety of masculine and feminine voices to choose from. So how do you choose between a masculine and female talent?
Obviously, the most important thing would to be to think about your audience or target market. You wouldn’t want a man’s voice selling you on a product for nail services (would you?). In the same way, wouldn’t it be a surprise to hear a women’s voice selling you on the latest Hemi V8 engine? Or maybe, that would interest you more?
What the tech world is doing:
Siri from Apple, has caught the attention of many users. Apples recent iOS update allows users to change from Siri’s feminie voice to a masculine voice. Clifford Nass, a Stanford University professor, who studies peoples interactions with technology (author of, The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships) is quoted as saying that “people apply gender baises even to digital voices, and iPhone owners in the U.S. might be more inclined to overlook a male Siri’s shortcomings than a female’s. Nass also says “It’s much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes.” With the recent change to Siri’s automated voice we will soon see which users prefer masculine vs. feminine.
What research is showing regarding female talent vs. males:
Research shows that the female voiceover tends to be more soothing then a male voiceover. People respond better because they feel comfortable, they have more trust in what they are hearing. Also, research shows that women tend to trust each other and men trust women over men.
A males voiceover is more often used when the target market is “masculine” such as; cars, newest gadgets, sports or to shorten the list – things that the mostly male gender are interested in. Not to many women would tune into a video about the latest Alien Gaming Laptop from Dell, would you agree? That is the equivillant of a man wanting to know about the newest Brother Sewing Machine.
History also tells us a lot about the use of a female voiceover males:
Cnn.com reports that “According to some sources, the use of female voices in navigation devices dates back to World War II, when women’s voices were employed in airplane cockpits because they stood out among the male pilots. And telephone operators have traditionally been female, making people accustomed to getting assistance from a disembodied woman’s voice.” I guess that’s why my old 86’ Nisan Maxima was a female voice, warning me “Your, door is jar. Your sunroof is open.” Thinking back to “her” soothing tone I was always happy “she” was a “she” voice and I can still recall her soothing warnings, clearly, to this very 2013 day.
Also, almost all GPS navigation systems default to the voice as female. Have you ever changed it? I haven’t. To tell the truth, I am more inclined to agree with the directions coming from a female voice vs. males because in my life experience a man is less likely to stop and ask for directions then a women. Therefore, my trust with a male voice is broken. And if “she” incorrectly sends me the wrong way I would be more willing to forgive her because it’s as much my fault as hers. I seems Apple had a solid point! Amazing when you think about how trust is really a factor to an audibly played voice, isn’t it? In his book Nass continues, “Cultural stereotypes run deep.” These words run deep and true.
All this information takes choosing between a male voiceover and female voiceover even more daunting and leaves you with a lot to consider. So where do you start? As mentioned in the outset, you have to decide on voice style and accent. However, the best thing to do is answer these few questions first: What audience are you trying to target? Is it a masculine product, or a feminine one? If it’s not a choice between a feminine or masculine product or your product is too new and you’re unsure of your audience you should ask, which voiceover would offer the most trust when selling your product? And finally, what product will bring your video to life in the best possible way? Answering these questions are sure to help you decide on which talent to use.
As always, this is a team effort and here at Explanatory Videos we are always willing to give you the feedback you need once your choice has been made.
Let us know your thoughts or gut reaction on which talent you would choose and why? We are interested in your feedback and look forward to your comments. Happy posting!