Industrial and Corporate Videos – Part One: How to make yourself more valuable.

Edge Studio

NOTE: This is the first post in a two-part article. Click for Part Two

When you tell someone what you do — that is, once they understand what “voice over” means — does it go something like this?

“So, was that you in the _______ commercial?”

“No, that was Benjamin Bratt. Anyway, I don’t do commercials. That’s only 5% of the voice over market. I’m a narrator.”

“I see. Like last week on Nature?”

“No, that was F. Murray Abraham.”

“Then what do you narrate?”

“Maybe you caught my video on the importance of choosing the correct plastic beads for an industrial extrusion process?”

“Was that the one with John Cleese?”

“No, although he does do corporate training videos.”

Sigh. Industrial and Corporate Videos are one (or two) of the biggest, most active genres.

Consider: worldwide, people view 1.12 billion hours of live (and recorded live) business online video content yearly, a number that’s expected to double by 2016. Most or all of that is probably “unproduced” video (like filming a stage play, not like producing a movie), so it has little to do with voice over. But the number gives you the sense of scale. Produced video is expanding, too, and as companies become more experienced in video use, their practices get more sophisticated.

Industrial and Corporate are also among the most interesting genres — you’re almost always learning something. But they are relatively unsung, and your friends are unlikely to hear your work.

At least you’re in good company, and you’re performing an important commercial service. The pay can be good, and regular. And there’s a lot that you can contribute to make yourself worth it.

Here are some ways you can help.

Do an excellent job as a voice artist. This goes without saying. Which is something we all might wish to say of some of the company owners and employees who voice their videos themselves. They might like the “personal” touch, but often they don’t realize that using professional voice talent can be fairly inexpensive and will make their company seem much more professional. Or they never even thought about it.

To do an excellent job as a voice artist specializing in industrial and corporate video voice overs, learn all you can about them. The videos, that is. Watch them on YouTube. Work with a coach who specializes in the genre. Catch the many TV shows on manufacturing processes. Understand corporate cultures.

Learn all about your clients, too. The more you understand their needs, concerns, operations and processes, the more easily you’ll be able to jump in and assist with any project. Maybe even the planning or writing of a coordinated video series.

The Corporate and Industrial genres are functionally similar to each other (which is why we’ve lumped them together here). But they’re often cited as separate genres, because there are some important differences. Primarily, it’s a matter of the subject, as apparent from their names. “Corporate” is generally white collar, front-office, and probably sales, managerial or customer-relationship oriented. “Industrial” is generally blue-collar, production floor, and often “how-to.” But, for your purposes, the key difference might be the cultural one. Do you relate to one sphere more than the other (or sound like you do)? Clients might relate to you better that way, too. Consider making that your initial focus. You might wind up being the voice of the entire company.

There are lots of exceptions and cross-over situations. For example, a newly hired employee might be asked to watch a general “about our company” video regardless of what department the employee is in. Or an office worker might watch a how-to video about using software or an office machine.

Some Industrial and Corporate videos are produced in-house (by the company itself). But there are also production companies and individuals who specialize in producing videos for this market. As you market yourself to both, recognize that they sometimes represent differing budgets and levels of production expertise. Unfortunately, sometimes the in-house approach also represents a lower level of production values.

One of the first tasks undertaken by the writer of a Corporate/Industrial is to determine, “What does the company want to accomplish?” The video is then created to help that reach that goal, not the other way around. Your job in voicing a video is similar. Understanding the video’s purpose (and, hopefully also having some sense of the company’s objective in producing it) will help you determine the tone, the viewing environment and the viewer’s innate level of interest. Likely this is a question you’ll ask yourself, or the director or producer will have made it clear already. But if any question, don’t be shy to ask about anything you don’t understand.

The same is true of details, such as the pronunciation of industry terms or combinations of words that represent industry concepts. Sometimes it’s a question of which word to hit. For example, there’s a big difference of meaning between controlling pulp products’ moisture content in a “paper kiln” vs. firing ceramics in a “paper kiln.

That sort of thing is why you should get the script in advance whenever possible, leaving you enough time to review it, line by line, to be sure everything is clear to you. If it’s not clear to you, it won’t be clear to the viewer.

Because there are so many companies and so many possible objectives, these two genres contain a wide range of subgenres, including:

  • Company profile, aimed at an external audience (e.g., customers and press)
  • Company profile, aimed at an internal audience (e.g., new hires)
  • Explainer video – a specialized profile to present a product, service or company with a specific objective (e.g., describing a newly launched product, or pitching venture capitalists, or encouraging shareholders)
  • Sales video – a sales presentation which might be general-purpose or very specific
  • Mechanical instruction (e.g. how to run a machine, or general background on what’s inside it).
  • Service instruction (e.g., how to deal with an irate customer)
  • Managerial instruction (e.g., how to run a meeting well)
  • Policy instruction (e.g., privacy rules)
  • Facilities instruction (e.g., procedures in case of fire)
  • Instructional video intended for use by customers and their end-users (e.g., software instruction)
  • Website video. This could be any of the above, with the additional possibility of being interactive. Having a video on the page can enhance search engine results.

The list goes on and on. As we’ve said, the first task in creating a video is to determine what the company wants to do. For just about any objective, there could be a video to support it.

In Part Two, we’ll have more tips, including the importance of emotion in voicing corporate and industrial videos. Yes, even cryogenic food processing calls for emotion in your delivery.


To learn more about the Corporate Industrial genre or to schedule with one of our voice over coaches, call our studio at 888-321-3343 or email [email protected].

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