How do I make my voiceover script brilliant?

There are of course many answers to this and there is no universal template for voiceover scripts, so some might ask why I am writing this.

I am a UK based Voiceover working for a provider of elearning and blended learning courses; I voice scripts for these every week. I have slowly but surely developed our team to be able to write me a script that I can voice in a take or two, shows our creativity and actually has a point.

Here are my top tips:

  1. Don’t use brackets if you want me to read it. They should only be used to give me guidance or phonetic spellings e.g. “James (jaymz)”
  2. Punctuate where you want me to pause. Unlike academic writing you must go back to basics to add the pauses and breathes in the right place.
  3. Keep it short and sweet. As Cathy Moore discusses here research shows that learners switch off with a constant voice in their ears. We find using them in animations and for quick explainers really aid the learning process.
  4. Read your script out loud. At least twice, you will probably find words may need changing and punctuation added in.
  5. Explain what you want me to do with italics. Do you want a change in tone or pitch? Many voiceover artists will do sessions via ISDN, Phone or Skype  so you can discuss and do multiple takes
  6. Use audience appropriate vocabulary (translation: speak like they do)
  7. Not happy? Send it back. As long as you have scripted correctly, mistakes can normally be rectified and a new take added.

 

I would be really interested to know about your voiceover experiences.

 

Any other top tips? Voiceover nightmares?

3 Replies
Jason Reed

To add to your first point, it's always good to be specific about how you'd like abbreviations to be said. Is S.C.U.B.A to be said letter by letter or as it it was a whole word? This is a similar thing with company names that could be interpreted in different ways. 

I've also found that there is almost always content you can cut out or reword to be more efficient. Voiceover can be great, but it can easily be overused as well.

Lindsay Abbott - Voice Over

Hi everyone

I'd echo all of those points, and definitely the ones relating to reading the script out loud a couple of times to make sure it sounds right, as very often the written form is much clunkier when actually spoken. And, of course the importance of punctuation to guide the VO, and clarification on abbreviations. 

Jennifer Ritter

I have a few ideas to add.

  1. Leave at least one line of space on the script between the narration for different screens/sound clips. Even if they're on different lines in a table, it's easier to see where each section ends if that space is there.
  2. Try to keep all of the narration that's supposed to be recorded in one take on the same page. Having to switch from the bottom of one page to the top of another makes giving a smooth read that much more difficult.