10 Tips To Get the Most From Your Voiceover Session - Sound4VO Blog

1 July 2011
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home studio, voiceover session10 Tips To Get the Most From Your Voiceover Session

By Dan Friedman

Your advertising dollars and your time are important to you. Do you know how to get the most from your voiceover session? Here are my 10 Tips For Getting the Most From Your Voiceover Session.

1- Choose Wisely – Who you choose to deliver your message is the first and possibly most critical decision you’ll make. The voice should personify the attitude and style of your company, product or character and should relate to your target demographic. Keep in mind that the talent should be able to communicate your message quickly and efficiently. Choose a voice talent who can deliver your copy with few mistakes or pickups. Just because audio editing is easier and faster than ever, doesn’t mean extensive editing should be required to get the result you want.
2- Check Your Script – Before your session, read your script out loud and use a stopwatch to time it. This process will help ensure that you’ve fixed any mistakes, grammatical errors and any other stumbling blocks that the voice over talent may encounter. Using a stopwatch while reading aloud will prepare you for the possibility that you may need to cut or add copy to fit your message within the time limits required for radio and TV commercials.
3- Formatting – The way your script is formatted plays a big role in the ease in which it can be read. Double spacing allows room to make copy edits when necessary. Use of punctuation is a must. Also be aware that WRITING IN ALL CAPS IS MORE DIFFICULT TO READ. Only use ALL CAPS, bold type, italics or underlines to indicate emphasis.
4- Numbers – Using actual numbers (1,2,3) rather than writing numbers (one, two, three) is helpful. However, in the case of a monetary value that is complicated to say or that can be said multiple ways, writing the number the way you would like it said is best.
5- Communicate – Communication is what this is all about… right? Let your voice talent know right from the beginning what your ideas are for your script and the approach you had in mind. Most of the time, the copy itself will indicate what approach the voice talent will need to take. Other times several approaches could be considered viable options. This brings us to…
6- Be Flexible – While you were getting ready for the session to begin, the voice talent was also preparing. Professional voice over talent will look over the script, read it to themselves, then read it aloud and anticipate what delivery will be best based on the script, the client, and any written direction that may have been provided. Oftentimes, the talent’s approach will be very close to what you were thinking. However, the talent may also deliver something slightly different or even completely unexpected. These differences could lead to results that are better then what you had imagined. Be open to what the talent brings to the table. Its one of the reasons you chose him or her.
7- Ask For Help – The audio engineers, producers and the voice talent are all there to help you get the most out of your voiceover session. Everyone involved wants the production to be a success. If while in a recording session, you are not quite sure about direction, script construction, copy edits, or have questions or concerns about the audio itself, then allow the talents and experience of these professionals to help you achieve your goals.
8- Be Specific – Vague terminology is confusing and not very helpful since it often requires further explanation anyway. “Make it blue” is not a clear direction and can be interpreted in several ways. “Bigger smile” and “descend on that word” are examples of very precise directions that the voice over talent can easily understand.
9- Keep it Positive – Everyone appreciates positive feedback. If the talent is communicating your message effectively, let them know it.
10- Make It Fun – The best and most memorable recording sessions are the fun sessions. They usually involve fun, creative scripts and people who love listening to their productions come to life. Even if the script is informational and straightforward, there is no reason the session can’t be fun while the work gets done. Sometimes, it can be so much fun… it seems strange to call it work. How’s that for getting the most out of a session?

6 responses on “10 Tips To Get the Most From Your Voiceover Session

  1. As always, all brilliant points, Dan. I would like to respectfully clarify – for properly timing a script – that reading aloud does not mean simply speaking it. The only way to achieve an accurate timing of a script is to read it aloud – both at the pace and in the style or tone (i.e. conversational) expected in the finished spot. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve actually heard people timing radio copy by mumbling in a barely audible tone and at a pace just barely intelligible. That’s fine, if that’s how the finished spot is expected to sound, but that would hardly be an effective or even good spot.

  2. Peter Drew says:

    One thing I might add concerning script length is number of words and lines in a :30 or a :60, if we’re talking radio and TV commercials. A moderately paced :30 comes in at around 8 double-spaced lines of 12 pt Times New Roman typed within Word’s default margins. Double the 8 lines to 16 for a :60. Again, that’s ballpark, depending on how fast the copy will be read. When writing copy, its helpful to spell out numbers to give you a real idea how long the copy is. For example: 1-888-234-5678 is eleven words: one, eight-eight-eight, two-three-four, five-six-seven-eight. That takes up almost a full line of an 8-line :30. A moderately paced :30 averages about 80 words, a :60 about 160 words. Another good rule of thumb is writing what you think times out properly, then cut a few seconds, say, :03 for a :30 and :05 for a :60. This can help compensate for an overly fast read-through by the copywriter of director. Almost forgot, after you write out numbers for timing purposes, convert them back to numerals in the final version to be voiced by the talent. Thanks for addressing the copywriters and directors out there, Dan, regarding how to get the best performance out of us voice talent types.

    • Dan says:

      Thank you Peter. Your insight is a fantastic addition to this post. I should add that these days breaths are almost always removed in post on radio and TV. Therefore, it often isn’t necessary to cut the :03 or :05 seconds worth of copy that you mentioned just to be sure it will fit. :31 seconds usually trims down to :29.5 and :62 to :60 once the breaths are removed. However, in my post entitled Between the Lines, I mention leaving some space for music and creativity to help communicate the message. Writing copy that goes “wall to wall” doesn’t allow for much of that to take place.

  3. […] with a typical script such as one for a grocery store, car dealership, restaurant, or bank. If the script is written well, a professional voice talent should have little trouble delivering it. It is frustrating when a […]

  4. […] there is a great deal involved in directing a voiceover session. While a list of words may not always be helpful or simple to create, there is no reason why we […]

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