quick tips on successfully interpreting and voicing a commercial script in under 7 minutes

Here’s a scenario: you get a call from a commercial client and it’s a rush deal, they need the spot done yesterday. You will have very little time to digest the copy before you have to record it and send it back. What are you going to do?

For many folks, they will scan the script and hit record. After all, the client needs it NOW and they are in panic mode, not quality mode so it won’t reflect on you if the read isn’t perfect.

Stop. Don’t do it. Back away from the script and the microphone. Breath.

You can still get the spot done quickly but also get it done right.

Step 1. Grab a pen or pencil

Step 2. Read silently. Mouth CLOSED, no lip movement. Read only with your eyes…don’t speak a word of that script….not one word.

“What?! That’s crazy, I need to practice how this will sound!!!!”

I told you to be quiet when you read the script for a reason. You need to dissect the script as you read.

So read this :30 second script 3 times – this will take you about 2:30 all totaled.

On the 1st read: Read for comprehension – this is vital. VITAL! You need to grasp the copy writer’s intent going beyond script direction (cause often you won’t even get that!) Are they going for humor? Drama? Silly Sublime? Are you a character or just an announcer? What kind of character or announcer? What kind of sell are they going for? Knocking them in the head with a sledge hammer kind of sell (“Sunday! SUNday! SUNDAY!!!”). Is it a scare tactic script (“is your computer data backed up or could you lose it all with one power surge?!”). All these things and more you need to be able to identify after the first read through. Take/make notes on your script.

On the 2nd read: Is there a change in tone or intensity from one part of the script to the next? Does it start softly and build in intensity? Is it suble all the way through? Is it hard sell all the way through? Where is the critical sales message (you likely found that in the first pass but you should confirm your assumption here).

One the 3rd read: Start reading the script out loud, making your announcer marks as you go. Check the copy for time (notice – this is NOT something I advise in the first two read throughs – to do it earlier would take your mind away from critical interpretation notes.) Now your natural voice over abilities and acting talents can take shape and make the script your own.

By now you understand the script a lot more than you would if you just started reading. You’ll have a better chance of properly conveying the message the client needs the listener to hear. You’ll have a comfort level with the copy, intent, sales message and pacing of the script so that not only will you cognitively understand the script, your mouth will have wrapped itself around the words and give you a better shot of cutting the spot in a shorter amount of time…maybe even in one take.

6 Responses to “quick tips on successfully interpreting and voicing a commercial script in under 7 minutes”

  1. As always, great guidance Peter. Thank you for continuing my education.

  2. Dear Peter:
    Thank you for the concise and powerful advice!
    I’m adopting this as my routine starting now!

  3. @ David – You’re welcome – the Voice Over Workshop (www.voworkshop.com) seems to never close! 🙂

    @ Mike – Glad to hear you’ve added this great trick to your arsenal!

    My best to you both always,
    – Peter

  4. Thanks for these quick, practical steps, Peter. Great post!

  5. Thanks Lisa, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Best always,
    – Peter

  6. These are helpful tips specially to those who view voice over as something they could work and advance on. For someone not really familiar with voice over and then figures a career opportunity likely bending towads voice over, this are somewhat the rules of thumb to follow.