Ben McCulloch shares his take on why intonation and emotion is imperative in creating high quality and trust-building voice experiences.
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In this episode
Have you ever met someone who sounds confident? What does confidence sound like?
What about fear? Excitement? Sadness?
Believe it or not, we can detect emotion in people’s voices. We can also detect personality types. Imagine the bullish salesperson or the strict teacher or the mad scientist. You can probably imagine what these personalities sound like.
Every person has a way of speaking, even if they say the exact same words. And the exact same words can be said differently in order to change the meaning of them.
Take this famous line from the US TV hit show, Friends:
Joey stars in a terrible play, but gets given an agent’s card after his performance. Joey says “It’s an agent. Maybe they want to sign me.”
Thinking the play was terrible, Phoebe responds “Based on this play?”
Realising she’s hurting Joey’s feelings, she turns it around with a positive “Based on this play!!”
Same words, different intonation, different meaning.
The intonation and emotion in our voices also help us establish a rapport with others and build relationships.
Voice assistants, right now, don’t have the same intonation as humans do.
Now, that’s changing, of course. With things like Alexa’s newsreader voice and technologies like ReadSpeaker, Lyrebird, Resemble.ai and Voice Surfer, we’re getting closer to human fidelity.
But we’re not quite close enough, according to today’s guest, Ben McCulloch.
Ben is an audio engineer and sound designer who’s worked across TV and video creating sound scapes and putting audio to video for many years. He has extensive experience in dialogue editing and is the perfect person to shine a light on the importance of intonation and emotion in human speech.
In this episode, Ben highlights the importance of intonation and emotion in building trust with uses and in providing high quality experiences. He shares some examples of the impact this can have, guidance on when to use Text-to-Speech voices and insights on the current state of play as far as synthetic voices are concerned.
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