Approaching the Script
One of the things I love about being a voice over actor is that I never know what I’ll be doing week in, week out. And when I do get a booking, I’m often given very little information about the job. I’m just booked at a studio or radio station at a particular time and told the product name and the medium.
It might sound like this. “Gusto Music want to book you at 11.30am for 2 Television submission tracks for Garnier”. That’s all!
The fact that I don’t know the content of the script doesn’t phase me these days because I’m so comfortable with the process…and I love it! I know I’ll be working in collaboration with the sound engineer and the Agency producer and sometimes the client, to achieve the right result. We’ll be working it out together. Yep, it is the most satisfying, exciting way to spend an hour or so.
However, I know that when you’re just starting out, it can be a little daunting when you get the script; to know how to approach it!
So, because you want to learn how to become a voice actor, I thought it might be helpful if I gave you a few insights into how to look at a script. Of course, there are several different styles of scripts and the rules for each do differ.
But for now here are two things you need to focus on when you first see the script:
1 Product name
I can’t begin to tell you how vital it is that you look at the script and ask the question, “What is the product and where does the product name appear?”
Mark it in some way, either underline it or put it in inverted commas.
The first time you say the Product name, it’s really important. The next time you say it, it doesn’t need to be important in the same way. In fact it’ll be that some information given just before or just after the name has now become more important.
If the product name is repeated, you need to notice that and work out how you’re going to treat it.
The script will be about one thing in particular. It might mention other things but you can bet that there is a reason why this script has been written – to favour one particular idea. That’s the concept!
The Agency producer or engineer will always be able to talk this through with you and feel free to ask as many questions as you need to, so that you understand fully what’s going on.
As a voice over actor, your job is to find the key words or phrases that apply to that concept. Don’t be tempted to make anything of the other words – just simply say those words.
It’s also your job to draw the listeners attention to only the key words that tell the story of the ad; the concept.
When you’re in the studio, you won’t necessarily get a script that indicates where the product name is or what the concept words or key words are (with bolding or italics like the example I’ve included below).
A good voice artist is expected to know how to look at the script and work it out. You need to decide what’s important and where to place emphasis or weight on certain words.
You need to learn how to mark the script accordingly, to help you remember where the emphasis is to be placed when you’re reading
Let’s have a look at that example:
“Kmart know, that with everything kids get up to,
their clothes have to be made to last.
That’s why we’re putting Kmart Kidswear to the test.
So, if your child outwears their clothes
before they outgrow them
Kmart guarantee to replace them.”
The emphasis is, of course, on the first Kmart. The listener needs to know who this message is from.
Then there are the words kids and clothes. They’re the concept words. You emphasise the word by saying it a little slower.
Then in the next line, the word Kmart is not as important, now that we’re getting to the guts of the message. It’s about Kidswear
Then it becomes about the question, what about Kmart Kidswear?
If you imagine that the listener is asking you this question, you’ll be able to ‘respond’ in a more natural way when you read the line, ‘So, if your child outwears their clothes, before they outgrow them, Kmart guarantee to replace them’.
And see how, once again, it’s the word guarantee that becomes more important than Kmart.
Of course, as I said, there are many different styles of scripts and every script will use language in a different way. A great way to learn how these rules work best when applied is to listen to voice actors’ demos, and hear how they solve those problems.
Your job to learn how to convert script language and its meaning into great spoken word, that sounds completely natural and engaging, satisfying the advertiser, the producer and the sound engineer.
This is the best way to get booked time and time again.
Happy voice acting!
Find Your Voice As a Voice Over Actor And Artist With The Voice Over Coach. For over 30 years I've had a successful voiceover career. I work in mainstream voice over for radio and television, narration for the corporate sector, website content and documentaries, as well as characters for animation, IVR, ADR, on-hold and foreign film dubbing.