Choosing a good voiceover voice?

Never really understood the appeal of a blog but recently I was asked “what makes a good voice” a voice that is heard on the radio or with a voiceover. The person asking wanted an idea of the sort of voice that would suit their brand. As often is the case, they were saying how much they can’t stand the sound of their own voice and therefore they needed to hire one to best represent their marketing needs.
Hence my first blog!

So what makes a great voice? a voice that people enjoy listening to, a voice that people warm to and trust. Is there more to it than that? You might think that after 20 years of using my voice professionally, I would have the answer by now and truth is whilst I have some views on what people like and don’t like, they are just views. I can’t be sure for certain, but having been in radio presenting for some time, it does mean you get some very honest feedback from the public on what they like and what drives them to the off button.

So have a look at what I feel makes a good voice.
That voiceover tone that will engage your audience.

Travel thirty miles and you hear the change in accents around the UK. My home county of Suffolk, has the Ipswich accent, the Lowestoft accent and the two vary greatly and that is between just two towns, but what links any voice is warmth, a willingness for the audience to listen to what the speaker has to say.

How much better is customer service on the phone when the speaker sounds engaged, natural and interested in you.
Voices that smile and have clarity, whatever the accent is, are far more likely to connect than a voice that sounds cold and bored.
Warmth is surely the key battle line, It is these that best work on radio and voiceover .

Say this out loud: The dog has eaten the tax return…
Now say it but imagine a broad smile as you do….
The dog has eaten the tax return…
Sounded better?
Suggesting that even the most annoying news can be delivered in a style that is at the very least engaging.

Warmth then and a genuine friendliness, inquisitive and with a tone that can seamlessly change gear from the light to the serious and back again without sounding as if the car is jumping on the road….leaving the passengers holding on for the next pitch dive.

So when choosing a voiceover ? ask, does it match your company or product?
Would that firm of solicitors really sound that happy?
Why are they so pleased with themselves?
Do I trust them with my divorce?
So many questions and good enough reason to trial a few voices before picking the voiceover that is right for you.
Knowing your audience will be one of the best guides as to the sounds and tones that will resonate with them.
For some help or advice on voiceovers – please get in touch via the contact page and I will be happy to try and answer any questions.

First blog posted, may have to keep this up.

17 year old cat.

I’m writing about my cat, that in itself sounds as mad as one of those loving cat owners who talk to their cats, buy them a Christmas present and no doubt feed some wafer thin ham to their beloved moggy on the feline’s birthday.

Yes, this is me.
I have enjoyed the company of a cat from the age 9, the first cat in my life was White and of course he was called ‘Snowy’ Then came Thunder, with Storm the rabbit making an appearance with high kicks and a lunge for escape.
The rabbit was a right dullard, just froze when you picked it up and made everything honk.
Cats, of course, do often make many things honk but for some unknown reason, we forgive.
So a blog tribute to my 17-year old cat, who is the nerviest cat you will never meet. for that reason alone, I shall refer to the ‘shy cat’ as 17!
He has been through a heck of a lot, a Labour landslide, Diana in that car crash and of course George Osbourne and the austerity tax on ‘Dreamies.’
’17’ has today become our longest living cat, A feat that does bring out the worst in we cat owners, talk of converting cat years into human years, getting it wrong and making out ’17’ is older than Bruce Forsyth.
He (bits were removed very early on) has to be the most annoying, messy and frankly thick cat we have ever had, no understanding of good toilet behaviour with the litter box, just drop and dash.
His breath has been a paint stripper for years, his legs are weak and he is missing a tooth or 2.

Above all this benighted talk, he is and has been the most faithful of friends, from disaster to merrier times.
He has been featured on radio when I have been short on material, ’17’ was sure to have done something that would gain a giggle from a listener to the breakfast show.
When I was on air at a radio station in Suffolk, I told the story of the time I bought a new wok, it was a great wok that held promise of great foods.
One day returning from work, we discovered the wok on the hob with what looked like olive oil, thin olive oil.
It was sadly not extra virgin but the after affect of ’17’ somehow straddling a wok and relieving himself in it.
To this day, I have no idea how he did it or why but the wok remained untouched by human hand again.

Through the bottles of bleach, air freshener and thoughts of murder, he has made us laugh and given us total love and devotion.
We know he has little time left and the day that I have to take him to the vet will be a sorry day filled with tears but we know he has also been spoilt and loved in return. life without a cat would be life with fewer laughs, a rather more dull life.
It has been an honour to share time with ’17’ and as he screams for his Birthday wafer-thin ham. I say Happy Birthday ’17’ and thank you.

Next generation of radio presenters

So where will the next generation of radio presenters come from?

Back in 2010 when 32 radio stations across the UK. were closed and replaced with 15 regional services, I cared little for where the next generation of presenters would come from. It was a case if working out how/what was next, I was working at heart in Suffolk and heart Colchester in Essex, my market share beating that of both station’s.The afternoon presenters were emailed on June 21st whilst on air to say our shows would be networked by the end of the month, both stations would close. In the case of heart Suffolk, it was one of the first commercial stations to go on air outside London back in 1975. It started out as Radio Orwell, became SGRfm and then heart, it had been part of the area and people’s lives for thirty-five years. Being on air, reading you were out of a job was a lot to deal with but I like to think nobody listening would have noticed the panic in the mind.

The email explained that centres of excellence were the future and few of us had passed the mark of quality to attend. It was an easier spin than to say we are closing a number of successful stations to help us roll out a national brand and save costs. Few found work and those of us that did continue in radio wondered how our successors in the industry would ever find a way in. How would UK. radio evolve and was the future really just about TV bit part players moving into radio for a full-time gig?

Radio is full of doom merchants, when I started I remember thinking I hope I’m never like the “it was all so great back in the day.” brigade,  I’m not and there is no need to wave the white flag just yet but if your son or daughter announce they want to be a radio presenter… where do you point them? I’m not a fan of what community radio I have heard, it seems very middle class and too safe for raw talent to spread their wings and again from what I have seen of it, lacking much focus.

I suspect that internet radio is the best platform to try out your talent and learn on the job and will offer you more of a chance in getting that paid job.

Commercial local radio whilst sometimes shooting itself in the foot still has a massive audience and collectively is far larger than many network services, it is often looked down at by some within the BBC. I found the best presenters I ever worked with at the BBC had a commercial radio background. The pay in commercial radio is often bad, and you may well be doing the job of two but for some new presenter talent, it offers a chance to prove yourself and move within the industry.

BBC local radio is great if you want to work in journalism, it is less friendly to talented presenters who simply want to engage an audience with conversation, also the presenters tend to leave less often and the ‘vacancies sign’ is dusty. BBC local radio has seen a decline in recent years in share of audience, I fear that some within the network fail to recall that the BBC is loved not for the news headlines but the decades of entertainment it has provided.It remains the best for industry standards and I am a better presenter for my time on BBC local radio. It’s just that some editors are rather dull journalists and think news is everything. Some get it and you need to track them down! Be prepared to deal with news junkies and their brush off.

With more people than ever now switching some form of radio service on in the UK. radio needs you!, It will be tough and often you may feel that people with less talent than you are ignoring your demo and emails, but there are still ways in, I was lucky and luck is not something that only resides in the past. The next generation of presenters may well be better than the current crop as they will have fought like never before to get behind the microphone.

Good Luck, it will be worth it.