Voice Over Script Styles Explained
Voice Over Script Styles
One of the things I love about being a voice over artist is the variety – I never know what I’ll be doing from one week to the next.
I’m fortunate to have several regular clients, so I know there’ll always be a voice over booking coming up.
But all the other work comes in a random fashion, and is a complete surprise.
I love the spontaneity and challenge of converting someone else’s words into a message that sounds like it’s mine!
I also never know what style the script will be – that’s because scripts are written in different ways and for very different reasons.
In this blog I want to talk about the two most often used styles of voice over scripts: Announcer style and Conversational.
Here are some tips and techniques to help you understand how to adjust your performance for each voice over script style.
1 Announcer Style
The first scripts ever written for broadcast (in the 1930’s) were written in this style.
They were called ‘Announcer Style’ because they were voiced by Announcers – who were almost always older, authoritative, deep voiced males, usually with a radio or broadcast background.
Much of the advertising back then was not targeted to a particular audience or demographic, like it is today.
It was very general and meant for a broad audience. In fact, most advertising was in the form of ‘sponsored’ programs.
You’d hear spots that sounded like this:
- “Tonight’s happy hour brought to you by Wheaties, the best breakfast in the land!”
- “Welcome to tonight’s Pepsodent Show starring Bob Hope.”
Announcer style is still used, because so much advertising is about delivering information.
Announcer style scripts are often targeting a broad demographic. The advertiser wants to tell you:
- what it is,
- what it can do,
- why you should get one
- where to get one and, very often,
- how to take advantage of their special offer.
As the actor voicing these ads, you’re speaking on behalf of the company. Often the script will begin with the possessive, ‘we’ or ‘our’.
The script style is often very stylised – just look at TV advertising and listen to the voice and you’ll hear just how stylised it really is.
If you were to analyse the language, you’d see that it’s far removed from the way we use language in conversation.
These voice over scripts can often be hard to get your head around.
Here’s an example:
A growing family uses a lot of hot water.
That’s why your family needs a Rinnai Solar Hot Water System. You’ll save on power bills.
It’s easy to install, and you’ll reduce your home’s greenhouse gases. Ohhhh! Did I mention, you’ll save on your water bills?
So, shower your family in savings with a Rinnai Solar Hot Water System.
So, that’s what an announcer style ad looks like.
More often than not, even though it’s written in a non-naturalistic way – to make these scripts work, you’re still required to provide a conversational sounding read to accompany it.
This can be quite challenging! To make it work, you must look for the words in the scripts that carry the message and the information – only these words are important.
These scripts are always written in language that reflects the way we do speak in conversation.
This style of script became more popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s when consumerism was increasing and advertisers targeted their scripts to a specific audience. And this is also when voice branding came into vogue. No longer were our voice artist, big voiced male announcers!
Voice actors were:
- young mums or dads,
- business men or women,
- grandparents, and
- all manner of other quirky, memorable character’s.
Advertising agency creatives cast voices who they believed would appeal to their target market, often because they sounded like that market. And as a result, advertising became more entertaining and interesting, and employed many more people who sounded very different.
The voice over scripts were written to sound like ‘real’ people, talking to ‘real’ people – the ads said, ‘hey, I’m just like you!’
Which is why the best way to deal with these scripts it to imagine that you are always talking to just one person.
Choose your person, male or female by the clues in the script.
The advertising agency will have researched who buys their advertisers product and the writer will have devised key words, phrases, thoughts and ideas, to hopefully get the attention of that person.
As a voice actor, it’s your job to make sure you capture that ‘half-listening’ audiences attention, and have them tune into the message you’re delivering.
It’s not easy! Even though you’re required to sound like you’re having a conversation, it’s still an ad and you must honour all those key words and phrases in the ad.
However, that’s the job of the voice actor. Convert the writer’s words, to make them sound like they’re your own!
No matter whether you are doing an information filled Announcer Ad, or something that requires you to sound as though you’re talking to a friend, the main thing is to have fun.