As a voice actor, you’ll find yourself working with a wide variety of scripts promoting all manner of things from home insurance to baby wipes, cars to dating websites. Some of them will be well thought out and well written, giving you lots to play with and make your own. Some of them will be pretty poorly written and you’ll have to work extra hard to make the read sound natural and convincing. All in a day’s work!
The key thing to remember is that though you might have your own ideas about how the script should sound and what it should say, it’s the job of a voice actor to work with what you have. It may be ok to make suggestions for very small amends so that the script flows better, but by and large, it won’t be possible to make any sweeping changes. Often the copywriter will have produced several different versions to include all the information that the client wants in there, so the version you have in your hand will be a compromise between creative sensibility and marketing necessity.
To make sure you do the best job possible and get the most from the script, here are a couple of top tips from some of our most experienced voice actors.
• If you know you’ve been booked for a job, always ask if you can see a copy of the script beforehand so that you’re not coming to it completely ‘cold’.
• Underline any words you feel you really need to hit, or any lines where the rhythm might be tricky. Remember, rhythm is hugely important for radio commercials.
• If the script looks pretty tight for 30 seconds and you think you’re going to struggle with the timing, underline any words you think it might be ok to lose and suggest this on the day. Words like ‘and’ ‘the’ ‘that’ can all usually be chopped out without getting up the copywriter’s nose.
• If something’s not clear, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re not quite sure of what you’re saying you won’t make it clear for your listeners either.
• Remember to breathe! Very important and something a lot of people don’t get right. The engineer can always cut the breaths out, but if you have a great take bar the bit at the end where you’re turning purple and squeezing the words out, it will be frustrating and disappointing for everyone.
• Don’t forget to give the product or company name due attention and emphasis. It might not be the most fun part of the script but it’s ultimately what the listener needs to get from it. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for people to be very familiar with a radio ad, without having the faintest clue what the ad is for. This isn’t always the fault of the voice actor, but be aware of it just to be sure.
Finally, remember to have a glass of water in the booth with you – not tea or coffee as they’re not good for your voice. Have fun, but be professional at all times, and give yourself the best chance possible of getting booked again.