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Watch Your Tone! 5 Tips for Creating Compelling Audio & Video Content

You have scant seconds to capture an audience’s attention. It’s one thing to “hook” them with a clever headline. But what do you do when the hook is your voice?

The answer is found in tone and style. The message matters. But the delivery is equally important.

1. Be Recognizable

Listeners should know who is speaking within seconds of tuning in. They should recognize you by cadence, accent, or word choice. With audio and video, don’t assimilate. Be yourself. Let your voice shine through. It’s key to being recognizable.

It’s also key to being followed. Podcasters and vloggers develop loyal subscribers with both good content and a familiar voice. If you were to hear it elsewhere, you would think, “That’s so-and-so.” You look at the list of speakers. And you’re right. It’s your favorite audio or video producer.

2. Make it Pop

You can also use your voice to make the message “pop.” Consider Bud Light’s “Real Men of Genius.” The brand could have used any voice-over actors, but they chose Pete Stacker and David Bickler.

Why? The two men are sarcastic but relatable. When they speak, it’s like you’re being invited in on some great joke. You know the person they’re talking about or have at least heard local stories about him.


3. Go for Contrast

Sometimes, you need an opposing force. Sharpie’s spot “Prom Date” features Ezra Knight. His voice—a suave throwback to the svelte ‘seventies—is at odds with the topic presented.

That, of course, is the point. You’re more likely to remember Sharpie the next time you need to write a note. Ezra Knight’s voice is stuck in your head.

4. Use the Element of Surprise

Why do Visine’s commercials work? Or Office Depot’s “Henry”? The answer is found in the delivery. At times, you need a voice that exudes hyperbole or understatement.

Colter Rule’s monotone voice works in Visine’s favor. The same is true of “Henry.” Office Depot worked with Peter Thomas, a documentarian for brands like “National Geographic.” His dry sense of humor and flat tone of voice make Henry’s story not only believable but also enjoyably surprising.

Want tips on how to make your story stand out with visuals and video? Get a copy of our “A Roadmap to Multimedia Storytelling” e-book now!

5. Choose Your Voice

How can you use those devices in your own audio and video pieces? The answer is found in what you want to accomplish. Do you want to entertain? Inform? Both?

Now consider your audience. What tone of voice accomplishes your goal and reaches the audience at the same time? One demographic will respond better to someone like Thomas. Another may need a hip-hop artist.

Use voices that exist within your target demographic. They’re the ones that will capture attention, be immediately recognizable, and continually surprise and delight your consumers.

How are you using voice in your audio and video efforts? We’d love to know!

Looking to reach your always on-the-go audience with audio? Register for Kerry O’Shea Gorgone’s webinar to learn how to become a podcasting master!

Images: SaraEvan Forester (Creative Commons)

About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.

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