Articulating Voice Over


Originally from the phrase voice-over-picture, a voice over is a spoken-word recording, also known as a narration. The voice over artist is the person whose voice is heard. A voice over artist is also known as a voice artist, voice over actor, voice actor, voice over performer, voice performer, voice over talent, voice talent, voice over narrator, voice narrator, narrator, announcer, and simply a V.O.



  1. Unaffected (natural): The natural delivery is today‘s most popular style. It is generally used for most sectors of voice over, except for promos & trailers, broadcast & announcer reads, and character &animation scripts. Many people mistakenly interpret ―natural to mean ―casual. That is incorrect. Natural simply means unaffected, which means ANY voice used in real life, such as nonchalant, energetic, funny, sad, compassionate, happy, sarcastic, and so on.
  2. Affected (unnatural): An affected delivery is generally used only for promos & trailers, broadcast & announcer reads, and character & animation scripts. This was not the case prior to the 1990s, when many sectors of voice over used affected style delivery.


  1. Voice Over commercial market- 8% of voice over work is estimated to be commercial work. While the smaller portion of voice over, few jobs pay as well as a national television commercial. However, most professional talent earn the majority of their income from narration work, as there is simply much more of it.
  • Radio: commercial
  • Television: commercial
  • PSA: public service announcement
  • Promo: promotional advertisement for television show
  • Trailer: promotional advertisement for movie


  1. Voice over narration market- 92% of voice over work is estimated to be narration work. Many voice over artists specialize in one or more types of narration voice over. For marketing purposes, their demos demonstrate their specialty, e.g.: an audiobook demo. And likewise, they market themselves to audiobook recording studios, audiobook casting professionals, and audiobook producers.

Announcement: airports, stadiums, train stations, etc.

Audiobook: adult, children, self-help, best seller, classic, etc. Audiobooks are approximately a $1 billion per year industry, which is approximately 13% of the publishing industry. Amazingly, audiobooks reported a 5% growth in the industry last year, with similar growth projected for this year. Most bookstores now sell audiobooks, and most libraries rent them. Today there are even narrated weekly magazines and narrated daily newspapers. Self-help, teen, and non-fiction are some of the faster-growing styles. Other popular styles include fiction, science fiction, romance, contemporary classic, children, and mystery.

Biography: celebrity, politician, etc. When most people think of biographies, they think only of the biography channel on cable television. However biography voice over narrations is also popular for non-fiction audiobooks, educational films, and self-guided museum tours.

Character & animation: talking toys, cartoons, children‘s books, multimedia educational videos, video games, etc. * IMPORTANT * Many people mistakenly confuse the terms Character and Animation. A Character voice is representative of someone else‘s voice… in other words, the voice talent mimics another voice, such as an accent, dialect, impersonation, and cliché voice (such as a New York cab driver). An Animation voice is one that is created to represent a being that does not naturally speak, such as a cartoon character, an animated movie, a talking toy, and so on. Corporate (industrial): sales video, trade show exhibit, promotional material, new hire video, training tutorial, compliance video, etc.

Documentary: wildlife, country and people, natural disaster, children‘s, etc.

Education & training: learning program, training film, CD-ROMs, children‘s films, etc. In a society that promotes learning, self-help programs, on-line tutorials, Internet college classes, narrated textbooks, children‘s education films, and adult continuing education, training programs are increasingly popular. 

Internet: website presentation, museum self-guided tour, banner ad, interactive tour, on-line tutorial, etc. Internet voice over appears to be the largest and fastest growing sector of voice over. In fact, many voice over artists and production companies estimate that Internet audio totals one-quarter to one-half of their business. Types range from narrated banner ads, on-line tutorials, flash presentations, Welcome To Our Company‘ presentations, interactive self-guided tours of college campuses, museums, and parks, etc. 

Telephony: Telephony is any type of recorded voice over used for telephones. It is great because companies often re-hire the same voice over artist to update their system on a regular basis. The most popular styles or telephony are: ―Menu Prompt‖ systems prompt the user through a menu of choices, such as, ―Please press 1 for sales, 2 for repair, 3 to IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems allow the user to speak with the pre-recorded voice.

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