If you are looking to hire voiceover talent for medical narration there are some important questions to ask. Maybe you’ve found a voice actor whose medical demo sounds great, but can they deliver the same sound for you? What is the breadth and depth of their experience? Do they have their own broadcast quality studio, or will they record at an outside studio? Who will bear that expense? Who will edit the audio? Are they comfortable with long-form narrations or are they better with short projects of five minutes or less?
Along with listening to other samples of their work, there are some things you can do that will increase your odds of finding the right talent. On a side note, some Non-Disclosure Agreements prevent voice actors from posting their projects online, but sometimes they can share a private link.
7 Tips on Hiring Voiceover Talent for Medical Narration
Well done! If you’re reading this you already know the value of hiring professional voice talent, the importance of quality audio, and the impact an excellent performance has on you and your audience. However, did you know that not all voiceover actors are adept at medical narration?
- Medical narration requires specific skills, training, and experience
- Having a medical demo to showcase one’s work is a must
- Some talent say they can perform any genre of VoiceOver, but in the recording session they might take 2-3 times longer than an expert medical narrator
Without the help of a professional, the talent may embarrass themselves, you, and your client. They could also cost the studio, audio engineer, you and your client more time and money. So, how do you avoid the hassle, the aggravation, and the extra costs to select the best VO artist. Particularly if you’re looking to hire for a unique niche such as medical Mechanism of Action (MOD), Mechanism of Disease (MOD), MedEd, Pharma or MedLegal project?
One: Check the voice actor’s website for ample quantity and high quality
VoiceOver audio samples and medical video samples of their medical narration work. Pay attention to details like pronunciation, articulation, modulation of energy, and tone to create interest and expressiveness. Are these qualities present? Establish this baseline, then go further.
Two: Ask for a recommendation from a trusted source
It can be a fellow colleague at your firm or a competing firm. Even a voice actor whose work you know and trust to recommend a colleague with medical narration expertise. You can even ask a VoiceOver talent, whose work you know and trust, to recommend a colleague who specializes in medical narration. We are a convivial community and often recommend our colleagues for the right job. Go the extra mile to proceed with confidence.
Three: Ask for references
A true VO professional comes prepared to make your job easier and help your project shine! When chatting with the voice actor’s previous clients ask: How well did they take directions? Did they meet or beat their deadline? How well did they communicate throughout the project? Did they ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of your goals? Did they catch any errors if they existed? Were they an asset to have on your team? The difference between good and great is immeasurable.
Request a sample of your text including difficult words (be kind and provide directions for tone, tempo and pronunciations!) Is their read in the ballpark? Do they basically get what you’re going after? Tweaking is easy. Major reconstruction is not.
Four: How does the voice actor prepare?
By its very nature, medical content can be intellectually challenging, requiring someone who’ll roll up their sleeves to understand the topic. Repeated reviewing and rehearsing of the script is mandatory, so questions for pronunciations, syntax, or meaning get addressed in advance and the session goes smoothly and quickly, regardless of who’s directing the session. Ask the voiceover talent to explain their workflow process. How they prepare will speak volumes about what to expect in the session.
Five: Does your voice actor have legs?
Is the voice actor a full-time, well-established talent or are they moonlighting? Are they able to turn your project around quickly? Science and statistics often get updated, and revisions are needed months or years after the recording session has been completed. Will that person be around? Nothing is guaranteed in life, but it’s nice to safely assume that person will be around if you need them in the future.
Six: Do a rapid test run
Schedule a call in advance with the engineer and talent to do an audio test making sure the connection and quality of the sound in their recording environment is great. This only takes 5 minutes! And it greases the wheel for the session, allowing the talent and engineer (or director) to chat about how the session will flow in advance of having the client on the line. This is worth its weight in gold.
Seven: What are their studio capabilities?
Many pro talents had quality studios before Covid hit, but everyone had to have some kind of studio once the pandemic settled in. Not all studios are created equally! Ask the talent about their Voiceover studio gear (microphone, recording environment, DAW, audio interface) and connection capabilities. For example:
- There are a million mics on the market, how do you know about the one your talent has? To be a working vo talent one doesn’t have to have a Neumann U87 at $3k, but, you don’t want them recording with a $50 Snowball mic either. Starting out, most VoiceOver talents don’t buy the most expensive mic— they don’t need to and I didn’t either 20 years ago. But a seasoned pro upgrades their gear as their career/skill/talent/business progresses. Common gold standards of mics that talent and studios work with are the Sennheiser 416 and the Neumann TLM 103, for example.
