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Term of the Week: Multilingual Voice Over

What is it?

The scripted audio recording of human voices speaking in multiple languages; the spoken word applied to media.

Why is it important?

Multilingual voice over provides a way to communicate globally and in a unified way through various media. Many business applications use recorded voice. Narration is a common style of voice over that is frequently used for multilingual voice over recordings. Narration is known for its slower tempo, which allows you to hear the texture of a relaxed vocal reading clearly.

Why does a technical communicator need to know this?

As more and more global brands explore the need to create multimedia content, understanding the issues and considerations surrounding management of the human voice – especially across cultures and languages – is going to become a critical differentiator. Brands that do it well will be able to provide relevant customer experiences to prospects and customers alike.

Because of this trend, companies need to build voice over into their global content strategy. Precise spoken-word brand messaging is critical to effective market penetration, regulatory compliance, human resources training, elearning, sales, technical support, phone menus, and more.

Voice is the most intimate and memorable format of knowledge transfer. When voice is done with precision and professional quality, people absorb it and are drawn to it. When done poorly, people repel from it.

Entertainment and business video multilingual voice over is about acting (playing a specific role) and transcreation (on the fly adaptation to ensure the voice over matches the intent and the character for which voice over is being provided). The actors are not just translating, they are playing the role of the character they are providing an alternative voice for. It’s about authenticity and believability, and, much like localization, it involves more than just the words.

For multilingual voice over, transcreation requires that you develop a character and enforce consistency and fidelity across every touchpoint in every language. In addition, you have to consider how cultural differences and expectations might affect the way the character is portrayed[Resnick 2015].


About Todd Resnick

Photo of Todd Resnick

Todd Resnick is a world-renowned voice over director who has overseen the production of many storied franchises in entertainment, e-learning, and industrial use of video products. He has personally managed and hired talent across 90+ languages for voice over, subtitling, desktop publishing, and platform engineering.

Term: Multilingual Voice Over



Twitter: @toddresnick