Male or Female?

When it comes to an e-learning voice-over, which works better? A male voice or a female voice?

Sometimes our preference for a particular gender for voice is driven by tradition and conditioning. It’s hard to find men being enthusiastic about lotions and lipsticks. Similarly, I’m not sure if a female voice can be too successful selling scotch and razors.

Even for gender-neutral topics, it seems like gender matters. At one of my previous workplaces, the sales team had a male and a female team member. They were both equally competent, but their results were different. Even though the male team member used the exact same sales pitch on the phone that his female colleague used, he rarely received a callback. The target audience was mostly men and they were easily persuaded by the female voice. We might seem less sexist today, but the uncomfortable truth is always revealed in sales numbers. The male sales executive complained that what he needed, was the same voice pitch as his female colleague.

Now I wonder what it would have been like if the target listeners were a bunch of women. And what if the target was an equal mix of men and women, which voice would work better then? Is there no topic that is truly gender-neutral? Are certain people more influenced by specific genders for specific topics, than others? Are all topics like nouns in French; they all have genders. Is choosing a gender for a voice-over, actually quite straightforward? Or is it a complex affair where we need to take into account many different factors? These are all the questions in my head and I’m not sure if there is one right answer.

But let’s assume all things are equal – the ability of the voice artist, voice quality, availability of talent, cost of hiring the talent, which voice would you go with for your e-learning voice-over?

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