Steven Lowell re-writes this blog from yesterday presenting 5 reasons why voice actors should be hired by big businesses to present webinars
After attending a webinar yesterday, one out of thousands I have attended in the last decade, I felt inspired to write this blog. Needless to say, the webinar was awful on so many levels I am not sure where to begin. It made me think as someone with a background in business and performing, “Really? That’s all they got?!”.
Perhaps, I am surprised when I my excitement for a webinar from a Fortune 500 business turns into an embarrassing fiasco of apologies and bad audio. The biggest companies in the world do things very wrong when presenting education in webinars and videos online, so wrong in fact, I think they should start hiring voice actors to present webinars for them.
Warning: You will sense a bit of “voice actor ego” in this blog.
5 Reasons Voice Actors Should Be Hired to Present Webinars for Big Businesses
1. Voice actors are perfectionists about sound quality. Bad audio is painful.
For goodness sakes, if your company is in the Forbes 500, could you not spare a couple hundred dollars for a voiceover mic and pop filter to do webinars? Voice talent buy this equipment every day to work as small businesses and for marketing, so can a company that is making $500 million a year.
A voice actor knows that when listening to audio from anything, even a webinar from a huge company’s CMO, if the first thing that kicks in is the muffled sound of pops and static, the misophonia kicks in. Hatred of the sound of a company rep’s voice is simply not good is a reflection on the company. There is no way around this. We tend to judge the professionalism of companies for many reasons, public image being one of them.
If you want great voices, great sound, and charismatic expression of a message, voice actors do that for a living.
2. They are not boring monotone speakers or speakers with an unpleasant voice
You may want your business to have a personality and identity. But when you talk about your company in a webinar is that message truly being communicated? Do you have the type of voice that puts people to sleep?
If you hate doing webinars or cannot find a way to show any personality while delivering a message, give the script to a voice actor. They may in fact be better at communicating what you were trying to get across. Don’t take it personally, too, if they are better at it. Some people, especially voice actors, are better at emotionally connecting with audiences.
Even more so, when dealing with strangers and trying to hold their attention, you have to “put on a show”. You have to care about what you are saying and show you believe in it. There is a level of excitement knowing that you will learn something from a very large company. Do not provide a buzzkill by boring listeners to death. (For example, do you know the type of nasal-voice that ends every sentence in the form of a question? Every sentence ends on the same note? It makes the presentation painful to the ears? Do you get my point? It’s like ear-drum piercing?)
3. Voice actors are better at improvising and sticking to the script, while sounding like experts
I know. Your company put so much effort putting that script for the video or webinar together! How can its brilliance be trusted with anyone else, but its creator?! A voice actor would have no idea what to do with it! Right?
Wrong. Unfortunately, listener behavior is not scripted. Voice actors know this. When a listener feels they are just going to hear a script, they immediately wonder, “Will I get a copy of this to view later?” and leave the webinar.
Voice actors keep things interesting by being able to improvise and show personality while delivering important information and can make it sound like its worth a million dollars. In addition, those who stick to the script may not be watching how much time they have been talking. A voice actor’s experience with radio shows may in fact serve a webinar because even if the content can be boring, the webinar does not have to be.
4. Videos: Voice actors understand why odd backgrounds, bad lighting, and people not dressed for camera is camera “unfriendly”
When I watch Google Ads videos uploaded I often think of two things:
1. Sheldon Cooper’s Fun With Flags
2. “What did these staff do wrong? Are making these videos a form of punishment?” (To their credit, they have been getting better lately)
I often find videos and webinars by voice talent and actors entertaining because they have a deeply rooted understanding of “showmanship” & “the fourth wall”. Online shows like EWABS or VO Buzz Weekly display the type of content many are hoping for when they create videos, but they may not be noticing things like bad lighting, partially obstructed brand names, or appearance.
Even when I look back at some of the videos I have made for interviews, the voice actors involved were always careful about “the image” they wanted to portray, even if it is a bit scrappy. “Scrappy on purpose” is much different than “unintentional scrappy”. Videos that are well done, for some reason, make a business look more professional.
5. Voice actors are better presenters and more familiar with podcast, webinar, video etc. tools and they don’t like to be unprepared
If you are a tech company that tests all your software, why stop at testing with your presentations?
Just yesterday, I tried to attend a webinar about social media ROI for a very popular website. The presenter spent the first 5 minutes talking, before realizing she was muted. Then, she had to call in from a phone, but when she did her headset mic created this awful feedback that neither presenter could stop. Eventually, 15 minutes later, the webinar got rolling. But by that point, the chat box for the webinar exploded with complaints, advice, requests for refunds, and snarky comments.
Voice actors, ever so careful to please an audience of listeners, would have worried about this beforehand and rehearsed. To them, they fear having sound equipment fail during a recording session. It is embarrassing, time is money, and money is freedom to keep being a voice talent, so they worry about details. They also know “credibility of the speaker” has as much to do with “presentation”, as it does “knowledge”.
Whether or not people say it, the expectation exists that when someone “presents” they will see something “interesting and charismatic”. Voice actors know this better than anyone.
Fun fact: While in college many years ago, a law school came to visit the theatre department to recruit actors. Whenever we are presenting anything, there is always an expectation that we will be watching a special show.
Your webinar should be a professional “show” hosted by a voice actor.
by Steven Lowell, Head of Business Development, Realtime Casting