Reaching a Global Market with your Voice Over
English is a global language, with over 430 million people speaking it as their first language. But it is also the global business language, with estimates that 1 to 1.5 billion people speak English as their second language. To reach this audience, many of my corporate and commercial voice over clients produce media in English even if it isn’t specifically targeted to countries where English is the primary language. The way most people speak English around the world isn’t American. It isn’t British English either. So what is the alternative for an international sounding voice? There is the Neutral Accent English for Global Business Voice Over. But what is that? Let’s first examine what it is not, and then discuss what it is and when it is the right choice for your voice over.
Neutral Accent English: What it is Not
Many of my voice over colleagues in the US and UK dismiss the Neutral Accent as a non-existent myth: an affectation. They cite cheesy Americanized radio DJs in the UK, or the way movie stars and the elite spoke in the US in the first half of the 20th century. However, that is the Trans-Atlantic or Mid-Atlantic Accent. And my colleagues are right that it is an affectation. It relies on several characteristics that the Neutral Accent English voice do not have:
- A high register/pitched voice
- Dropped “R” sound (non-rhotic)
- Over-pronounced hard “T” sound
- Deliberate or conscious attempt to shift vowel placing from American to English RP (Received Pronunciation), even if not fully so.
Neutral Accent English in the Real World
Every day, Neutral Accent English is spoken by millions of people outside of the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. It is the accent of Global Business Voice Over. My German and French clients who are fluent in English speak it. Anyone from a country where English is not the native language, but learned it well, speaks it. They don’t try to sound American or British. It’s not possible, because Neutral Accent English has:
- A lower register/pitched voice
- Pronounced “R” sounds
- Neutral “T” sounds
- No deliberate attempt to adapt vowels or phrasing/song to American or British
So when is Neutral Accent English the right choice for your voice over? I’ll cite the reasons my clients give. First, when you want a voice that isn’t distinctively English or American. My German, French, and Scandinavian clients often request this voice. Second, when it is for an English Language channel in, for example, Amsterdam or Dubai. I have recorded commercials and corporate videos in both of those markets with Neutral Accent English. Finally, another good reason to chose such a voice would be for an international trade fair, international e-learning, or a commercial to air in multiple countries. A great resource for international English voice overs are bi-lingual voice talent. You can find some of them on my list of international voice over talent.
To hear my 60 second demo of voice over clips using Neutral Accent English press play below. Thank you for reading!