As a professional voice over artist, when you’ve done enough commercials, corporate narrations, and general-knowledge explainers, the work begins to feel less of a challenge, and more of the day-to-day. You’re itchy to take on more. Some voice talent choose to go into animation or gaming, but if you’re like me, and have a flair for biology and the sciences, you might be drawn to branching out your business into medical voiceover. For a couple of decades, I’ve enjoyed a successful career as an award-winning voiceover artist, but as a younger version of myself, the sciences were my other love, and there was a time when I was torn between pursuing the two.
Luckily enough, early on in my voiceover narration career, I managed to happily stumble into a medical narration job. Almost 25 years later, I still work with the same content creation company and produce new medical voice overs for them every week. And I’ve since branched out into working with several other industry leaders in the pharmaceutical, medical equipment, and device and related CME companies and organizations.
With the amount of time I’ve spent as a regular in the medical education industry, I’ve come across more than a little expertise and insight into medical narration. It boils down to three key points:
Medical Voice Over Business Vocabulary
You need to have a love for the vocabulary and be able to understand and take on the mindset of the people that you’re speaking to – the doctors, nurses, clinicians, the researchers, the scientists, the students, and the patients. It takes a kind of a geeky mentality.
When I’m coaching voice actors that want to do medical narration, one of the biggest stumbling blocks they face is not coming from a medical background and thinking they have to push the words. Or make them more special than they are. It’s hard to wrap your head around the notion that the dense medical vocabulary isn’t special to the people who work in it every day. However, if you don’t handle it right as a narrator and you stumble or emphasize the wrong things; use the wrong term, or terminology, then it’s going to distract your listener. The last thing any narrator wants is to pull their audience out of the zone and interrupt the listening experience.
The people who listen to medical material want to hear it in a specific way. They want it to be clear and precise and they want it to be confident. Medical voice over talent needs to disseminate it in a way that sounds like you are a colleague. Listeners and learners or buyers need to recognize you as a subject matter expert in the medical, scientific, pharmaceutical, and life science fields. At the same time, the tone should sound engaging and have the flow of someone who is passionate about their area of expertise.
For the person who wants to pursue medical voiceover, you need a lot of practice with medical voiceover scripts. Apart from specific jargon, medical scripts are strewn with scientific notations and phrasing. You need to be able to easily crack that code. Easy as it sounds, if you don’t have any access to medical scripts, the next best thing is to go on some of the websites for medical equipment manufacturers or pharmaceutical products, and use their online copy. Look for explainers of medical terminology, products, ideas, important safety information, mechanism of action information, etc. Whatever is written on the website, use that as your script.
Start building your own repository and mental bank of medical voiceover scripts to practice. Practice or coach with someone who offers medical voiceover coaching until you can become competitive enough to book medical voiceover work.