Gender Preference in VO

by | Nov 30, 2016 | Analysis, VO Business | 1 comment

male_v_female_brain_heroYou’ve seen the audition requests for “African American Male”…or “British Dialect Female”.  Maybe the directions said “young urban sound”, or “gravely mature cowboy”.

So far, though, I haven’t seen a call for the voice of a “non-binary transgender youth” or other ominisexual terms in any specs, so for the purposes of this article I’m going to non-mysogynistically claim we’re still in the realm of male/female for the point I’m hoping to make.

…and it’s a point that looks dismal for men.

An article by Jefri Yonata in Business 2 Community examined a body of data that attempted to determine the preferred gender of voice for a certain style of delivery.  In almost every metric, the woman’s voice was preferred for explainer videos.

Admittedly, that is a narrow focus, but the analysis is revealing…especially as regards the two parameters they chose beyond gender:  professional vs. amateur.  Parsing that, non-professional VO women still ranked higher than professional VO men in voicing explainer videos.

I don’t know about you, but for this guy… that revelation is a bit depressing.

The operative terms for the study were the degree of trustworthiness and “attractiveness” in the voices being researched.

I’ve posted a link to the article below.  No reason for me to try to paraphrase.  You should really read it for all it says AND doesn’t say.

First of all, one must consider the source.  The article by Yonata was derived from data revealed on the Voice Bunny blog.  That doesn’t necessarily make it worthless, but I must admit that right there it put a chink in my trust of the data.  Still, what axe does VoiceBunny have to grind on this?  Not sure.

The take-away was that “…there is no clear-cut answer to which gender you should use for a voice-over because the question is heavily dependent on who your target audience is, and what kind of message there is to deliver.”

One of their other conclusions, though:

“A male voice-over is typically utilized for selling products that are aimed at male consumers, and a female voice-over is typically used for products aimed at female consumers.  Male voices are perceived to be more authoritative and commanding than female voices, and most of the time this is the only surefire win that male voice-overs have over female ones.”

—and—

“…the ultimate takeaway is when in doubt, use female voice-overs.”

Ugh.  Somedays, I wonder why I even try. I picked a bad era to be a white VO male, I guess.

What I’m REALLY interested in, is a study that examines what the heck a client means when they say: “conversational”.  I still maintain, even THEY don’t know what they want!

Here’s the link to: Male or Female Voice-Over: Why This Matters in Explainer Videos

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1 Comment

  1. Roxanne Coyne

    Hey, Dave. I was just talking with one of my clients yesterday afternoon. Most of his business is in the telephony field. He confirmed your observation. The bulk of the work in telephony is for women. I think that goes back to the early days of telephony when Susan Berkley was the voice of AT&T. Or maybe it goes back even farther to the days of the switchboard operators, which were generally women.

    But telephony and explainers are just two genres among many, many others. Can you think of other genres besides these two that favor women? I can name a few that have been dominated by men forever…..promos and documentaries to name just two!

    Reply

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