Write it How You Want it Said

If you’re new to the game of writing a script for voiceover one of the main things to remember is: write it how you want it said.

Write it how you want it said when writing a voiceover scriptThis is especially true if your voice-over talent is recording your script without you there, either in-person or on the phone. If your talent isn’t clear on what you mean, they have to guess — and they may guess wrong. That will cost you time, and can cost you money too. So write it how you want it said.

So Many Choices

Let’s say your script is about the CAB-7506 Widget your company has just developed. You write, “The CAB-7506 widget is the state of the art widget for the 21st Century.”

As a voice-over talent, the first thing I wonder is, “How do I say ‘CAB-7506’?”

Here are some of the ways I can read that:

  • cab seventy-five oh six
  • cab seven thousand five hundred six
  • cab seventy-five hundred oh six
  • cab seven five oh six
  • cab seven five zero six
  • c-a-b seventy-five oh six
  • c-a-b seven thousand five hundred six
  • c-a-b seventy-five hundred oh six
  • c-a-b seven five oh six
  • c-a-b seven five zero six

And there are probably a few others I haven’t even thought of at this point.

Then I’ll wonder if you want the “-” in there, like, “cab dash seventy five oh six” or the dash with one of the other permutations. Or do you want me to say “hyphen” instead?

See how complicated it all can get? Write it how you want it said.

But Can’t The Talent Check?

Some will say that it’s simple enough for the talent to make a phone call for clarification. It may not really be that simple. I do a lot of voiceover for clients in other parts of the world and that means that I might be recording something when it’s the middle of the night for my client. I’m not going to get an answer, I’ll have to stop recording the project, and it might delay things for a day or more.

A good rule of thumb when you finish writing, is to read your script out loud. When you find items that are company-specific or industry-specific think whether those can be said multiple ways. If so, write it how you want it said.

In the end, a few extra minutes up front can save a lot more time further along in the project.

Here is another script tip that will help you when writing for voice-overs:

Say What?

I’ll have some others for you soon.

 

What Do You Mean By That?

It often surprises me that some businesses make their marketing more difficult than it needs to be. A marketing message should be clear and not make people guess at what you’re trying to say.

Is your marketing message clear?Take a local restaurant for example.

My wife and I drive by this restaurant regularly with a sign that reads:
Open for Dinner on Mondays.

What does that mean?

Does this mean they are only open for dinner on Mondays? What about the other six nights of the week?

Does it mean that they used to be closed on Monday nights but now they’re open?

If that’s the case, they’re assuming people know they used be closed on Mondays. A poor assumption since this is a busy street with thousands of cars passing by each day. And this place has only been in business for a couple of years. It’s not an established restaurant that’s been there for twenty years, was known for being closed on Mondays, and suddenly starts serving dinner on Mondays.

Even if they used to be closed on Mondays, why not advertise dinner seven nights a week?

Too Many Questions

your marketing message must be clearThat marketing message creates too many questions. But they aren’t the kind of questions that have made us want to stop in to try it out.

Plus, they may be losing business on other nights of the week — if they are even open the other nights. Some people won’t even bother to go there the other six nights of the week thinking it’s only open Mondays.

A marketing message that creates a question in your target’s mind is good if it’s a compelling enough question that makes people want to find out the answer.

For me, the question about this restaurant only makes me want to stop in, not to eat, but to ask, “Why aren’t you advertising your dinners Tuesday through Sunday?”

 

Who Are You? Contact Information is Essential

It’s always a surprise to come across a website, promoting a business, that has limited contact information. However, this happens all the time. I’ll see a business website that has only a contact form for learning more about the business. No phone number. No email address. Just a form to fill out.

contact information on your website is essential

This seems to happen more frequently with single person businesses, often freelancers, who seem afraid to list their phone numbers or email addresses. Although I’ve seen it even with small businesses with multiple employees.

Don’t be Afraid to Share Contact Information

I’ve never understood that. You want to sell your product or service, yet put up roadblocks to having people contact you.

When questioned about this, people will say, “Oh, I don’t want to get spam emails,” or “I don’t want my phone ringing in the middle of the night.”

My question to them is: Don’t you want to get business?

Then why are you only giving your potential customers one way to contact you.

Don’t get me wrong, having a contact form on your website is a great idea. However, that shouldn’t be the only option.

Sure, I have contact forms on my website, but I also list my phone number and email address on every page – including on the page with the contact forms.

