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    What can US presidents teach us about voice-over?

    As voice over artists we all know how important our voice is for determining how people feel about a product, a service, a company, or a topic we are talking about. How we use our voice in our everyday lives, when we are not working, is also a major factor on how people perceive the way we are and respond to us.

    The power of voice is all around us and never more so when it comes to being a leader. The US president for example, often described as the leader of the free world, needs to use their voice to reflect the mood of the time and to be able to convey the message they are delivering in a way that will resonate across a worldwide audience.

    How a US president uses their voice is under constant scrutiny because of the media spotlight that they operate in. Put a foot wrong and we will all know about it. You only have to see some of the video clips of some of the gaffes that George Bush made during his career to find that out!

    So, as VO artists, is there anything we can learn about how t   he most high profile leader on the planet uses their voice to make their message heard?

    Let’s take a quick look at 4 US presidents from the past and now:

    Roosevelt – The abiding memory of Roosevelt’s voice was very paternal and calming. During the Great Depression and the Second World War Roosevelt had to become a father figure for the American people and the way he projected his voice reflected this. He needed to be a man you could trust and a man who could keep the ship steady during turbulent times. The tone and rhythm of his voice conveyed this.


    Kennedy – The 1960s was seen as a time of great freedom and optimism. The world was changing, American was becoming more prosperous and social norms were being challenged. The way Kennedy used his voice reflected this new vision. He was seen as a youthful, energetic and charismatic speaker who reflected the mood of the time. Sadly his assassination in 1963 was a tragic ending to the vision that he had.


    Clinton – Clinton’s voice had a ‘man on the street’ type quality to it which made him popular across a broad audience. He was probably one of the first presidents to bring a conversation style to his delivery which made him a more empathetic and approachable leader, a man of the people so to speak.


    Obama – Obama is renowned for using illustrative stories, memorable messages and inclusive language when he is delivering a speech. He uses his voice to build trust, create universal appeal and then hone in on the key message.


    Fortunately the way we use our voice will never be scrutinised as much as a president’s voice but maybe there are things that we can learn! Depending on the job we are doing we all from time to time have to be energetic, sound optimistic, be conversational, convey trust, be inclusive and hone in on the key message – that’s what voice over is all about. Should we aspire to be presidential in our delivery!?

    What do you think? What other world leaders inspire you when it comes to how they use their voice? It would be good to hear your thoughts.



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    One Comment

    1. Angus
      December 22, 2014

      Can’t agree more. Although some of the greatest voices of leaders of the past were unique voices. For example Adolf Hitler; he was not a great leader and undoubtedly a few screws loose but he had a voice that mesmerised millions: Winston Churchill had the perfect voice for the perfect time. Both of them had unique voices, not taught by any drama or voice school.


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