Finding Your Voiceover Tone: Medical Commercials

August 30, 2022 by Kathy Grable

This article is the first in a three-part series by voiceover coach Kathy Grable on adjusting your vocal tones for different types and genres of copy. Watch for the second and third installments in the coming weeks!

Medical copy is huge. Between healthcare organizations, drug manufacturers, and medical device makers, they’ve become the single largest advertising genre on most TV channels and networks. The American public is getting older, and with it comes more need for healthcare.  So adjust your tone accordingly when tackling the copy. There are different types of healthcare copy, but let’s tackle three of the leading types.

Hospitals and Pharmaceuticals:

These are the types of commercials we often audition for or hear on TV or other digital and streaming platforms. They are talking to a patient or caregiver and informing them about their hospital, services, cutting technology, or pharmaceutical products. Think St Jude Children’s Cancer hospital. The tone is compassionate and kind, as if they are talking to a family member who has just gotten the news that their disease might be fatal. So it’s important to talk to them, not at them – with compassion, kindness, and an element of hope. Picture someone vulnerable who you love and then deliver the news with kindness.  

Then for a possible second take, picture yourself as a doctor or medical professional with a caring bedside manner and a relationship with the patient. We will hear the adjustment coming from a professional, instead of from a family member. Again, make a choice of who your audience is.  It always makes a difference and can be the difference between a take 1 and a take 2.

Business to Business Medical Copy:

This kind of copy is talking one business professional to another. You’re the voice of reason speaking from one pro to another. Lots of copy in this genre is a manufacturer speaking to another healthcare provider, or a doctor, dentist, or possibly a cancer researcher, and the goal of the ad is gentle persuasion.  

The tone is business-like, friendly, and even excited at times – but not, we’re going to Disneyland excited. In this space, it’s not about compassion, but rather giving the healthcare provider one more tool to help their patients, and usually, help their practice make a little more profit. It’s an uplifting thing when a new product or drug can make a real difference, and it should be celebrated. This may be in a more matter-of-fact tone, but there are exciting advances happening and these professionals are excited to be a part of it.

Legal Medical Copy:

Legal copy can be medical or another profession, but we all have heard it in medical copy. It’s the disclaimers that lawyers and the company have spent a lot of time on, so it’s usually quick and to the point.  

Sometimes medical copy in commercials and the web doesn’t seem as exciting or may even make us cringe, but like technology, there are many exciting paths being forged, and breathing life into a less exciting piece of copy can make you stand out as a voiceover actor, and also help people in the process.

Kathy Grable

Kathy Grable is an L.A. voice-over prototype with a warmth and sincerity that reminds listeners of a close friend. You’ve heard her in animated shows like Tom & Jerry, Rocket Power, and Futurama and commercials for Pepsi, Disney, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, and as the Baskin-Robbins “Talking Spoon.” Kathy was also the voice double for Nicole Kidman in the hit film Batman Forever. On-camera, she’s been seen in Mike & Molly, Harry’s Law, Last Man Standing, and The Wedding Band on TBS. She’s a sought-after V/O coach, director, and demo producer. When not performing, Kathy co-owns and operates a company that distributes e-books, comics, audio dramas, and her own podcast, In My Voice, with guests from all aspects of the voiceover world. Find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, or go to https://anchor.fm/kathy-grable0 for all the episodes.

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