Mature woman walking a dog in the forestDon’t want your read to get away on you? Just like walking a dog, you’ve got to train your read to stay with you, and that takes discipline!

My friend David Bourgeois, President of Voice Coaches, is one smart cookie.
When he’s coaching people in the booth who are trying to create a “real person” read, he uses a simple technique that helps you as the voice talent stay genuine while maintaining your creative flow.
The same technique applies to any kind of read where you need to be consistent in your delivery.
Want to learn more? Keep reading!

How To Stay Genuine in a Real Person Read

By David Bourgeois
In our industry, we have definitely gravitated toward conversational, believable, sincere delivery.
One of the most common differences in how people read text and how they speak text is that reading becomes task oriented with the goal being reaching the end. So, everyone has a natural tendency to accelerate their pace when they’re reading.

I used to do a little experiment with people where I would have them speak for a couple of minutes off of the top of their head, going way back to when I started training in this field. We’d bring the voice talent back in the control room and play their recording back a couple of times, write it down word for word, and ask them to go in and read it at the same pace that they felt that they had said it.

We never, and I did this exercise with many people, had anybody able to read it in any more than half the time it took them to say a couple of minutes of material. It’s very interesting.
So, a great technique to fight this is to use what I would call “Reset Points.”
Take your pencil and just put little reminder marks in your copy to reset that pace back to a genuine, believable, conversational pace.You always want to be working off of what I would refer to as your conversational average… your average conversational pace.

As the excitement level increases in the copy you’re reading, you’re not just going to speed up, you’re going to use more variation in the pace. As your perception of the excitement level in the copy lessens, you don’t just slow down… you come back closer to that conversational average.

Maintaining that conversational average is difficult. Feel free to mark your copy up, and put reminders at the beginning of the third or fourth line that says something along the lines of, “Hey, settle down back down and get that energy together again.”
To the client, to the copy writer, to the person trying to convey that information, the words later in the copy are just as important as the words you started out with.
David Bourgeois
Voice Coaches

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Reply with your comments and get involved in the conversation about maintaining a genuine, sincere, and consistent read.
Best wishes,
© Lee


  1. This is all well and good, but what if there is too much copy for the time? We’ve all had this issue. The script reads great as a 45 second commercial, but the spot is only 30 seconds long. You can’t slow down. So then you have to try to sound conversational while maintaining the faster pace.
    And for animation, conversational isn’t usually the goal. I had worked really hard at a conversational delivery, but I was told at an animation workshop by a very well known VO director that my delivery was too slow. She liked my voice, character, and interpretation, but I needed to speed it up. At the end of the workshop, she recommended I do audio books, where a slow delivery is an asset.

  2. The advice David offered is really important, but that doesn’t mean it’s applicable in every case. It may in fact not apply to animation but it probably does apply to etraining, video narration, product introduction, and yes to audiobooks.
    Sometimes the copy reads real good, but speaks real bad. Sometimes “speed it up, you can fit it in” doesn’t work. Re-writing & re-editing should be an improvement but can result in a clash of egos.
    Speedy reading can be the result of anxiety, loss of focus, lack of experience or insufficient practice. But it’s correctable, and as David points out, can be approached and solved with a method, way, or system that keeps you focused on the job at hand. It’s a good idea.

  3. Stephanie…
    A wonderful piece of coaching advice. As the voice of thousands of radio/tv commercials and a significant amount of narration, I can attest to the need to “mark” your script at certain points to determine whether to increase energy/pace to hit certain “time-points” so as to finish on time. You will also learn whether you have been reading too fast with too much energy.
    Editors of broadcast commercials loved me because I could fit-the-read into music “beds” in real-time so they didn’t have to edit and place my read into the proper space of the bed and make it fit. To do that, I rehearsed the script many times with the music bed playing in my earphones to mark my script with “timechecks” on certain words. If I was ahead or behind, I had to adjust the read accordingly. Of course, with today’s computerized software, editing is a snap so the clock-timing of the read is less critical.
    Thus, you’re free to concentrate on putting the right energy and excitement into the copy. David’s tips are surely the modern-day… and more professional…version of the historic need to do it for editing purposes.
    Thanks for the consistent tips to improve all aspects of our craft!
    Jay Lloyd
    Benicia, CA


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