By Chris Karel published March 14, 2017

How do I handle the narrator? Can I narrate?

If you are a marketing manager, training professional or business owner and you need to make a video, then this blog post is for you.

I always suggest using professional voice actors, also known as voice talent, voiceover artists, or VO talent. A seasoned pro brings years of practice and mastery that leads to a smooth, articulate recording that will elevate the perception of your brand.

Price, type of voice, auditions, and recording sessions are four things that most people ask about when hiring professional voice talent during a video production.

The hourly cost of professional voice talent ranges from hundreds to thousands. In our experience it depends upon the audience. Two conventions that are true more often than not:

  • Business-to-business voice rates can be much less than business-to-consumer.
  • Broadcast television is usually more expensive than online distribution.

I have worked with great professional voice talent at all budget levels. The key is to negotiate the rate before signing a contract. If you are still considering using an amateur, I urge caution. While using amateur talent may reduce up-front costs, you may end up spending more because of lengthy recording sessions, pronunciation issues, unnatural tone, lack of (or too much) enthusiasm, extensive editing, and additional recording sessions for revisions.

Type of voice
Think about the type of voice you will need in order to meet the needs of your audience. Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers so you are ready to share the information with your video producer. When you close your eyes and hear your content, is the voice:

  • Male or female?
  • Younger or older?
  • Conversational or formal?
  • Deep and profound or higher pitched and spunky?
  • Like broadcast news or accented to appeal to your audience?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you will have a set of parameters to share with your team and your video producer.

The audition process should begin with your script. Hearing your own words will help you make a decision better than just listening to a demo. I mean really, why hear a voice selling hamburgers if you sell metal fittings?

As your video producer, I will send your script (at least a portion of it) to the talent and ask them to create a short audition piece; 30-60 seconds is typical. I gather the auditions, provide our suggestions, and then send you a link that allows you to listen to them on your computer or even a mobile device. Share them with your team. Have someone outside of your company listen and give their opinion, like a spouse or a friend. Usually, preferences tend to focus on the same people.

Recording Session
Now that you have found the best voice, it is time to set up a recording session. Typically, top voice talent will have their own recording studio. The session can be completed remotely, over the phone, and most video scripts can be recorded in less than an hour.

You should be involved in the recording session!

This is your last chance to make minor adjustments to the content without incurring additional costs. By listening in, you can help direct the tone, pronunciation, and emphasis, which ensures you get the performance you want before the recorded audio makes it into the video. If you think there will be changes after the first recording session, make the producer aware so that VO revisions can be built into the budget.

Thank you for reading. We love feedback at Cinecraft Productions; it helps us grow. Have a comment? Email me: If you liked what you read, please subscribe.

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