Do I get spam emails? You bet! Probably 40 or 50 a day. But my email client is pretty good about catching them and putting them in a separate folder. It only takes me a couple of minutes a day to scan that folder to be sure a valid email hasn’t been thrown in there.

Do I get phone calls in the middle of the night? Very rarely, but I’ve got my phone set up with a “do not disturb” feature that only allows my family to get through at night. Other calls go to voicemail.

Do I get spam phone calls during the day? All the time, usually robo-calls that are easy to hang up on. Then I block the number from future calls.

Plus if the phone calls really bother me, I can get separate phones for business and personal use.

If you’re serious about doing business, make it easy for potential customers to contact you.

And if you need a voice talent for your next project, contact me using my phone number, email address or even my contact form!   🙂

 

Say What?

Pronunciation – Script Tip

Here’s a simple tip to save money on your voiceover recording sessions.

When you write a script for a voiceover, keep in mind that the voice talent may not know the pronunciations of all the words in your script. Most voice talents have a fairly well-developed vocabulary because they’ve read lots of scripts during their careers. However, we can’t possibly know the correct way to say every word.

This is especially true for words that are specific to your business or your industry, and for regional pronunciations of locations, medical terms, jargon, names, and the like.

pronunciation image from dictionary

Be Prepared

Even if you’re involved in the recording session, it’s a good idea to include pronunciations in your script. That will help move the session along without stops to check how to say things. That can save you money since the session won’t run longer while you look up a word.

This should go without saying, but don’t guess at how something should be pronounced. If you don’t know the word, check with someone who knows or look it up. Use the links below to check words you don’t know.

Make It Easy

Here are some tips to make it easy for the voice talent to record your script.

1. Don’t use complicated dictionary pronunciations.

For example, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary uses this cryptic code for saying the word “pronunciation:”

prə-ˌnən(t)-sē-ˈā-shən

Now does anyone, besides a linguist, really know how to read that?

How do you say an upside down “e?” I have NO idea! And there are three of them there!

Even for those who know how to say an upside down “e” that jumble of symbols will slow things down during recording. Instead . . .

2. Use simple guides on how to say something.

Sound out the word and come up with an easy way to convey that.

Back to our word “pronunciation.” How about showing that as:

pro-nun-see-A-shun?

Much simpler, right?

Notice what I did with the upper case “A” there? It’s upper case because that’s the emphasized syllable. Capitalize all the letters in the syllable or syllables to be stressed.

3. Put the pronunciations in-line.

In other words, include it right where the word shows up in the script. Having a separate page with pronunciations is fine, but you should also include them in the script right where those hard to say words appear.

Something like this:
“When you need a pronunciation (pro-nun-see-A-shun) in a voice over script make it as easy as possible for the voice talent.”

4. Provide a link to an online version of how to say the word.

I do a lot of medical narrations and one of my clients always includes links so I can hear the words sounded out. Those links are in addition to having the pronunciation written out in the script.

When I review the script before recording it, I can quickly check those words and hear how to say them. Just be sure that the way it’s being said at the online site is the way you want it said. I’ve heard different ways to say a word depending on the site.

5. When in doubt, sound it out

If you question whether a pronunciation should be included in the script, go ahead and include it. It’s better to have them and not need them, than need them and not have them.

6. Don’t assume

You know what they say when you assume? Just because “everyone” in your industry or your part of the world knows how to say something don’t assume that the voice talent will know.

Here’s a simple regionalism as an example.

I’ve lived in both New Mexico and Colorado, two states that share a border, but don’t share how to say the word Zuni.

New Mexico is home to the Zuni tribe of Native Americans. In New Mexico, Zuni is pronounced ZOO-knee.

However, there’s a street in Denver named Zuni, but that one is said like ZOON-eye. Same word, two different ways to say it.

7. Don’t be stingy

If a word is used frequently in a script you can probably drop the pronunciation after the 3rd or 4th time it’s used. By then the voice talent should have it down. But if it’s infrequent and is separated by minutes of recording, then include how to say it whenever the word shows up. See tip #5.

Here are links to sites which have audio versions of how to say lots of words:

Merriam-Webster
Dictionary.com
How-J-Say.com
HowToPronounce.com
Dorsey Anderson YouTube Channel with Medical Terminology

 

 

Male Voice-Over Talent-Professional Narrator-Professional Narrations