To Infinity And...Please Hold
Anyone else get that warm and fuzzy feeling of accomplishment whenever you complete something? Yeah, me too. Let’s share in that glorious feeling together as our VO-genre train pulls into its final platform of this journey—CHOO CHOO!
We’re wrapping up our discussions of voiceover genres this week, but our grander VO journey is just getting under way. There’s so much more to explore. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This blog is still about genre and, while it’s going to be a bit of a hodgepodge, I think it’ll be pretty interesting if I do say so myself (and this is my blog, after all—so I do!). There are still a couple of lesser-known categories of voiceover for us to touch on that don’t really fit into any of the other groups, nor are they particularly related to each other. The one thing they do have in common, at least in my mind, is their tendency to make people think, “Oh wow, I never would have thought of that!” in relation to working in the VO industry.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into the depths, uncover some rare gems, and land this plane once and for all! How’s that for a mixed metaphor?
Telephony may not be the most glamorous facet of working in VO, but it is a staple of the industry, and it can be a great way for new talent to get their feet wet and break in. As the name suggests, this genre has to do with telephone voiceovers. What are those? There are two main kinds of telephony voiceovers and, whether you realize it or not, you’re almost certainly very familiar with what these types of voiceovers are for.
The first kind of telephony VO is the message-on-hold (MOH). Now hold on a minute—no pun intended! I see you rolling your eyes in an “Oh, those” fashion. I trust all of us at one point or another in our lives have been put on hold when phoning a business. And, yes, I imagine there are very few people who would express delight at the prospect. (I’m being generous. Let’s be real, no one would ever express that.) But let’s think about the purpose of an MOH for just a moment.
Good MOH scripts are made up of several short messages focusing on the products, services, or benefits that a business can offer prospective clients. They are more than the dreaded, “Please stay on the line. A representative will be with you shortly.” The best MOHs are informative, engaging, and—dare I say—even enjoyable to listen to. Businesses that invest in quality MOHs do so for the sake of their customers. Sure, they want to keep a customer engrossed so they can make a sale, but they also know that customers are more likely to buy if they feel taken care of. Being on hold may never be fun, but would you rather hear a friendly, recorded message from an actual, real-life human being or a robotic, artificial-intelligence “voice” prompting your obedience to keep that phone to your ear while it subliminally wears away your soul? Too dramatic? I may be embellishing a bit, but in all seriousness, I feel more respected and honored as a customer when I know a business has gone through the trouble to make my interaction with them the best it can possibly be—even (and especially) in the nitty gritty details.
The other form of telephony VO is Interactive Voice Response (IVR). These are those automated phone systems that allow callers to access information that meets their specified needs via pre-recorded voice prompts. Think:
To learn why you’re so lonely, press 1
To receive some encouragement, press 2
To begin a new track of self-fulfillment, press 3
To be distracted while on that new track, press 4
To get back to the point, press 5
Y’know…that sort of thing.
Like messages-on-hold, IVR is probably not anyone’s idea of an exciting way to spend a Friday night, but, also like MOH, it signifies a level of investment and care on the part of a business to help make a potential customer’s experience as smooth and tailored to their needs as possible. And, if nothing else, that’s just good business.
As far as the VO side of things goes for telephony, it’s a fairly laid-back genre to work in. It doesn’t require an incredible amount of interpretation and this kind of gig likely won’t be too demanding of a voiceover artist’s time. As I said before, this can make telephony a safe place for up-and-coming talent to test their chops and get some experience.
Toys & Games
For my fellow parents reading this—first of all, may God bless and keep you; parenting is no walk in the park and you are a saint just for keeping the munchkins alive day by day—let me ask you a question? Does your child have a favorite toy? Does that toy require batteries? Do those batteries enable that toy to speak? If you answered “no,” you get a gold star for not being a sucker. If, like me, you answered “yes,” however, you have my deepest sympathy, and I will pray for you. Seriously, couldn’t they have given some of these toys just a few more phrases so I don’t have to hear the same three on repeat for hours on end?! *Deep breath* Okay, I’m cool, I’m cool.
Maddening repetition aside, that superhero action figure’s catchy catchphrases and those molar-achingly sweet lines from Princess Cotton-Candy-Sugar-Drop-Licorice-Stick’s voice box had to come from somewhere. Those are real voiceover artists lending their (oftentimes goofiest) voices to bring joy, engagement, and, yes, even education to your children. While voicing toys or games can require a great deal of stamina (imagine reciting the ABCs with an outrageous voice in varying inflections for 4 hours), it can also be a freeing opportunity for a voice artist to pull out all the stops and really go full throttle on their ridiculous side. It’s for the kids, folks. We can endure a little bit of crazy for our kids, right? Right?!
All right, telephony, check! Toys and games, check! Now there’s…wait a second…that’s all I’ve got. We did it! We made it! That about covers the wide range of voiceover genres available for voice talent to participate in. Now, this certainly hasn’t been an exhaustive overview of VO categories (even if it has seemed exhausting at times; sorry, not sorry)—there are surely things I missed, could’ve gone more in depth on, or am simply still unaware of myself at this point—but I think (maybe hope is a better word) it has been a helpful and informative introduction for those who may be new to the wild world of VO.
In any case, thanks for sticking with me as I’ve processed and learned alongside you. Honestly, this exercise has been great in helping me determine some areas of focus for my future pursuits! So, even if no one ever reads this, it’s still been beneficial! Oh yeah! *High five*
We may be through with our examination of VO genres, but there’s still a LOT of VO left to explore. Stay tuned next week as we switch gears and start investigating another fascinating aspect of this incredibly fun and incredibly rewarding line of work. As always, I want this journey to be one that engages you and addresses the things you want to know about. Help me help you and leave a comment or a question down below.
Until next time friends, keep telling stories!
__________________________________________________________________________________ How's your automated telephone service? Need any help on that new line of toys you're developing? I'd love to help tell your story! Request a quote or check out my Demos. I look forward to working with you! Tyler Robbert
Voiceover Artist | Storyteller | Professional Nerd
+1 269 370 3657