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Neutral Accent English for Global Business Voice Over

Neutral Accent English for Global Business Voice Over

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!

International Voice Over Production with Audiovisual Intelligence

International Voice Over Production with Audiovisual Intelligence

International Voice Over Production with Audiovisual Intelligence

I recently had the pleasure of discussing International Voice Over Production with Audiovisual Intelligence chief, Alex Jacobi. His company has two main studios: one in Dusseldorf, and their headquarters in Aachen, Germany. The studios feature a growing staff of 27 media experts. He founded the company over ten years ago when he made the switch from being a music producer to producing sound for commercial work. He realized that he would need a reliable roster of voice over talent for the amount of corporate video work he was producing. As a result, he decided to create a web tool for that, and sprechersprecher.de was born.

Today they are the largest voice casting company in Germany with a vast international scope. AI features over 12,000 voice over talents in over 40 languages. Along with sprechersprecher.de, Audiovisual Intelligence also has an online presence with their casting app Wundervoices. The app design helps producers find the exact voice talents they need. More importantly, these are all vetted native speakers: judged for their talent and studio specifications. You can listen to an excerpt from our interview here:

ipDTL for Remote International Recording

On the many projects that I have recorded for AI, we have used ipDTL to connect my Atlanta studio to their German studios. Alex Jacobi notes that ipDTL is fantastic not just because it’s a cheaper ISDN replacement, but because they work with global talents in their native countries, including Southeast Asia and Africa. For this, the ease of use and ubiquity of ipDTL makes it the great choice for remote international recording. Also, it even works with a Chromebook. Audiovisual Intelligence screens native speakers of dialects through two-to-three other native speakers for approval. They also work with native speakers to get the copy just right for multi-lingual productions. This is especially true for their work for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) voice over clients.

Future Trends in Voice Over Casting

In conclusion, Alex Jacobi notes future trends in voice over casting are influenced by manufacturers now producing their commercials and videos internally with extensive marketing departments. However, marketers do not necessarily have the same skill set or expertise as the media producers and directors one would see on similar projects 20 years ago.  Casting companies need to provide voice over solutions and knowledge for them in many languages. That’s where Alex Jacobi’s company comes in to provide Audiovisual Intelligence.