Your Voice Talent Could Use a Little Help

  • Apr 08, 2016
  • 0

When I ran my agency, I hired voice talent. I sold the business and am now back in the booth, speaking the words other people write. The copywriter in me shakes her head when I see the scripts that come across my desk. Were they written by a novelist? A “fresh outta school” marketing major? An accountant?

Who says the word “thus” aloud anymore?

I’ve written countless scripts for commercials, training videos, and corporate presentations. After I wrote the copy, I would always speak it to HEAR it. (My staff could always tell I was writing when I was talking to myself in my office.) When an announcer was chosen for the job, I would read a portion of it to them so they could get a feel for the kind of delivery I hoped to hear. Giving strong direction upfront helped them (and me) tremendously, wasting little time and getting the right result quickly.

So, from my side of the microphone, to you, the client, consider this.

Write for what you say, not what you read.

There IS a style difference. Your words are being spoken and heard, not silently read. Poorly constructed sentences are hard to roll off the tongue. Bad grammar is distracting. And punctuation is my visual cue that tells me where you want (wait for it) a pause. A comma is important.

Less is ALWAYS more.

A good script gets the sale made with fewer words. It’s easier to write volumes, but when the announcer is be able to take a breath and give those words some meaning without racing through them like a used car salesperson, it’s better. You can’t put 16 ounces of soda into a 12 ounce can. Understand?


Tell us how to pronounce terms and names. Show me phonetically or record yourself saying it. I’ll never guess correctly. Sijui jinsi ya kusema hii. (Swahili “I don’t know how to say this.”)

What approach do you want?

Direct me before I start. Do you want warm or assertive? Excited and energetic?   If you don’t tell me, and the client is a luxury hotel, then I may guess you want a soothing, relaxed tone, when you really wanted a business-like delivery.

With a little empathy for the voice-over talent you are hiring, you’ll get what you hope to hear more efficiently. We can’t read your mind so let the communication between us be lavish upfront.


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