I’ve been trying to find the best way to incorporate (into voiceover training) what I recently learned in an incredible communication course I just took. What started as me thinking I was going to learn how to make myself more clear to people quickly turned into an incredible journey of emotional self discovery and how our human struggle translates to people when we talk with them about . . . anything. The beginning concept has us realize that we feel small and powerless in this big big world, and how in conversation we subconsciously try to work through that (feel bigger, more powerful, etc) in conversation. The teachings illuminated how we take someone else down because their actions lead us to feel or think a certain way, instead of speaking from OUR own truth. It’s too long a “story” to translate here but the connection to voiceover is that – speaking from our truth. It’s a tricky thing to do in voice acting, to speak from your own truth, when you’re reading a script that someone else wrote. I get the struggle completely. But hey, if you’ve decided you want to win big in the voiceover audition game, there are a few things that will help you make peace with and even embrace the script.
Start with acceptance when you are faced with a voiceover script. Yes, there’s a lot of bad writing out there. I. Get. It. Is acknowledging that bad writing, dwelling on that, whining about that, going to get the best performance? Nope. So you might as well embrace those words which will soon be coming out of your own mouth, yes? Yes. If you have a bitter taste in your mouth from the script you’re certainly reducing your chances of winning that job. Forgive the writer. Better yet, just try to understand the tone and message that the writer was trying to convey, regardless of how skillfully you think it was done. This will keep you on target for your goal. Ask yourself WHAT the message is. Ask yourself HOW the message should be conveyed. These are two completely different things, and you need to understand both. More on this in the Voiceover Script Analysis blog from a few years ago. Let’s take this advertisement by Alamo car rental and then break it down:
If you’re ever near Durango, Colorado, you’ll find a road to the sky…where a hundred years ago, men searched for the silver and gold they saw there. There are over one million miles of roads in Alamo territory, all over America. And every day, with every car nationwide, only ALAMO gives you all those miles for free, including a seventy mile stretch along route 550 in Colorado, which takes you to the sky.
So- first- what’s the message? The message is that by renting from Alamo you get real America, you get history, you get wide open big sky country, and you get all those miles that you put on the car while seeing it all . . . for free. By understanding this “WHAT”, you can now put your keyword strategy into effect on each sentence. To illustrate this let’s look at the second sentence as an example. Keeping in mind that the fewer words you magnify in a sentence the better (the more power they have to stand out and specify a point), we arrive at a benefit – ONE MILLION MILES. We don’t magnify the word roads because we already established that in the first sentence. We may not magnify Alamo territory either because perhaps Durango, CO already insinuates that. OVER may be keyword as well, because it speaks to the endless possibilities for places to go. I think America is assumed by the fact that the first sentence speaks of American history in a very American place. So there you go, by highlighting the words that speak to the message, you now sound like you’re making a point, speaking a truth. Not reading a script.
The next step is the HOW. How are you saying this message? Are you warm and caring, sarcastic, confident….? Again, you must look to the writing and really try to
understand the writer’s intention. What do I see? Classic storytelling. Following a dream. A road to the sky? Come on. Dreamy. Men searching for gold? They’re not selling pickles here. They’re selling the great American adventure. Hopeful. Positive. Perhaps introspective – or rather – conveying a quiet intensity. The HOW is so important. The how is your truth. Speaking from your truth. Yes, I’m doing a callback to my communication course now people! Enjoy! I know I’ve strayed! So, speaking from your truth looks like this: When have YOU followed a dream, gone on an adventure, went after something big beautiful great? Speak the writer’s words and intention from YOUR truth and now you have authenticity. Now you have booked voice over work.