Drive Forward: Be Audience-Centered

Nov 11, 2016 at 8:00am

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) is an internationally recognized non-profit foundation, supported by motorcycle manufacturers, with the goal of making motorcycling safer and more enjoyable by providing access to lifelong quality education and training for current and prospective riders. One tool the MSF utilizes is the defensive driving technique known as SIPDE, which stands for Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute. The MSF deems these five behaviors critical for safe motorcycle operation with the basic idea as follows: 

Scan the conditions to identify and predict potential problems. Then decide what core of action you should execute

This same concept provides a framework for you to be audience-centered by making you consider the needs of your target audience within the context of your voiceover production.


The possibilities of potential target audiences are endless. To help maximize your message, begin scanning the demographics and psychographics of the people you want to reach. Demographics are quantifiable characteristics of a group, such as age, gender, ethnicity, income, occupation, education level, geographic location, martial status, etc. Psychographics are qualitative characteristics, such as values, opinions, political views, lifestyles, behaviors, leisure activities, entertainment choices, social activities, etc. of a particular group. This process will take time, but such attention to detail will pay off in the long run and increase your ROI.  


After scanning demo and psychographics, you’re able to identify which group of people would be the ideal target audience and begin crafting your message so it resonates with those listeners. 

First you need to ask: “What is the current level of knowledge your target audience has about your subject?” Based off the demographic information you gather, you’ll be able to discern if the individuals you're targeting are laypeople, experts, or fall somewhere in between. This will determine how in-depth your message should go.

Next you should ask: “What is important to your target audience?” Based off the psychographic information you gathered, you’ll be able to determine the common ground you and your audience share. Common ground enables you to be honest with your audience and build trust while strengthening and reinforcing the purpose of your message.


As you develop your voiceover message, the next question to ask is: “What outside factors may affect how the target audience will feel about the subject?” If the topic you’re covering is politically-charged, you may need to approach the message in an extra-attentive manner. If the topic you’re covering is deeply rooted in history, you may need to approach the message in a concise manner while providing enough background information. If the topic you’re covering has economic ramifications, you may need to approach the message in an analytic manner. Once again, it’s best to build your message from common ground.

As you predict the influence of outside factors, it will shape how your target audience interacts with the voiceover. Overlooking this important step may leave your listeners feeling alienated, insulted, confused, bored, patronized, or frustrated - all elements that will detract from your message and most likely taint your brand. 


Based off the answers to the questions outlined above, you need to decide what call to action will resonate best with your target audience. In general, call to actions are persuasive and this automatically places the target audience in the position of decision-maker, further keeping your voiceover project audience-centered. The selection of your voice talent is an essential element to making your message persuasive. 

As you browse our voice gallery of professionals, ask yourself: “What voice actor will speak best to the needs, wants, and interests of my audience while portraying my brand in the most effective way?” Deciding on your use of tone and rhetorical appeal are two elements that come together to aid your voice talent selection.

The tone - or character of sound - of a voice actor will either add to or subtract from your message. From frazzled parent to fellow businessperson to the voice of reason, this aspect comes down to utilizing common ground, once again. Even a small detail, such as a male voice actor or a female voice actor, can end up making a big difference in how your target audience perceives your message.

The second element of rhetorical appeal allows you to further shift the language of your message to adapt to your audience. The three most common forms of appeal are logos, ethos, and pathos and are defined as follows:

> Logos - a literary device that can be defined as a statement, sentence, or argument used to convince or persuade the targets audience by employing reason or logic

> Ethos - represents credibility or an ethical appeal which involves persuasion by the character involved

> Pathos - the method of convincing people with an argument drawn out through an emotional response

A thoughtful combination of these rhetorical appeals allows you to create a highly strategic, persuasive call to action.


By executing each of the steps outlined above, you are able to remain audience-centered in your scriptwriting, selection of voice talent, recording session, audio sweetening, music selection, and media placement. Each step in the process supports and builds upon the others as the individual parts combine to produce a greater whole. 

The National Safety Council defines defensive driving as “driving to save lives, time, and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.” In the same way, you can be proactive and drive your voiceover forward by being audience-centered.

Are you interested in blipping the throttle of your latest voiceover project? Give us a call at 701-232-3393 or visit

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