11 Tips for Writing and Recording Great Voice-Over Narration

Voice-over narration is a vital component of many types of videos, especially those videos where you don’t want to show your face on-camera.

Voice-over narration serves several powerful video-storytelling functions:

  • Quickly set up background information
  • Establish mood and tone
  • Transition from one part of your video to another
  • Focus or emphasize key elements of your information
  • Amplify and clarify the visuals

Writing High-Quality Voice-Over Narration

Here are a 7 tips for writing effective voice-over narration:

  1. Keep the tone straightforward and conversational. Imagine you’re writing for a good friend
  2. Write for the ear. Keep the language simple, active and immediately understandable
  3. Give your narration impact by placing the most important, or compelling information at the beginning, or end of the sentence
  4. Don’t describe the obvious. Don’t describe what we can clearly see and understand for ourselves. Instead, amplify and explain what the picture doesn’t show
  5. When combining narration with guest interviews, keep the narration factual and let the guest interviews provide the emotion
  6. Read your narration out loud to test for clarity and flow
  7. Mark your script. Underline key words and phrases, so you can emphasize them during recording. Giving key words and phrases emphasis or “punch” will help make your delivery more dynamic and interesting. Punching key words will also help the viewer understand the information

Recording High-Quality Voice-Over Narration

Now, let’s look at 4 techniques for recording high-quality voice-overs:

  1. Avoid consuming dairy products before recording. Dairy produces a lot of unwanted phlegm and mucus in the throat.
  2. Keep your mouth about 4-6 inches away from the microphone. This distance will give you a strong, present sound, while helping to cancel out any background noise.
  3. Use a microphone pop filter to minimize the annoying “pops” or plosive sounds you get with the consonants p, t, k, b, d, and g.
  4. Set your microphone level properly. You want the microphone input signal to peak at around 75% to 80% on the input signal meter – to give you a strong, but undistorted signal

Effective voice-over narration is clear and compact. Say enough to make your point and then move on. And whenever possible, let the pictures do the talking.

*Below is my go-to microphone for recording high-quality voice-overs:

Michael Kinney

Michael is an award-winning media creator with 30 years of professional video production experience. He's written, produced, directed, hosted, recorded, and edited a variety of media projects - from TV documentaries to interactive learning.

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