1. Social status
In some cultures, you can “hear” social status in accent, pitch, or vocabulary. Research the culture and decide how (or whether) social status should be expressed. For example, in Japan, an accent is taboo. Why is that? Accent reveals one’s social class and this goes against the long-lasting Japanese culture of modesty.
2. Language and accent(s)
Based on your target group you should define the language you’re going to use or even the accent. In Spain, for instance, there are 4 co-official languages. Countries like Switzerland or Luxembourg have strong multilingualism. Which language/accent best resonates with your audience?
Age matters for certain cultures or age groups. An old, mature voice will resonate better with GenX learners, but GenY might find it out-dated.
4. Taboo Topics, Symbols & Colors
Religion, sexuality, politics, or social status are taboos in many cultures. As a result, you need to review and alter your content accordingly.
Look for words and phrases that have unacceptable references or associations. Omit them from your script and brief your voice actor. Let’s say you work on corporate training about networking and relationships. Perhaps you should change phrases like “Suggest going out for a beer” to “Suggest going out for dinner”.
5. Gender selection
Should you choose an assertive masculine voice, an attentive female one, or an upbeat neutral one?
Times have changed and societies are, more than ever before, engaged and directed towards inclusion and diversity. But have in mind that this does not apply in every culture.
According to cultural and educational researches (carried out by Geert Hofstede), masculinity and femininity differ in the social roles in different countries. To this day, some cultures have still strong gender restrictions. For example, learners are separated in classrooms according to their gender. This might mean that men can only teach men and women only women. Research the “openness” of your targeted culture before deciding on voice gender. And remember: always be gentle and respectful of customs and traditions.