Voice Over Education Blog

July 2017

Turn print copy into a commercial script for your VO demo. Part 1 of 2


NOTE: This is the first post in a 2-part article. Stay tuned next week for part 2!

In our May 7, 2017, Talktime! session (that's our free call-in discussion on various topics each Sunday evening), the question arose as to where to find demo scripts. Various tips were offered, the most fundamental being that your demo coach should be able to guide you. (You do have a demo coach, right?)

But another good source is to convert print copy -- such as magazine advertisements, brochures, encyclopedias, corporate training manuals, and so on -- into an audio track for a radio commercial, explainer, narration or whatever you need. Just how does the average non-scriptwriter go about that?

The simplest answer is, "Write how you talk." That's what NPR advises its on-air journalists. In this article summarizing NPR guidelines, they demonstrate how a print news story is often not at all written the way you would tell it personally in conversation.

See the NPR article for details. To summarize, here's their list of how people talk:

Turn print copy into a commercial script for your VO demo. Part 1 of 2


NOTE: This is the first post in a 2-part article. Stay tuned next week for part 2!

In our May 7, 2017, Talktime! session (that's our free call-in discussion on various topics each Sunday evening), the question arose as to where to find demo scripts. Various tips were offered, the most fundamental being that your demo coach should be able to guide you. (You do have a demo coach, right?)

But another good source is to convert print copy -- such as magazine advertisements, brochures, encyclopedias, corporate training manuals, and so on -- into an audio track for a radio commercial, explainer, narration or whatever you need. Just how does the average non-scriptwriter go about that?

The simplest answer is, "Write how you talk." That's what NPR advises its on-air journalists. In this article summarizing NPR guidelines, they demonstrate how a print news story is often not at all written the way you would tell it personally in conversation.

See the NPR article for details. To summarize, here's their list of how people talk:

Do your voice-overs benefit from your full vocal range?


"Great! Now, read it another way."

Whether or not you've ever heard that from a Director (and you won't always), it's a good direction to give yourself. Because there's more than one way to read almost any VO copy, and there's more than one vocal approach you can use. Which means ...

... there's more than one way to land a job.

Before you start recording, shake yourself up. In fact, you could do that literally – shake your body all over for a few seconds. It helps loosen you up, both physically and mentally.

But you can shake up your "usual" read in many more significant ways than that. Here are some that will help shake up your voicing options.

Who's your character? In an acting framework, this question is often combined with "Who are you talking to?" and "Where are you" and other such situational images. But ultimately, they all come down to "Who are you?" Even if you're narrating, or doing phone prompts, you are voicing a character of sorts. For example, your "character" might be the customer of a department store (the client), or the store's marketing director. Or as a narrator, you might think of yourself as a scientist, or a businessperson, or a teacher. Even as a phone prompt, you might feel like a retail greeter, or the company's owner. They may all sound like you. But each thinks and maybe behaves a bit differently.

Over the course of your career, one of your core characters is "you." Clients come to know your "go-to" voice and personality (or persona); for most talent, it's probably their most saleable voice. But in developing that voice, hopefully you will have given it all the resources at your disposal.

Which leads to another "shake-up" question ...

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