6 Tips for Writing a Stellar Voice Over Script

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Whether you’re a seasoned copywriter or new to script writing, a good voice-over starts with a well written script.
Writing a voice-over script requires a different approach than writing essays, white papers, or reports. These pieces are read silently from a computer screen.
Writing for an audio recording takes a different skill set. Knowing how to write voice-over scripts well will aid the voice-over performance and, ultimately, produce better results for your clients and your own business.
Join VOX Daily for tips on creating a voice-over script that is clear, legible, and productive.

Scripts with Storyboards

If your script uses a storyboard it is paramount to highlight the voice-over sections in a different colour or, better yet, copy and paste the VO parts into a separate document. If the voice talent is not supposed to read instructions, sub headings, and titles avoid including them in the script or make it clear what they are supposed to read.

Write Like You Speak

Read your script out loud. Does it flow naturally? With the exception of medical or scientific narrations the words should easily fall off the tongue. Try to avoid using corporate drone or formal words you wouldn’t ordinarily hear someone say in everyday life. Short sentences and action words are the most appealing to listeners and will help you achieve a conversational tone.

Use White Space to Your Advantage

Whitespace if your friend! No one likes to tackle one big block of text or run-on sentences. Separate your scripts into proper paragraphs and, ideally, double-space the line breaks to clearly define pauses in your script. This helps the voice-over artist know when to pause between thoughts and will help your audience process what’s being said in your commercial or narration.

Proofread Your Script

Check for proper spelling, grammar, and flow. Again, read your script out loud. This helps you find errors and correct them. It will also give you a sense of timing and rhythm. People prefer to listen to rhythmic speaking rather than monotone. So make sure you’ve allotted enough time for it to be read at a natural pace and it will sound appealing to the listener.

Provide Clear Direction

Make sure your script clearly defines the tone of your project. Is the VO supposed to be deep and menacing, sultry and sophisticated, or a friendly ‘guy/gal next door?’ Who is the voice actor speaking to? Define their role, how it should sound, the mood of project, and the intended audience and you’ll get better results, save time, and potentially money, on retakes.

Know When to Cast the Voice Over

Is your script finished? If the answer is no, then wait to cast the voice-over. A script is a living, breathing changing entity. If you cast the voice actor before you’ve completed the script you run the risk of production delays. As the script is written and revised the desired tone, gender, and age may change which could result in the need to recast the voice-over artist; an unnecessary time-drain for you, your client, and the voice talent.
Once your script is complete, you’re ready to cast the part. For best results, include at least a sample script for them to read and, ideally, the complete word count with your job postings so talent auditioning for your job can calculate the time they’ll need to dedicate to your project.

Do you have any script writing tips to add?

Add your two cents in the comments below.
All the best,

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  • Lisa Rice
    September 24, 2013, 4:39 pm

    Great article, Lin! In fact, I just tweeted about so others can read it, too.

  • Lin Parkin
    September 25, 2013, 9:35 am

    Thank you, Lisa!

  • victor lakra
    March 10, 2015, 10:58 am

    Show to tell. A script for video should be showing more than telling