How Voice Influences Emotion: 1 Video, 6 Voices
What role does voice play in eliciting emotion?
Voices is the ultimate destination for companies looking to find the right voice to bring their next project to life. Through years of experience in the industry, we’ve learned that voice over rarely lingers in the background as a secondary component of a media project, nor does it serve as a mere expository element to clear up what’s happening in an ad or story. In many cases, voice is used as the central feature driving the message of a project.
Harnessing the emotive power of voice is one of the most effective ways to convey a message. The sound of the human voice always carries intent and meaning with it. In this article published by Euphony, Inc., the text to speech company highlights the fact that every audience “automatically makes judgments from the sound of your voice. They assess your attitude, your sincerity, your credibility and your motives. In turn, your voice affects how they respond to your message and the overall outcome from the exchange.”
We wanted to explore how voice over influences emotion—not within an everyday interaction, but in the context of a commercial. So, we penned an original script for an explainer video demonstrating a productivity app that helps its users strike a work-life balance. (Read the full script here.) This software was conceived to reflect the sort of lifestyle apps that you’ll regularly see advertised in today’s market.
We compiled a montage of stock footage for an internet video advertising the fictional app, then posted the job on our platform to find six different voice actors who could perform script reads for our experiment. We had our voices in no time.
In order to really hone in on the role voice over plays in a narrated commercial, we purposefully sought out actors with vocal qualities that would most contrast with one another. The aim of this was to prove how a single product can be advertised in a variety of ways depending on the voice promoting it.
Take a look at (and listen to) our finished project:
Posh British Female
Accents possess a special appeal to listeners. In fact, it has been found that “people are drawn to certain accents because of the cultural associations we have with them — for instance, the perception that a British-English accent like ‘RP’ is posh and upscale.” To test how this highly coveted accent impacted our commercial, we decided to hire a female voice actor to read in a British Received Pronunciation accent.
The British narration instantly adorns the commercial with a posh, upscale sensibility that elevates its level of refinement more than many other, unaccented styles of voice over would. At the same time, while the cultural connotations provided by the voice may cause the lifestyle app to feel classy and aspirational, it may have also left it seeming inaccessible to a certain audience.
In order to contrast with the British RP accent, we swerved to the opposite end of the spectrum by casting a man to contribute a US General American read. As opposed to the upscale qualities provided by the British voice, the gravelly attributes of this Construction Worker-like performance changed the demographic of the product entirely, causing the app to appear more targeted toward a general laborer.
For our next set of contrasts, we first sought out the voice of a Girl Next Door. She brought a youthful naivety to the script read, and made the app seem fun, vibrant, and ideal for young audiences.
The grandmother read imbued our advertisement with an air of warmth and maturity. While the Girl Next Door narration perhaps framed the app as a tool that the character used to juggle her busy social schedule, the Grandmother‘s voice brings wisdom and even a sense of reflectiveness to the ad.
As we produced the commercial for this invented app, we had the sense that a casual, relatable read would likely be most beneficial for marketing it to a relevant audience, compared with an artificial, over-the-top delivery. That being said, it was fun to apply a traditional Announcer style voice to the project, and witness it naturally adopt the tone of a traditional movie trailer or vintage radio ad.
The voice was almost asynchronous for this contemporary form of internet video, but it also gave the app an aura of being a grand, newsworthy event, and presented it as if it were an enormous deal that everybody should stop what they’re doing and pay attention to.
Guy Next Door
The voice of a Guy Next Door, in contrast with the Announcer, brought more of an authentic, conversational tone to the ad.
Intended to mimic a speaker like Justin Long’s portrayal of Mac in the iconic ‘Get a Mac’ ads, the Guy Next Door voice over caused the product to seem fit for the average Joe—not beyond one’s reach, not containing too many bells and whistles, with elements that could appeal to a wide audience.
According to Voices 2022 Annual Trends Report, ‘authentic’ style reads like the ‘Girl and Guy Next Door’ are still in demand for many advertising campaigns.
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How did you find the above voices impacted the overall emotion of the commercial? Which voice would you cast to bring your commercial to life? Let us know in the comments!