For years, the “announcer voice” was the go-to for commercials, televised events, radio ads, and of course movie trailers. You know the voice: deep, clear, almost inhuman, but authoritative. When an announcer voice showed up you knew to pay attention because, well, you didn’t have much of a choice with that booming voice going on.
Now, you don’t hear the announcer voice too much. It’s fallen to the wayside in favor of other types of voiceovers, particularly the conversational tone. If you’ve ever wondered why that might be, keep reading to find out!
How Did Announcer Voice Start?
Announcer voice makes a lot of sense on paper. If you’re trying to be heard, talking in a loud and overpowering voice ensures that people will listen and put some sort of priority on your voice. If we go way back to the days of town criers, newspaper boys, and circus announcers, the voice makes a lot of sense as the speaker is trying to get their message out over the sounds of a crowd.
The exact origins of announcer voice aren’t well known, but the trend seems to go a long way back. The Mid-Atlantic accent is one place to look. It is a blended English and American accent used by actors in the early 20th century for its mixture of poshness and accessibility.
This made up accent became the norm in many films, used by people such as Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. From there it became desirable and was taught to aspiring actors in schools. Now, it seems the industry wants nothing to do with it.
Move Aside, Announcer Voice
One problem with the announcer voice is its tone, often described as “parent-child” read. When someone talks in an announcer voice they’re placing themselves above you, telling you what you should think about something, and demanding that you listen to them. This worked fine in the beginning, but now it comes off as condescending and untrustable.
Nobody likes to be talked at, which is the main reason that announcer voice has died. Another reason is that the announcer voice saps all humanity out of the speaker.
If you’ve heard any number of movie trailers from the 90s and before, you’ll notice that all the announcers sound nearly identical. The voice ends up being cast in our minds as being “corporate” and “cold”, like some sort of company robot. Humans identify more with other human voices and respond better to a more conversational tone rather than one that’s not only telling us how to think but telling us how to think in a strange voice.
Some companies still choose to go with a more conventional narrator, such as car commercials, and even a lot of radio ads for things like furniture stores. These companies may be following an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality or may be paying homage to these old-school narrators that once dominated the field. There’s a certain nostalgic quality to hearing a booming narrator now that will work for some people.
The Rise of Conversational Speech
Nowadays, people want an announcer or narrator that they can relate to. People don’t want someone whose voice is stiff, overly-rehearsed, and booming like those radio announcers of old. Instead, they want someone they can imagine having a conversation with, and maybe a little jingle to top it all off.
These more approachable and conversational announcers are sometimes known as non-announcer announcers. They’re a lot easier for a listener to connect with, and much more approachable. When the announcer speaks like an actual human, it makes the listener feel less like they’re being advertised to or told what to do, and more like they’re being informed or spoken to by a person rather than some machine.
The two things a company should strive for in advertising is trustability and relatability, and a non-announcer voice makes this much easier.
How to Talk Conversationally
While the announcer voice is commonly referred to as parent-child read, the more conversational side can be referred to as peer-to-peer. The perfect voice-over actor will sound like they’re speaking to a peer and telling them about something. Keep the voice and tone relaxed, don’t use words that are too fancy or “industry deep”, and above all else don’t come across as condescending.
The conversational announcer is still able to speak loud and clear without sacrificing the conversational tone. They can use simple, relatable language and allow subjectivity into their delivery. As a voice-over actor, don’t tell the listener what they should be thinking, rather tell them what you think about a product you’re announcing, as if you’ve tried it yourself.
Put some emotion in your speech and try to relate with the listener, don’t try and sell to them so explicitly.
The last thing people want now is an announcer that sounds like they’re reading from a script. This is unavoidable at times, but the more the voice sounds like real human speech — being made up on the go — the more the listener will be able to relate. Script-read announcing just brings people back to the corporate robot and makes them all-too-aware they’re being advertised to.
The announcer voice is dead, and it probably won’t be coming back any time soon. Times change and so do peoples’ preferences. Nobody wants to be talked at by their television sets or radios anymore.
People want deeper connections and trustable announcers behind their products. Using a conversational tone is the best way to achieve this.
If you’re looking to hire a voice actor, check out our product page and find out how you can do just that. Feel free to contact us with any comments or concerns.