First of all, to get work in voiceover, you need to know whether you have the kind of skills that sound studios, advertising or corporate producers, publishers and those casting voices are looking for.
It may be about having a good, strong, clear, engaging voice.
It may be about your natural creative skill set, your ability to read any text as though you just made it up. It could be your propensity for character voices, story-telling or jumping into someone else’s shoes.
It could also be about your personality and your ability to work either in the studio, or from a well set-up affordable home studio.
Mostly though, to get on-going work in voiceover, it’s about delivering someone else’s message to an audience you can neither see nor hear.
And that message is contained in a script.
That’s what I’d like to focus on today.
Understanding voiceover scripts
This is the key that opens the door. It’s your key to success.
You can never underestimate the importance of knowing how to approach a script.
Understanding voiceover scripts is essential knowledge if you want to work in voiceover.
So, no matter how interesting, beautiful or dynamic your voice is, it’s crucial that you realize voiceover is not just about reading the words on the page.
It’s about understanding ‘why’ you’re reading those words, who’s listening, what do they want, or what do you want to convince them of.
Nailing these techniques will help you secure your first voiceover job, build relationships and keep getting booked.
So, over the next 3 blogs I want to help you get a deeper understanding of voiceover scripts, I’ll look at three areas of work – Commercial, Non-Commercial and Character work – and talk about the ways you need to look at those sometimes vastly different voiceover scripts.
All three styles of work have this in common. You need to be compelling, persuasive and engaging.
This time, I’m going to give you, what I believe, are the most important techniques to apply to commercial voiceover reads.
Let’s go !!!
Commercial VoiceOver – Understanding Key Words and Phrases
Advertising!!! What fun. You may have an opinion, even a judgement, about the world of advertising and let’s face it, some advertising can be a little average.
But most high-end ‘brand’ advertising is well crafted and very often written and filmed beautifully.
Good advertising is an art-form. Often, an ad takes the best and worst of our culture and who we are as people and presents it to us ‘as a concept wrapped around a product’. Some of it is so memorable and clever that we make it part of our lives.
Remember the Yellow Pages ‘Not happy Jan’ ads from the 90’s?
Or currently: ‘did someone say KFC?’ Uber eats ‘Tonight I’ll be Eating’?
However, that’s visual advertising which uses 100% talent. That is, we can both see and hear them.
Being the voice talent only in any ad, whether it’s radio, television or online requires a different set of skills.
To understand how to work magic ‘voicing’ advertising scripts, you must first understand what’s being advertised, to whom and why.
The way you do that is to know which words in the script are the ‘key’ words or ‘key phrases’.
Below is a short sample where you need to find the language, which is ‘about the product or concept’ or, ‘the reason for the ad’.
I’ve indicated those key phrases by bolding them. You’ll rarely have this done for you when you get a script. You’ll need to be able to work this out for yourself.
The non-bolded text just gets ‘said’, without too much emphasis, as though you are saying it to someone.
Advertising often uses something I call the problem/solution structure.
When you look at the script sample below, the bolded text in the first paragraph is about the problem. These are key phrases, because they tell what this is about.
You just need to slow down through those phrases only and make them mean something.
In this one, below, you might sound concerned…but only when you read the bolded text.
“Whenever we go on holiday, I always get nervous about leaving the house. Sure we get our mail collected and leave the light on, but you can’t help worrying about being burgled.”
Then we jump to the solution paragraphs. Same rules apply. That is, just say any text that is not what the ad is about (and just to be clear it’s not ‘about’ ugly security doors. It’s about Invisigard), and with any ‘solution’, you’ll always be a little happier.
“I always thought security doors were ugly…until we found the range from Invisigard. Made from the strongest marine grade stainless steel, they not only look great, they’re as safe as houses.”
Now look through and read the bolded text aloud. What you’ll be reading is what I call the story thread.
You can see how making these phrases important focusses on:
- what you’re talking about and how that makes you feel (emotion)
- what you’re advertising (product)
- what you’re selling on behalf of the advertiser or client. (In this one, peace of mind)
Try listening to other voiceover artists voice demos, to hear how they approach key words and phrases.
Usually, you can easily access those samples on voiceover agent’s websites. Just Google that phrase and you should come up with the top 4 or 5.
Next time we’ll focus on voiceover on the non-commercial world.
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.