New year … new me. Or something like that. Now that 2017 is in full effect, all the major industries are talking twenty seventeen trends. Whether it’s advertising, entertainment, tech or training—it’s all going to shape how and where us voice over types will be applying our voices in 2017.
After spending the first month of 2017 reading, reviewing, revisiting and reflecting, here’s my thoughts on what will shape voice over trends this year.
Trend 1: Conversational is oh so 2016.
This year I predict the demise of the ‘conversational’ read request. What?! Mel are you crazy? How could you think, let alone type, such a thing?
I can for two reasons:
Firstly, the rise and rise of the corporate explainer. As we continue to see a shift from traditional media advertising over to the countless online applications—corporate explainer-style videos will continue to dominate.
Whether it’s in a Facebook newsfeed, a sponsored Tweet, company website or YouTube channel (or all of the above), the explainer is the perfect corporate overview, product teaser or how-to. And what does an explainer need? A tone of professionalism. It needs to be informative, knowledgable and engaging.
Secondly, ‘conversational’ never really was what was the majority were requesting. I blame the fierce backlash against the projector-esque ‘announcer’ style of yesteryear. But we’ve put the pitch forks down, stopped setting crap on fire and realised conversational is a pretty ambiguous term (especially for scripts with only one part). Enter the ‘natural’, ‘relaxed’, even ‘non-announcer’ requests.
While the example below is not a voice over as such (it’s lifted from a talk by Dr Brené Brown), I’m including it because it’s a great example of a voice that’s confident, informative and knowledgable, yet still natural and engaging.
Stay on-trend: by practising relaxed style reads with distinct tones of ‘listen to me cause I’m a professional’. Remember, complex terminology needs to roll right off the tongue.
Trend 2: Finding the perfect advertising fit
The advertising times are a changing. The lines between traditional television and streaming media are blurring and audiences are becoming more and more fragmented. We’re also seeing a shift from traditional television and radio advertising to online, social, targeted ads.
For those sticking with TV and radio, ads are increasingly forming part of broader multichannel campaigns. Think commercials supported by social media campaigns, online videos and podcasts.
Recent research commissioned by Facebook indicates marketers who use Facebook to complement TV can extend audience reach and improve the reach efficiency of their campaigns. Sure it was commissioned by Facebook, but it does make sense given the incredible targeting the platform offers and the fact that we’re all guilty of multiple screen syndrome. TV on, tablet in lap, mobile in hand. Ah yes, my life.
Here’s some supporting stats for you data nerds:
For voice actors, this means opportunities to become a brand voice—with your tones appearing across multiple channels.
I love the voice of AAMI insurance. She’s used across television, Facebook, YouTube and even on-hold messaging:
Trend 3: Reading is out, listening is in
Voice over for entertainment is already a huge market and it’s set to grow further in 2017. Gaming and virtual and augmented reality—we’re keeping it anything but real. There’s some great voice over opportunities with this stuff.
However, I’m predicting the biggie in entertainment to be audiobooks. Let’s face it, we love to multitask when driving, working out or even working—and when it involves something entertaining, heck-to-the-yeah.
According to the folks at Edison Research, in the US, audiobooks have the highest growth rate of the digital publishing industry. As at last year, 43% of Americans aged 12+ had listened to an audiobook and those consumers are listening to, on average, 6.7 audiobooks per year.
Check out these killer audiobook voice over demos:
Stay on trend: by mastering storytelling skills and building up a bank of sustainable characters. Better yet, do some training with reputable coach. Take care of your voice and prepare appropriately for long voicing sessions. Consider outsourcing editing for super-long sessions (if you record in a home studio).
Trend 4: Assistants get a virtual overhaul
New technology is creating countless voice over opportunities. From smart everythings, to the Internet of Things right through to major advances in synthetic voices. We are talking to our devices, our cars and even our appliances. And they’re talking back!
Check out Alexa making friends with a bunch of home appliances …
Screen fatigue is also becoming a big issue. Enter the Audio User Interface. Also super-handy for those multitasking audiobook lovers. No more clicks, presses or swipes. Instead we’ll be barking orders at our computers. And they’ll be answering us back.
From an accessibility perspective, synthetic voices are giving voices to those who don’t have one. The amazing work of Rupal Patel reconstructs voices for people who can’t speak. VocaliD creates custom speech patterns that sound like the original person’s voice. Read more here.
Stay on trend: by channelling Siri, Cortana and Alexa. Be prepared for long, tedious voice sessions. As with audiobook voice overs, take care of your voice and consider outsourcing audio editing. And consider becoming a ‘donor’ voice for VocaliD.
Trend 5: eLearning is the new black. Again.
While eLearning is nothing new, it will continue to grow. For shifting business models like outposting, international employees, multinational franchises and collaborative consumption (think Uber), eLearning is the logical option for consistent, cost effective and on-demand training.
And the formats are evolving. Out with the CD-Roms and in with online training hubs, apps, podcasts and screencasts. Multi-device presentation provides a consistent experience on desktop, mobile or tablet. Wearable tech and virtual reality can teach in more emersive and engaging ways. And social learning provides a group learning, collaborative and supportive dynamic.
And for those visual and aural learners—here’s a neat little video summary of why eLearning continues to dominate:
Stay on trend: by tapping into any niche specialisations you have. If you were a medical student in a former life, get yourself out there as the medical eLearning voice. eLearning also opens up opportunities for international voice talent to provide translated product versions. Like explainers, you need to make terms sound simple and have an air of authority and professionalism.
What are your voice over predictions for the year? Leave a comment below.