In casting voice-over projects, the hot word for the past decade or so has been “conversational.” And we get it. Conversational is good! What could be more relatable than an announcer who sounds like they are actively engaged in a casual conversation with you, the listener?
That said, how do you make wall to wall, thirty second scripts chock full of price points actually sound extemporaneous? How exactly do you nuance “brochure” copy and/or scripts written by the company legal department? And what’s the best way to put smile into copy points like phone numbers and urls?
By no means exhaustive, here are some tricks we’ve learned over the years to help get our talent and ourselves into the conversation zone. And don’t worry. Don’t confuse this with the friend zone. Even though there’s literally a glass wall between the audio engineer and the talent in a voice-over session, the conversation zone is a much better place to be than the friend zone.
5 TIPS TO MAKING THE SCRIPT SOUND CONVERSATIONAL:
- CONTRACTIONS. No one writes contractions but everyone speaks them. “I have.” “Do not.” “You will.” Contract ’em! “I’ve.. Don’t.. You’ll.” Reading these as contractions immediately makes the copy more conversational. Don’t ya think?
- COLLOQUIALISMS. While we are talking about word substitutions, try colloquialisms. “Gonna” for “going to” is a good un. As is “wanna.” Just be careful about getting too regional sounding, y’all.
- INTERJECTIONS. Ever try throwing a little fluff into the script? Don’t worry, the editor can fix it in post. Starting a sentence with an interjection like “Hey!… ” or “Look here..” gets you off to a conversational start.
- BODY LANGUAGE. Talk with your hands! Don’t be afraid to make gestures in the booth. Wave your hands, point, cross your arms… do whatever body language comes naturally when you are talking IRL.
- SPEECH DISFLUENCIES. If you’ve got the time, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to sprinkle a little linguistic fillers into the middle of your read. “Um,” “so,” “like,” “like… you know,” and other speech disfluencies help give the impression you are thinking. So don’t be afraid of inserting irregularities into the script, especially when you think the tactics of the copy have changed.
So… um, there ya have it! These are some acting techniques that have worked for us here at Lucky Dog. The “conversation zone” is actually a very fun place to be, especially when working with our creative clients who are always up for experimentation in the booth.