Lesson Two – Different Mediums, Different Approaches
One of the big voiceover truths is that scripts vary greatly in what they ask of the voice actor.
As an audience, we find ourselves listening to, or tuning into, reads that resonate with us for different reasons.
As a voiceover artist, you need to:
- Analyse what you’re hearing,
- Know how to approach the script, and
- Understand who the message will connect with.
Sometimes when I’m coaching and my student is having difficultly getting the meaning in the script across, they’ll ask me…
…‘How would you do it?’
But it’s not about ‘how’ I would do it – it’s about ‘why’ I would do it that way.
When I listen to some voice demos, and some work on air, the one thing I hear is that not enough attention is given to tailoring the read for the different mediums or markets.
For instance, a read for an Explainer Video, meant for someone who has come onto a site because they’ve searched, will have a very different approach to an ad for a new product that’s to be seen on Television.
The first scenario is presenting to a ‘captive’ audience.
That is, the person viewing or listening wants to hear the information.
The second scenario, the ‘commercial’ is trying to capture the attention of a half-listening audience.
The approach that needs to be taken here is one of convincing someone to take action.
Usually it’s to buy the product but it cab also be a ‘brand building’ exercise, on behalf of the advertiser.
So, how do you find way to approach scripts differently for different mediums and different markets when you are building a voiceover career?
Firstly, just think about styles you hear often, that differ from each other:
- Energised: Sounding like it’s the best news since sliced bread
- Conversational: Just having a chat to a friend
- Announcer style for commercials: Information or concept delivery, designed to capture attention
- Announcer style for corporate or business: Information for a captive audience who needs to know, and
- Character: Jumping into someone else’s shoes
Let’s go through the different ways that voiceover artists deliver information.
Because of their nature, each requires a slightly different approach.
1 Energised Radio or TV reads:
Approach: Attract the attention of a half-listening audience
This style of read is still popular and you’ll hear it a lot on FM radio stations where the market is under 30.
You’ll also hear it on radio and on TV when the voice actor needs to make the product, sale or event sound like it’s the best thing since sliced bread!
The style could be best described as ‘heightened’ performance. That is, you’re speaking in a more animated way than you would be, if you were just talking one-on-one. This takes practice, to ‘get’ how it feels in the body, when that energy delivery is energised enough.
Approach: You’re speaking to a trusted friend
The conversational style is used in so many different ways these days and requires you to sound as though you’re engaging in conversation with someone.
To do this successfully, imagine someone responding to what you’re saying.
Actually write short word cues from the other person on your script. Questions often work, because they require you to actually sound as though you are responding.
Things such as:
- ‘Why is that?’ and
- ‘What did you do then?’
3 Announcer Style for TV or Radio
Approach: You’re speaking on behalf of an advertiser or client
To truly sound as though you’re ‘from’ the company, you need to build trust and expertise into your read.
The secret to getting it right in this medium is to make it ‘sound’ like you know what you’re talking about – even if you don’t!
You need to really look into the script for the language that talks about ‘what it’s about’. That’s the stuff that you need to make sound important.
Approach: Visualise yourself speaking from someone else’s mouth
Character work is not for everyone. Voice actors who do this well visualise very strongly that they’ve inhabited someone else’s body – that they’re speaking as that person.
To do that, you must use the words on the page only as a guide (or a prompt) and imagine that you are actually performing the scripts.
The myriad ways writers and producers conceive and write copy and then direct us on how to deliver it, is what I love most about this business.
I hope we’ll always work in studios.
I know not every budget can manage that and therefore the growth of home studios, but the quality of the work is always better when we work in a collaborative way to pull the threads of the particular message together, so that it satisfies on all levels.
That’s why, the more you know and learn about how to approach different scripts and offer style and voice options, on the way to building a voiceover career, the more work you’ll get.
When you’ve developed a sound knowledge of how to analyse the script for yourself and ask questions of it, like:
- Where is this message to be seen?
- Who am I talking to and what do they want?
- Who am I talking to and what is their problem that this message can solve?
- What is the central message in this script?
- What are the words that are only about this message?
…you’ll be well on your way to perfecting the skills that you need to build a successful voiceover career.
Keep listening, keep watching and keep analysing what you’re listening to.
The sooner you’re able to see the bones of a script when you listen, the closer you’ll be to voiceover success.
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.