- What kind of recording environment does your VoiceOver talent have? This is even more important than the microphone. Do they have a real recording booth (which is great), a treated closet (which can be great), or is it in an open area of a room (where there will be many problems, not the least of which is an echoey- sound)? In a sub-par recording environment, the most expensive microphone will not produce broadcast-quality audio. Conversely, an excellent recording environment will create quality sound with even a $100 microphone.
- Don’t deliberate on the DAW! The digital audio workstation (DAW) is a software program used for composing, producing, recording, mixing and editing audio and MIDI. Which one is used isn’t particularly important because they all record equally. The difference between the various kinds (Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Audacity, Logic, Twisted Wave, add more?), has more to do with editing and mixing features. If they are working with GarageBand that’s a clear indication that they are entry-level voice actors.
- Audio Interfaces. Like microphones, the price range for this gear is huge. You could spend $100 or $10,000. The pro audio engineers can tell the difference. I bought a high-quality Sound Devices USB Pre 2 (about $1,000) which, like me, is a workhorse. We have been very happy together. 🙂
- Clear Connections. Since Covid, all talent is working from home and those who weren’t tech-savvy needed a crash course in setting up Source Connect, ipDTL, ZenCstr, Zoom, Teams, ISDN, and other platforms to include you/your client(s) in the recording session.
- Finding out what studio capabilities your VoiceOver candidate has will give you an indication of where they are in their career. What it will not tell you is if they are talented, can take direction well, are comfortable with tongue-twisting terminology, complicated text, technical information, and whether or not they do their homework to prepare for your session. That’s where a referral is invaluable.
If you’re ever looking for a voice and I’m not the best choice for your project, contact me and I’ll help you find a terrific option from my expansive network of diverse, professional talents.
Summary of How to Hire Voiceover Talent for Medical Narration
- Do Your Due Diligence — check them out online
- Get Referrals of Vetted Talent
- Chat with Talent’s References
- Sample the Goods
- Preparation is Paramount
- Dry Run – Dress Rehearsal
- Tech Savvy
Congratulations! If you’re reading this you already know the value of hiring a professional voice talent the importance of the technical quality of the audio, and the impact an excellent performance has when it engages you and your audience. But, did you know that not all voiceover actors are adept in all areas of VO? So, how do you choose which person to hire?
Here are 5 Critical Factors to Consider:
1. Know Your Audience
Who are your listeners and what’s the best way to reach their ears? Do they want to hear from a man or woman? Someone mature or youthful? Someone with a regional accent, or if the audience is global, a non-accented American or British accent? If English is a second language, an articulate voice will be understandable by most of your listeners.
Did you know there’s a common condition called presbycusis, which affects older people and prevents them from hearing higher pitch ranges? This phenomenon would suggest choosing a voiceover artist with a deeper pitch (male or female) to ensure that your key messages are clearly heard.
2. Know Your Voice Talent
You’ve found a voice actor whose medical demo sounds great, but can they deliver the same sound for you? How deep is their experience? Do they have their own broadcast quality studio, or will they record at an outside studio? Who will bear that expense? Who will edit the audio? Are they comfortable with long-form narrations or are they better with short projects (5 minutes or less)? Listen to other samples of their work. Pay attention to details like pronunciation, articulation, modulation of energy, and tone to create interest and expressiveness— are these qualities present? Side Note: NDAs- Non-Disclosure Agreements- often prevent voice actors from posting their projects online, but sometimes they can share a private link.
3. Check Voice Talent References
Ask for references because a VO professional comes prepared to make your job easier and help your project shine! Ask how well they took directions? If they met or beat their deadlines. How well do they communicate throughout the project? Did they edit the text if needed and catch errors if they existed?
4. Preparation is Paramount
How does the voice actor prepare? By its very nature, medical content can be intellectually challenging, requiring someone who’ll roll up their sleeves to understand your project. Repeated reviewing and rehearsing of the script is mandatory, so questions for pronunciations, syntax, or meaning get addressed in advance and the session goes smoothly and quickly, regardless of who’s directing the session. Ask the voiceover talent to explain their workflow process.
5. Voice Talent Longevity
Is the voice actor a full-time, well-established talent or are they moonlighting? Are they able to turn your project around quickly? Science and statistics often get updated, and revisions are needed months or years after the recording session has been completed. Will that person be around? In my next article, I’ll explain the process of working with voice talent and give you some tips on how to direct them when it comes to voicing technical content—be it medical, legal, corporate, governmental, or IT (information technology).