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How To Become A Voice Actor 6

05 October

Showing the Script some Love!

When you work as a voice actor, you seldom know what you’ll be asked to voice, week-in-week-out.

The variety of scripts I voice in any given month, is almost always exciting and satisfying, sometimes challenging.  For me, that’s the fun of it.

I love the spontaneity of voice over!

And I love the challenge of taking any script I’m given and working out just what’s going on in the story of the script, so I know where to place emphasis and how to convey meaning on behalf of the advertiser.

You’ve probably heard me say this before.  “I believe every ad tells a story”, whether it’s a socks sale, an ad for a new vacuum cleaner, or a big Campaign for Exotic Getaways.

Your job is to peer into the words on the page and find the words that tell the story.

It won’t be all of them.

I call it finding the ‘story thread’.  That is, all the words that tell you exactly what this ad is about, so that if you just read those words, you would get an abbreviated but very specific version of the ad.

Let’s talk about how you find where the ‘love’ is in the ad…and share the love!

Warning:  There’ll be other words in there that you’ll like, and you’ll want to place emphasis on, but if they’re not part of the story thread, then they’re largely unimportant and need to be treated so.

Of course, they need to be there or the sentence won’t make sense but they are not where the message is.

Your job, once you’ve found the ‘story thread’ and all the words that are important, it to find a way of delivering those words with real meaning.

That’s where you put the love in. 

How you choose to do that, is what makes a voice actor unique.

Here’s a short example of what I mean:

Say you’re doing a voiceover for a Financial Institution and the ad is specifically about home loans…and your opening line is…

“When you’ve had enough of feeling anxious about choosing the right home loan”….

Which words would you say were the key words or key phrases?

Just read the line through and make some choices now.  Read it aloud too, and really hear where you place the emphasis.  Do this before you read on?

  • Did you choose the word ‘you’ve’ to emphasise?
  • Or did you go with ‘had enough’?
  • What about ’feeling’?
  • Did you decide ‘anxious’ was important?
  • What about ‘choosing the right home loan’?

I know, I’ve mentioned almost all the words, but only some of those phrases I mentioned are part of the story thread.

Here they are.

The only words that you need to give your attention (the love) to are, ‘anxious’ and ‘choosing the right home loan’.


The word anxious is a ‘feeling’ word.  It sets up (or foreshadows) the problem;  ‘choosing the right home loan’.

That ‘feeling’ word is very much a part of the story of the problem.

So, as much as you can, you need to play the emotion.  That is, we need to hear you ‘acting’ the word ‘anxious’.

The rest of the words are just there.

Yes, they need to be there, but they’re not to be emphasised. Rather, they’re just to be ‘said’.

Remember voiceover is not about your voice.  It’s about the advertisers message and who you’re delivering it to.

In this case, your audience (market) is only those people who are searching for a home loan.

You need to empathise with their problem and given them a solution.

The rest of the ad goes like this and is about the solution’remember, St George is big enough to be Home Lender of The Year, but small enough to still help you make the right choice.  That’s what sets St George apart’.

I do know that many people I coach, unused to the rules for approaching scripts, often look at a script as a whole.

A script is never one whole thing – it is always a series of parts, containing key words and phrases.

I hope this has helped you think about script and where the meaning and ‘love’ need to be, in order that your voice over performance is ‘connected’ to the audience.

When you can master that, you’re on your way to becoming a premium voice actor.


Abbe Holmes About Abbe Holmes
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.

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4 Responses to “How To Become A Voice Actor 6”

  1. Peter Curtin October 11, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Peter C – pcurtin08@gmail.com. Thanks , Abbé – more useful reminders , and the webinar idea sounds good too. Xx p

    • abbe-holmes October 11, 2013 at 11:41 am #

      Hi Peter…thanks for the feedback. Looking forward to the webinars…once I’m across all the technical stuff. What a world! Hope to see you soon

  2. Nicola Redman February 21, 2014 at 7:31 pm #

    Great advice. I recently got directed word for word through the story of an on hold ‘thank you for waiting message’, seemed a touch OTT at the time, but actually, it sounded so much better. Proved there is a story in everything.

    • abbe-holmes February 21, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

      Thanks Nic
      Yup. That’s a great example. It could seem very strange, almost insulting if you were asked to work like this. But we need to remember, it’s only about the parts, not the whole thing. Just concentrate on getting the ‘parts’ right and the engineer can fix the edits.
      Best thing is to never let yourself unravel when you’re faced with this scenario…just go with the flow.
      Too easy!

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