You receive a voice over script for a new commercial for toothpaste, insurance, or maybe it’s shoes. You’re want to deliver the perfect sound to match the product, but there are no tags or directions to guide your delivery. How do you get started? Even the most seasoned voice actors need to do a little digging. As a voiceover coach, I tell my students, many of the clues and questions to ask are in the text itself. An experienced pro might take it further and do a bit of research, too. Whether you’re new to narration or a venerable veteran, here are three simple script analysis tricks to bring your commercial voice over script to life.
Who Am I?
Commercials evolve. And so does their sound. A vocal delivery that worked in the fifties or the nineties, won’t work in the 2000-teens. Every commercial requires something different from their voice actors—and that’s all in the script. Are you the voice of authority or are you a dear friend? Are you a stressed-out mom or the beloved pet dog? Figuring out what role you play in the commercial narrows down your focus. Once you’ve determined that, use your actor’s toolkit to embody that character to sell your product as they would.
Who Am I Talking to?
Now switch hats and put yourself in the potential customer’s head. You’ve probably used this product or something similar to it. What do you want from the product? What would catch your attention? Use your real-world experience to help you find the right sound.
Once you’ve figured out your customer persona, research the product itself. Find out what the product is about. Check out past ad campaigns that might be on You Tube. Though it doesn’t always work because they might be going in a completely new direction, past ads may help you more accurately determine the appropriate voice to use. We may think a toothpaste commercial will be more light-hearted than a life insurance ad, but that’s not always the case.
What am I Trying to Say?
Read the text a few times with this question in mind: what am I trying to say? Look beyond the written word and find the subtext. What’s underneath dental hygiene or sassy summer sling backs? Good ads really sell the intangible. Peace of mind, security, connection with others. Find it or create it and let that intangible infuse your read. What is my bottle of detergent voiceover really saying to the girl doing her laundry in this spot for SJVC College?
Once you’ve answered these three questions, play! Bringing your commercial voice over script to life takes practice as well as trial and error. Even when you understand your audience, the role you play and the message itself, perseverance is the greatest key to success.