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More Tips for Voice Actors

07 September

Success Tips For Voice Actors

In my ‘tips for voice actors’ blogs, I often write that one of the most important skills of voiceover, is to be a great sight-reader. 

Without that skill firmly under your belt, then give up now!

Sorry to be blunt, but there’s no way anyone is going to trust you with their message, if you’re not a proficient reader.

If you want to create a successful and long-lasting voiceover career, you also need to have a good vocabulary.

Understanding what words mean, in the context of the copy you’re reading, is key to you being able to deliver that message.

And finally, you need to be able to look at the language in the script and ‘sort it out’.

Why?

Because scripts are often delivered to you in a clumsily written way, with all manner of strange directions, that may be no help at all!

You’re going to struggle to get traction as a voice actor unless you know how to look at the language, no matter how it appears on the page, and work out what the words are actually saying.

Let me give you this example, taken from an actual script.

I want you to read it, and honour all the dodgy, bolded, underlined and caps language.

I want you to read it the way it’s structured on the page.

If you like, record it so you can see the difference when we ‘sort out’ what’s really going on here.

Off you go!

Oh, by the way, it’s a retail script, so the read needs to be energised and excited – like this is the best news ever!
Spotlight script

Okay, so how clunky did that feel?

If you’re an experienced voice actor, you’ll see how this script has been written ‘not’ to help us. There’s a bunch of red herrings in there, that makes it impossible for us to deliver our client’s meaning.

Let’s do some analysis…

First, let’s look at the Product. It’s Spotlight – a large Manchester and Homewares chain in Australia.

Then, let’s find the reason for the Ad. In this case 30-50% off Curtains and Blinds.

These two elements are the most important to nail:

  1. Who or Where (Spotlight), and
  2. What (Sale/Product).

In the first line, they’ve bolded and italicized Save – okay, fair enough.

Then they’ve underlined MASSIVE. That’s okay as it reminds you to emphasise the word.

Then they’ve bolded 50% Off, asking you to make more of that part of the discount phrase.

Then they’ve capitalized and underlined ALL.

Why?

Are we buying an ‘all’, at Spotlight? No, we’re buying ready to hang curtains and blinds.

If you put the emphasis on ‘all’, you take way from the importance of what they’re really selling.

So, you need to look at that line, ignore the red herrings and find where to apply the emphasis that will sell the product.

The positioning on the page of the next line and the one following is what I call laziness or carelessness or thoughtlessness on the part of the writer.

What appears to be two separate sentences actually belong together. But once again, they’ve bolded 50% off and capitalised ALL which is information we’ve already given.

Not just that, but we’re going to repeat that phrase in the next line (which is really the continuation of the sentence).

For me, the rule of thumb for repetition is:

  • the first time you say it – it’s really important,
  • the other times are important, but more often it’s the information that appears just before or just after that becomes more important.

Then they list specific blinds that the savings will apply to and mentioned ready-to-hangs, again. Surely it’s these ‘what’s’ that are more important?

Well it is in my book anyway!

I figure my job, on their behalf, is to capture an audience or a market that wants to buy what they have.

This is an example of how a voice actor needs to convert language in the script.

To maximise the ad’s effect, successful voice actors understand that there are messages in the language that need to be delivered.

We can never just look at the language and take it as written – because it’s not about what’s written. 

It’s always going to be about what’s spoken.

I love sharing these tips for voice actors on how to analyse scripts. Because when you can do this, coupled with an ability to inhabit different shoes, you’ll have a more successful voiceover career. 

Happy voiceovering!

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.

One Response to “More Tips for Voice Actors”

  1. Paul Gluck September 15, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Hi Abbe, Thanks for that. I thought that this was a problem for me ’cause I’m in a non-English speaking market, but I see that even with native writers you have some of the same problems. I just finished 8 very badly written / translated short explainers that were a nightmare. The client was adamant about not making changes, but hey, you need ‘the’ ‘a’ & ‘an’ sometimes…

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