More Skills for Voiceover


Okay! So let’s talk about the non-commercial world; the ‘rest’ of voiceover if you like.

The good news is it’s the fastest growing sector in voiceover!  

Driven by the increase in websites using audio and video in their content marketing, there’s been an explosion of opportunities for voice actors.

In this blog I want to give you some information about where most of the work is in the 3 biggest areas of growth.

Just like the commercial world, reads are about mood, tone, energy, rhythm and pace. Most of the voiceover performance skills you need to get work in these areas are the same as for the commercial world.

However, the big difference between the commercial world and the non-broadcast world is that your audience is captive.

That is, whoever is watching, needs or wants to know the information.

The lion share of information is delivered via Explainer Videos, Corporate, Business, Industrial or Medical Videos and e-Learning and it’s those I want to talk about.

Techniques for approaching voiceover for non-broadcast scripts are still pretty much the same as for commercials.

You need to:

  • Understand your material.
  • Know who you’re talking to,
  • Know what the central message is
  • Know where the key words and key phrases appear, and
  • Know how you want your listener or viewer to respond

However, rather than something that’s ‘concept’ or ‘brand’ driven, quirky, minimalist or heavily stylized, such as what we’re used to on radio and screen (except in the case of Explainer Videos) your script will most often be a series of different pieces of information.

In the non-broadcast world that information is delivered in several different ways.

So let’s talk about what you could expect to be doing in that world, and the skills associated with that.

Explainer Videos

These are the videos you see on the home page of a website. They can look and sound much more like an ‘advertisement’ than a corporate message.

They’ve become increasingly popular with major national or multinational company’s, online stores and merchant sites, as well as small or local service-based businesses.

Their job is to ‘explain’ what the business, product or service is and how it can benefit the user or customer.

Many Explainer Videos use simple animation or scribe style, which is the style where only the key words appear on the screen.

Sometimes Explainers feature the owner of the business, staff, customers or even an actor, or they can be created with a montage of stills or video.

They’ll often be written with a problem/solution structure, very common in advertising. They’ll also be quite short, between 30 seconds and 2 minutes is the usual.

It’s considered that a 30 second Explainer is best, because statistically that length gets watched all the way through. There’s a drop off rate that increases the longer the video is.

If the writing makes good use of language and meaning, then 30 seconds that’s all you’d need. Waffling not encouraged!

Skill: Because Explainer Videos are structured more like an ad and often the copy is lean and clever, styles more like those we use in the commercial world are needed. Following the rules for finding key words and phrases apply, but the difference is, you don’t have to ‘sell’ or work as hard to get attention as you would for a ‘half-listening’ radio or television audience.

Your audience is right in front of you.

So, given that, read as though you are talking one-on-one with someone you really care about.

***Sounding as though you ‘care’ is the key to any successful read. We have to believe you’re interested in, if not passionate about, your subject material.

Corporate/Business or Medical Videos

Many large national or multinational companies, institutions and pubic utilities, have websites containing all manner of material that compliments their brand and builds their profile.

These can be in the form of history of the company or stories about what the company is currently achieving.  They could also be about products or services that need explaining in detail to potential or current customers.

Companies will deliver information – from what happens in your ‘Hip Replacement’ operation, to ‘how to lay decking’ – to customers or visitors to their site, or provide video for group information sessions. 

Skill: Information delivery can be tricky because it’s written in a way that’s unlike the way we speak naturally.  

Use the same techniques you would for any ‘announcer style’ information read. Break each different piece of information down into separate thoughts or ideas. Sometimes there can be more than two in a sentence, so really look at what the language is saying.

If the script is long, which they often are in this area, you really need to sound as though you know what you’re taking about.  Make sure you read the script thoroughly and note where words, phrases or similar information is delivered.  

Become skilled at working out what the most important information is, and learn how to adjust your pace, so that important stuff gets the attention (slow down a little) and the non-important stuff, you just say with very little emphasis.

Emphasis is really important in voiceover, but don’t forget, you can’t emphasis everything.

Choose the ‘power words or phrases’ in the script that tell what this is all about.


This is educational technology delivered digitally.

E-Learning literally means ‘electronic learning’ and it can be anything from a long-distance study course to in-class-room learning, or as part of your business or job training.

This area also also covers ‘how-to’ videos.  Almost all large companies and all institutions have an e-learning component in internal websites.

Skill: E-learning can mean the voice actor is narrating educational text and information, so you need to have excellent skills at sounding as though you know what you’re talking about.

You’re also giving a lot of information, so you need to take your time, especially between one piece of important information and another.

E-learning may also require you to use character voices. For instance an early learning program about the ecosystem of a swamp may need a narrator, as well as the frog, the snake, birds, the teacher and a child.

I hope this has helped you understand more about what goes on out there with the 3 biggest areas of work in voiceover in non-broadcast-land, and how to approach the work.

Creating a demo that reflects this kind of work is a sound idea (pardon the pun).

Demo samples, or sample reads on your website, can be a little longer than on a commercial demo.  Between 25 and 35 seconds is a good length.

So, if you feel you have the skills, go for it!

Happy Voiceovering!