Narration: When It Works

To Narrate or Not to Narrate: What Types of Videos Work Best With Narration?

Narration:  When It Works Narration can be very impactful. It can help move the story along, and provide supplementary information. Alternatively, narration can also be the key source of content, in which case it becomes one of the most salient aspects of the video. Yet while good narration can provide these benefits, sometimes narration can make the video seem distant from the content at hand. Here are a few tips on when narration is best used, and when an alternative should be looked into.

Orientation/Training Videos: These types of videos are the perfect example of when narration is at it’s most useful. Most companies don’t want to break the bank when producing a orientation or training video. So instead of hiring costly talent, or utilizing employees with no acting ability, you can turn to a professional and cost effective voice-over artist to narrate. The information will thus be laid out for the viewer in a straightforward manner, with the narration providing the key content, and the visuals providing supplementary cues.

Brand Videos: This can range from promotional videos highlighting products and services, to commercials, website videos etc. These type of videos can range significantly. In certain situations companies want to hire a celebrity or activist to represent their product or service. In those cases having a face is a benefit, as it associates their product or service with that individual. However, as you will see with endless examples online and on television, that is not the only style. Many brand videos utilize narration as a way to quickly and efficiently tell their audience what is great about their product/service, and then visually showcase something to go along with the narration. In this way, narration can be, and is, a very effective tool.

Internal Videos: Videos which are directed to an internal audience within a company can utilize narration. However, this is a good case to explain how narration can sometimes be lackluster, and counteract what the point of the video itself is. An internal video is a way to express something to the staff, and create a more inclusive work environment. By putting a face to the content, that of a senior executive, or even allowing lower level management to share their voice, it can create a much more authentic and representational video. Although narration may be used in some part, it is a good idea not to utilize it throughout the entire video, as the idea of creating a face for the company is at the core of any good internal video.

Ellen Friedland in an article on Reel Marketer details the questions one should ask oneself before deciding that narration would be useful for your corporate video.

  1. Who is the ultimate audience, and what will their reactions be to the different approaches?
  2. What category of video is involved, and which alternative makes the most sense in terms of getting across the point for which the production is being created?
  3. If a decision is made to use a narrator, what type of voice (e.g., male/female, young/old) would be most appealing to the intended audience? Whatever the determination regarding this point, a narrator with professional voiceover training will provide a significantly better read, ensuring good and even pronunciation, than someone without experience or lessons.
  4. If a decision is made not to use a narrator, is the interviewer prepared to ensure that responses are stated in ways that can be used in the final product?

What are your thoughts on narration? Do you find yourself paying more attention to a video when you can see the visual references clearly and narration is used to provide the key content? Or do you prefer seeing a face? Let us know your thoughts!