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Voice Over Story Telling Skills You Must Have

03 August

Every Voice Over script has a story to tell.

And if you want regular work as a voice actor, you must keep developing your story telling skills.

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs, you’ll know there are many different scripts, written in different styles.

But the one thing all voice over scripts have in common is that they’re all telling a story.

It could be the story about how:

  • Amazing the room freshener is,
  • Buying a ticket to anywhere now will save you 30%, or
  • Your life will change if you buy this product.

There are many different way writer’s craft scripts to tell the story – and the added element to voice over for commercials is that the story is wrapped around an ad.

So, I want to give you some tips and techniques that will help you sort through the language to find the ‘story’ in scripts that are very differently written.

When a writer, producer or creative team decide on how they’re going to deliver an ad, it’s informed by the market or demographic they want to reach.

It could be about the problem that needs solving, or what it is they perceive the market needs or wants.

I love analysing voice over scripts. If you want to be a cracking voice actor who books work regularly, you need to get really good at it.

It’s always a mistake to look at a script and see it simply as a bunch of words that need to be read with a nice voice.

You need to look at the language in the script and ask questions about what it’s saying to whoever it is, you’re delivering that message to.

Let’s look at two examples, and find the elements of storytelling that you need to understand, in order for the meaning in the story to connect.

You need to:

  • Find the language that makes it a story worth listening to,
  • Look at where that language appears in the script, and
  • Find a way to deliver the message, so that you convince the listener to do what the advertiser needs them to do.

 

First, let’s have a look at a Hungry Jacks ad – this is a ‘retail’ ad with a product and a price.

 

“Hungry Jacks double delish is back, double beef, double cheese, delicious relish, lettuce and mayo. 

At $2.75, you just can’t resist double delish. 

The burgers are better at Hungry Jacks”

 

Okay, the first thing we do is look at the advertiser and the product.

The Advertiser is Hungry Jacks and the only think you need to remember when you think about what to do with a brand name, it to ‘love it’. Smile!

Smiling will always help you keep your energy alive – but keep your volume low so your voice acting will be much more listenable.

There’ll often be a ‘way’ that the producers want you to say the product name. Usually at the session, you’re required to present some different versions, so they can choose which one resonates.

So for this one, the product is ‘Double Delish’ and clearly, from the language in the script, ‘is back’ is the central reason for this ad.  

That’s ‘the story’  – they’ve had this product before and, possibly, their research says people want it again.

So you need to approach it in a way that says, I’ve been hanging out for this burger and now I can get one’.

You especially need to look at the language that describes what they’ll get when they buy the product. In this case, and stated by the product name ‘double delish’, it’s ‘more’. Yup, they get double!

So, your voice over story telling needs to spell out just how good this is going to taste. 

In ads where food is mentioned, we need to make the food sound absolutely delicious. Then the kicker to your story is the fact that it’s so affordable.

My, I’m feeling hungry all of a sudden!

 

Now lets look at a different kind of story – a character story.

A character story is where the voice actor needs to jump into the shoes of someone else to tell the story.

These are always easier to read, because they’re actually a story written in a conversational rhythm that’s familiar to us.

They’re not a straight out advertising message, but you still need to look at all the language and work out how and where to place emphasis. This will help you get the meaning across to whoever is listening. 

You need to ask:

  • Who am I talking to?
  • What is their problem? and
  • What do they want?

In the following ad, you’re talking to retirees, who have a house on a large block of land that can be sub divided. Their problem is that they don’t want to look after such a big block and they’d like some extra cash.

I’m going to underline what I think are the important words and phrases – these are the words that make up the story thread.

As you tell the story, you can make these elements stand out by moving through these words and phrases a little slower. The other words aren’t as important, so need little or no emphasis.

 

“We’ve always had a big back yard, so after I retired we thought…maybe we could do something with that.  You know, to stick a bit extra in the nest egg. 

But where do you start?

So we called MK Building Group…and they took care of everything, the permits, the plans, the construction…the whole lot. 

Now we’ve got some handy extra cash, a nice new home…and I don’t have to mow that back yard anymore.”

Of course, there’s an announcer tag at the end giving us more information in language that is much more stylised and often contains the ‘positioning statement’ or ‘branding statement’’.

In this case it was ‘MK Building Group – Making your hidden wealth work for you’

Remember, no matter what kind of voice over script you’re looking at,  you’re telling a story!

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.

2 Responses to “Voice Over Story Telling Skills You Must Have”

  1. Gail Hedrick August 5, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    As a ‘newbie’ to VO, I’m finding script analysis something I sorely need, so this was a timely, helpful post for me. Pity we’re not on the same continent!
    Thanks so much.\,
    Gail

    • Abbe Holmes August 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

      Hi Gail
      Thanks for the feedback and I’m glad its making a difference. I do Skype coaching with people on lots of different continents, if you ever need to do some deep dive analysis. You can just go to the Coaching section on my voiceovercoach.com.au site
      🙂

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