One Narrator’s Voiceover Obsessions: Just Explainer to Me

Kim Handysides VoiceoverApart from the fact that they provide me, a professional narrator, with about 20% of my voiceover income, I must confess. I am obsessed with explainer videos. They’re nifty-swifty cool little bites of “Hello, My name is____” and “this is what I do.”

I was surprised at an in-studio commercial voice over session the other day, when neither the brilliant copywriter nor the other (truly gifted) actor with whom I was dialoguing for the spot, knew much about them. So, voila!

Animated, or drawn on a whiteboard, these 30 second to 3 minute snippets do what their name implies: explain something about a product or service or what a business does. 99% of the time they live on a website, like on the home page, but sometimes you’ll find them on other web pages. Their primary goal, aside from providing an entertaining info-nugget? Entice a visitor to click, engage and stick around a little while longer.

How are explainers different from corporate videos?

They’re short. They’re simple. They’re fun or funny. They’re essentially marketing videos that speak directly to potential clients/suppliers/etc. They invariably come with music, sound effects and a professional voiceover. They incorporate brand elements like colors or logos or slogans to help the audience recognize you are you. Good quality, they are generally animated, although I have seen and done some that included segments of stock or inexpensive live footage. Like the one I did for Telos for Created by Agent, right here:


Benefits of explainers

Who doesn’t love an elevator pitch. You can explain what and why you’re different. A quick, fun opportunity to (hopefully) hook the customer into your product. Google likes ‘em. They increase your seo by increasing time on your website. An explainer video is a little call-to-action. It gives your visitor something fun to do. Click on and watch your video. Especially if it appears prominently on your homepage, like somewhere above the fold. It also can increase your conversion rate. In fact, explainer production company YumYum Videos says that conversion rate increases by 20% when a company uses an explainer video on its homepage.  And Internet Retailer, says up to 85% of people who watch an explainer video are more likely to purchase.


‘Splain Me, Mom

It’s natural, isn’t it?  We all explain things. Maybe you explained how to heat up soup to your kid yesterday, or explained why you pay attention to indicator lights on the car’s dashboard to your teenager.  It’s simple communication we use everyday, turned into an relatively new art form. The sweet thing about explainer videos is that they break down problems while incorporating intentions and goals. They focus in on certain ideas in a form everyone loves, story, to encourage or persuade people to take action.

Back to the Future

Explainer videos started in 2007 with the birth of Twitter. Eager to introduce as many people as possible to their platform and needing a totally approachable way to do it, Common Craft, the creative for Twitter’s venture launched a how-to video showing folks how to use their new social media platform. In 2009 Dropbox followed suit and the term “explainer” was coined. Since then thousands of businesses use the same platform to describe their companies in clear and succinct ways.


Why Explainers Work So Well

Relatively inexpensive, explainer videos stay with your potential customers because they have the two-pronged approach of a visual story that resonate with us and engaging audio. Infinitely more entertaining than a talking head or a slideshow of stills and no or unprofessional audio narration, explainers draw us in. They incite our compassion. Get us to identify with Jane for example with the simple words, “Meet Jane.” They introduce tension in the story by revealing Jane’s problem. We become empathetic. Her solution is cathartic and as Jane’s issue is resolved we (insert sigh of relief) feel that release of tensions too.


The Pivotal Role of Explainer Narrator

Ask any producer of explainers, the emphasis is on the script. As in, the core message. Marketers of early explainers realized that flashy visuals without a well thought out story just doesn’t add value. And who presents the script? The narrator. The story teller. The narrator is the actual human interface in the video. That voice and the ability of the actor behind it represents the brand, wraps the viewer in the story and propels them to act (click for more, explore the site, buy a product, call for an appointment, etc). The narrator brings the emotion, adds personality and elevates the quality of the video. The layer in trust, make the viewer comfortable and identify with the end product.


I’m a voiceover narrator who would love to explain to you how much I love explainer videos. Oh, and we could work on one if you want to, too. Ja feel?






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