Sound Off On Sound – Medical, Pharmaceutical, Provider Facing, MOA, ISI, etc.
Medical and pharmaceutical narrations require voice over talent to sound much more educated than they probably are. It’s one of the reasons I love voicing complex medical projects…it makes me sound smart. While I only have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, I can sound like a top research doctor on the cutting edge of a medical breakthrough.
Since medical and pharmaceutical projects are oftentimes viewed by physicians, clinical researchers and other medical professionals, the voice must sound authoritative, educated and experienced. The talent must adopt that tone but never to the point of sounding condescending. Luckily, I covered healthcare as a newspaper reporter in my pre-VO life, so I know my way around difficult medical terminology.
Medical Narration Voice Over Preparation
Preparing for a medical or pharmaceutical narration session requires advance planning on the part of the voice talent. This includes mastering the pronunciation of all industry terms and jargon used in the script as well as understanding their definitions. This is especially true when delivering medical or pharmaceutical disclaimer copy which is often read quickly rather than being artificially accelerated in post production.
When researching complex terms or jargon, I always hit the online dictionary. If the dictionary is a bust, a specific Google search usually brings up a video with the correct pronunciation. If that doesn’t help, I will pick up the phone and call my pharmacist or a doctor friend. I also keep an old-fashioned medical dictionary in my studio and bring it into the recording booth if needed.
Usage Scenarios for Medical Narration
Most of my medical narrations have been for pharmaceutical companies that are using the projects as a sales tool for their representatives or for online physician-only accessible content. I’ve also voiced instructional content demonstrating how to use certain medical devices.
Other medical projects I voice are consumer-facing, complex medical or pharmaceutical content and delivering it in a way that will inform and reassure patients. Some of the content can be graphic, so the voice talent must have a steady stomach.
On a multi-video project I voiced for the Centers for Disease Control, I had to dive deep into the Norovirus. Let’s just say I lost my appetite that day, but I learned so much more than I ever wanted to know about it.
For Sharecare, I was booked to voice a complex app that identifies all the parts of the body along with detailed descriptions of their functions, diseases, and conditions associated with them. The app is so comprehensive that the recording session took days to complete.
For pharmaceutical videos on new drugs that will save lives, it’s hard to keep my voice clinical and suppress the awe I’m feeling. Today’s medical researchers are superheros in my book.
One of the most meaningful medical narrations I ever voiced was a video calling for volunteers to participate in a clinical trial. The drug may not have helped the participants, but the findings from the study would help those suffering from the same condition who came after them. Those study participants are superheros, too.
Work Life Overlap in Medical Narration
Every now and again, my work will overlap with my husband’s. He works with hospitals and surgeons on purchasing basically anything metal that goes into the human body. For example, I voiced a video describing a total ankle replacement from start to finish.
My own life and work intersected recently when I voiced an app for Zimmer Biomet narrating instructions for patients on how to perform physical therapy movements. Having gone through physical therapy myself for a leg and, later, an arm injury, I could relate to how the tone needed to be authoritative but also empathetic, and never condescending.
Because much of the medical and pharmaceutical scripts I voice are proprietary information, I rarely get to see or hear the results of my work. You can imagine my surprise when searching the internet for a particular piece I voiced and coming upon it not on a medical-related website but on the YouTube channel of a promotional company. The narration was used in a card that when opened played the medical video.
I’ve voiced medical and pharmaceutical narrations for Baxter Pharmaceuticals, Latisse, Zimmer Biomed, Spinraza, B.Braun, Allergan, Centers for Disease Control, Siemens, GE, Medscape and many others.