Get The Point! A Lesson in Interpreting Punctuation


    Join Voice Over Expert Marc Cashman in his lecture “Get The Point : A Lesson in Interpreting Punctuation”. Marc shows you many different ways to interpret punctuation in voice over scripts and how you can turn exclamation points, commas, and periods into useful allies that will help you to make interesting choices in your performances.

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    Download Podcast Episode 72 »


    Marc Cashman, Punctuation, Interpretation, Copy, Interpretation, Voice Acting, Voice Overs, Cashman Commercials, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques

    Transcript of Get The Point! A Lesson in Interpreting Punctuation

    [Opening Music]
    Julie-Ann Dean: Welcome to Voiceover Experts brought to you by, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent. It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.
    This week, is pleased to present Marc Cashman.
    Marc Cashman: Hi, this is Marc Cashman and thanks for joining me today. One of the many topics I cover with voice acting students is navigating punctuation marks in copy or text. I make the distinction between copy which are the words and phrases used in advertising or promotion and text, the words spoken in narration.
    Punctuation marks can be easy or difficult to navigate for some voice actors depending on their skill and depending upon how good or bad the writer is in using punctuation correctly. While the period, comma, colon and semicolon can be used fluidly, the question mark can be used in dozens of different ways and narrating quotation marks takes a bit of skill and timing, the one punctuation mark that needs to be honored and should never be ignored is the exclamation point. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard voice actors ignore exclamation points and I don’t understand how they miss them. They’re impossible to ignore, there’s no other punctuation mark that makes its presence known as well as the exclamation point.
    Granted, copyrighters tend to use them liberally particularly with retail or direct response copy. Do it today! Call Now! But wait, there’s more!
    But that’s no excuse to miss them or pretend they’re not there. The writer plays them there on purpose. They didn’t plant themselves on the page by accident but exclamations points are used for just one purpose, to convey excitement and when you see exclamation points in copy, that’s the writer’s way of telling you, “Make this sentence exciting.” An engineer who I worked with who has listened to thousands of voice actors recommends bringing a pocket full of exclamation points the next time you have piece of retail or direct response copy to perform and if they’re not embedded in the copy, liberally sprinkling them over the page.
    Sometimes there are sentences which don’t have exclamation points that need them but too many sentences with exclamation points will start sounding silly after a while. Just how much excitement should an exclamation point convey? Well, it needs to be appropriate to the product, the situation and the audience.
    Exciting copy for young kids for Hot Wheels is going to be read differently than exciting copy for a casino aimed at adults and there are so many different degrees of excitement. The amount of excitement and projection varies in myriad situations, shouting in a stadium, “All right, a home run!” Or ring side at a boxing match, “Knock them out!” exclaiming, “Happy Birthday!” or “Happy New Year!” at a party. Seeing someone take a fall and exclaiming, “Oh my God!” or accidentally knocking something over and apologizing, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” Calling to your kids, “Dinner is ready,” or hailing your neighbor from your porch, “Hey, haven’t seen you in a while!” Then there’s hushed excitement when you lean over to whisper to your friend or relative or a spouse in a opera or a recital, “I’ve been waiting for months to see this!” Confessing to a loved one, “Oh, you are going to love this!” or fighting with them, “You never listen to me!” Sometimes, excitement goes into the realm of terrorized or insanity.
    Here’s a tip if you see a lot of exclamation points throughout a spot. Be careful not to get too excited at the beginning. Otherwise, you’ll have nowhere to go but down. You need to ramp the energy up gradually, believable and (paste) out. Plus if you’re being directed in a session, the director will explain the appropriate energy you need to give the exclamation points in the script. Just don’t ignore an exclamation point. Honor it and give it its due. Get the point?
    Julie-Ann Dean: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at Remember to stay subscribed.
    If you’re a first time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes Podcast Directory or by visiting To start your voiceover career online, go to and register for a voice talent membership today.
    [Closing Music]

    Links from today’s show:

    Cashman Commercials
    The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques
    Ask The Voice Cat Blog
    Marc Cashman Website

    Your Instructor this week:

    Voice Over Expert Marc Cashman

    marc-cashman.jpgMARC CASHMAN creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he also instructs voice acting of all levels through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, CA. Enjoying the distinction of being one of the few voice-acting instructors in the U.S. who is on “both sides of the glass”– he creates, casts and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television clients such as Kroger, Charles Schwab, Quizno’s, Pella Windows and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer among many, many others.
    In addition to his production schedule, he’s been an instructor at USC Graduate School and does pro bono work for numerous charitable and public service organizations. He instructs voice-acting of all levels through his online and tele-coaching programs, his V-O classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in state-of-the-art studios in Los Angeles, CA, and produces voice demos. He also has a monthly online column, Ask the VoiceCat, plus blogs and podcasts through, and

    Cashman Commercials © 2008

    Did you enjoy Marc’s episode? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

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    Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.



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