One of the most common questions audio production houses get asked is whether consumers prefer male or female voice over talent. It’s a fair question and something you should consider before you create your video, television ad, radio commercial, eLearning module or other production.

Image source: explanatoryvideos.com

Male or female voice over talent – what does the evidence say?

There has been a lot of research done to determine the answer, particularly in the United States. However, it’s fair to say that for the most part, some of it can be contradictory or inconclusive.

Male vs Female Voice over Talent. How do you choose?

For example: 

  • In a study published in Marketing Charts, 48 per cent of respondents believed that a male voice is more forceful, while 46 per cent thought that a female voice was more soothing. However, another study found that almost half of the respondents thought that either voice was more forceful or soothing.
  • Nearly one in five respondents in another poll felt that a female voice over is more persuasive. However, the same poll had virtually the same number of people say the male voice is more persuasive, while 64 per cent said that it didn’t make a difference.
  • When it comes to selling products in commercials, there is some evidence to suggest that male voice over talent has the edge. While two-thirds of people polled in another study found there was no distinction in the male or female voice, for those that believe there was a difference, more lean towards the male voice.

This latter point is perhaps important if you’re creating a commercial to sell a product or service. 

Phil Shinn from IVR Design Group, a communications technology consultancy, says there is evidence that shows people buy more when the voice over is recorded by male talent, particularly those with lower voices. This is because more people – particularly older people – find lower male voices easier to understand.

If you’re trying to sell products, particularly to males or older people, then a male voice over artist is likely to be the best choice. Particularly someone who has a lower voice. However, if your target audience is young mums, then a female with an early 30s voice is likely to connect and engage with them better.


Remember, too, that the choice of voice over talent – female, male, lower voice, higher voice, etc. is just part of the equation when considering connection. In addition, your content, your messages, the emotions you want your production to convey and more will ultimately decide how successful your project is.

Are female voices more persuasive?

The research suggests that female voice actors are more persuasive because we generally attribute qualities such as softness, gentleness, credibility and forcefulness to the female voice.

This was reflected in Harris Interactive’s study, which revealed 48% of participants thought male voice-overs were more forceful than females, while 46% of respondents agreed that they found females over males more soothing. Furthermore, 18% of those surveyed believed women had greater persuasive powers than men.

Gentle and calming voice-overs will make your target audience feel at ease while also making it easier for them to relate or develop an affinity towards your brand (which leads them to consider whatever you want to advertise).

Female voices are more trusted. 

Another study by CXL Institute found that people trust female voices more than they do male voices. The study observed the target audience’s reaction to an explaner video created by the institute. The goal of the study was to understand how audiences evaluate different voiceovers in a video.

Four distinct types of voiceovers were used for this experiment – each varying by gender.
Ultimately, viewers preferred videos with a female narrator rather than one narrated by someone who sounded masculine. In other words, regardless if it was conducted by a professional voice-over artist or not, women narrators garnered more viewer attention when compared against men.

 

Voice over artists genders

Males vs Female Voiceover artists in the US

Zippa provides some interesting stats on the gender divide in the voice-over industry in the United States, claiming 41% female and 59% male in this market.

Their table of voice-over artist gender from the period 2010 to 2019 shows a gradual increase in the portion of female voice artists that stabilises in 2015.

Why not have both?

In some cases, instead of choosing between a male voice over talent or a female, why not have both?

For example, Apple’s Siri now provides a choice between a male or a female voice, as well as accent choices. The Mindfulness app, Smiling Mind, also provides the user a choice between a male and female voice, depending on which they find more soothing.

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