Voiceover for Explainer Video: A Guide for Creators

A voiceover is an important part of most explainer videos. We have cast many voiceover artists across TV, radio, and online video over the years and we also operated an online voiceover marketplace. We’ve been active in the industry, speaking at conferences and presenting to ad agencies. And so, given the rise of online video, we thought it was about time to write a handy blog post for video creators about voiceover for an explainer video.


How does a Voice Artist Look?

Well, like this.

Andy Barnett is a voiceover for explainer video

Meet Andy Barnett. We’ve worked with Andy plenty of times. He’s a talented guy and has been a VO since 2011. He loves VO work because of the flexibility that comes with it and the fact that he gets to play behind the microphone every day. He has provided some insights for this article from a voiceover perspective. We’ll get to that later.


Decide on your Needs

The first step is to do a bit of planning about what voice you need. Who is your target audience? What’s your brand identity, e.g. fun, reliable, or confident? Do you need a young, middle-aged, or older voice? Your video production agency will help with this. Considering these factors upfront helps ensure that the casting goes smoothly and you get the right sort of talent to audition.


Voiceover for Explainer Video: The Process

The process of recording a voiceover for an explainer video typically goes as follows. The video production agency will do a casting using your script. Voiceover artists provide a short demo pitch. If your video agency is doing its job they’ll review the demos and propose one or more options for you based on their experience. Once an artist is chosen they will do a full read of the script. There may be one or more corrections/re-reads. This is sufficient 99% of the time if you’re working with a pro. You should expect to be charged if you want additional changes beyond that or if you change the script at any time. You can also request to have a phone session to direct the voiceover, though there is usually a cost for that.

Voiceover for Explainer Video


Where to find a Voiceover

It’s really easy to find voice talent. But the trick is more in the care and attention that is given in casting, selecting, and directing. You can search on Voices.com or Voices123.com to find voices. Agencies will often keep their own lists of talent. It helps to ensure quality when you’re working with proven professionals who’ll nail the read the first or second time around and be responsive to requests. You also want someone who’ll still be around in the future if you ever need to edit your video.


What Accent to Choose?

There’s really no point in choosing an accent that will distract from your message and worse still, be difficult to understand. It can be really cool to use interesting accents for some videos but for the most part, we think it’s best to choose an accent in line with that of your audience.


Is a Male or Female Voiceover Best?

Don’t go all gender stereotyping here. This decision is best based on the merits of the artist and the creative vision of the video. If your audience is say, male, it’s not necessarily true that a male voice is better. Similarly, for a female audience a rich baritone can make a good contrast, depending on the video and messaging. It is often said that a male voice is good to express authority and a female voice is more caring. Hmm, yeah maybe, but not always and a lot depends on the execution. Also, keep in mind that if you always go with the flow and “conventional wisdom” you may end up with a formulaic video. Gasp!


How much does a Voiceover Cost?

Voiceover rates in general can be a bit confusing. The rate will often depend on where you will use the video, e.g. broadcast on TV/radio, documentary, or online. You need an explainer video just to explain it all! Here’s quite a good cost breakdown that will give you an idea. With an explainer video, it’s mostly pretty simple though – it’s classified as online use and will set you back around $200-$350 depending on the artist. It will be more if you need extra edits or for specialized work like sync jobs.


Tips to make it Sound Good

It all starts with a good script. See our article on script writing. There are a few things you can do with your script to make the result sound better.

  1. Keep the timing natural. Don’t try to cram in too much info.
  2. Be simple & direct. Convoluted writing may seem “thoughtful” on paper but sounds very dull.
  3. Don’t repeat stuff. Any whiff of the similar is picked up by the ear quickly.
  4. Show it in the visuals. Not everything needs to be said.

It’s also a good idea to provide phonetic spelling or notes for any technical terms or preferred pronunciation. Just a simple example could be your company name – there are plenty of tech startups with names that can be pronounced in different ways!

Tips for voiceover in explainer video

Our friendly voiceover Andy also had this to add:

Voiceover for Explainer Video


Explainer Videos without Voiceover

There are some really cool videos out there that don’t use a voiceover. This can also be good if you have an international audience and don’t want to choose a specific accent. Here are a few we made.

In this first example the animated transitions and typography tell the story.

In the next example the functionality was shown rather than spoken about. The messaging was kept deliberately simple.


Final word

A good voiceover can really add life to your explainer video. So make sure you nail it!