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Voices That Make You Vomit (A Scientific Guide to Voiceovers for Nonprofits, CSR and Cause Marketing)

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Voices That Make You Vomit (A Scientific Guide to Voiceovers for Nonprofits, CSR and Cause Marketing)


Cause Marketing, Nonprofit Marketing, CSR Marketing, Charity Marketing,

Remember Janice from friends?

I bet if you think for a second,  you can remember EXACTLY what she sounds like…?

Everyone can.

The strange thing about Janice is, she’s actually a pretty good person.

But everyone hates her.

It’s just..


But are we really so fickle in real life?

Would we arbitrarily judge somebody like that?

You and I?

No.  We’re good people.

But everyone else………

Let me give you an example:

‘’75% of people have been discouraged from purchasing a product because a voiceover annoyed or alienated them.’’


And why do we LOVE Morgan Freeman?

It’s complicated. And there’s no easy answer.

But voices tell us what to think. They help us decide if someone’s telling the truth;  whether or not we like that person; think they’re smart or stupid; annoying or funny; foolish or wise.

To name a few.

In short, hearing a voice helps us decide how much we’re willing to listen, trust and believe.

For this reason, finding the perfect voice actor almost always comes down to instinct.

But, it’s good to have some science for backup.

Here’s the science:




Around 80% of traditional voiceover work has been done by men. However the trend for the last four years has seen demand for female voices (24% increase) outstrip males (16%).

If things carry on the same way, demand for female voices will overtake males by 2025.

53% of consumers believe that a MALE voiceover would be the most effective for a product aimed at a male audience.

69% of consumers believe that a FEMALE voiceover would be the most effective for a product aimed at a female audience.

83% of consumers feel that an INFORMAL voice (chatty, laid back, conversational, communicates like friends and family) would be more relatable and persuasive than a formal voice.




While traditional English voiceovers continue to dominate the market, increasing demand for more localised / regional accents points towards people’s tendency to trust those who sound most similar to themselves.

Find out who your target audience is, and ensure your voice actor can form an emotional bond with that group.



In a similar vein, 78% of marketers said they tend to choose a voice actor who sounds the same age as their target demographic.

So the rule would be: if you’re targeting millennials – get a millennial voice actor.

Of course this isn’t set in stone.

Educational videos are best voiced by an authoritative-sounding elder.  And nappy adverts aren’t best voiced by babies.

But if you’re unsure, use this as a guide.



93% of people believe a human voice is more powerful than a computer-generated voice.





According to, the top 5 factors in deciding which voice artist to choose (in order of importance) are:

  1. Forms an emotional connection
  2. Adds personality
  3. Matches the brand voice
  4. Reflects the sound of the target market
  5. Sounds aspirational to the target market



Finish the first 10 seconds of your video’s visuals.

Ask two hundred voice actors to record the first line (95% will do this for free).

Add the music track.

Send the options round your team for feedback.

Take a vote and see who is most popular.

Choose the other one, because you’re in charge, and what the hell do they know?

READ: How to Ruin a Good Video: An Idiot’s Guide to Terrible Music

READ: 11 Killer Tools To Make Your Video Go Viral



Special thanks to for their research on this. If you’d like to find out more it’s well worth checking out their latest 2018 report Voiceover Trends in Marketing and Advertising.

Also check out Wyzowl’s Video Marketing Stats 2017

What’s your experience? Share your voiceover stories below:



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In 2006, Cady won an Oscar with his short film ONE-DAY TRIP (El Viaje). And his deep understanding of storytelling earned him a position as a regular judge for the for the Emmy Awards, New York Chapter.

He is a member of the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures (NBR) and also employed as a college professor in New York City teaching direction, production, editing and writing.