A good voice over script is one that is polished and easy to read. And, of course, easy for your audience to understand.
When creating a script you really need to answer this simple question – “what is the desired response by those seeing or hearing my communication?” Once you know that you can create your script accordingly. I would also suggest completing a communication brief so everyone is on the same page. Leading with creative thinking before the structure is right creates nightmares later on.
Unfortunately many technical based scripts are understood by the client and their team only – but not the target. That is why a scriptwriter is very important. They write more than words – they create copy that people can understand and therefore much more believable.
In the studio the talent should be told what the script is about. The feeling of the read and the desired outcome of the communication. A professional voice over artist can then use their imagination to bring the script to life.
How to Create a Voice Over Script
Go back to the basics – whether it is a television or radio ad, documentary or company profile. Who, what, where, why and how. Start by creating a communication brief. This should be done long before any words are written. You’ll need to know:
- Communications Objective (Main idea you want to convey – Moore Used Parts are open )
- Business Objective ((What anticipated impact – an increase in visitors to Moore Parts)
- Target Audience (Who are you trying to reach – cost conscious car dealers and public)
- Action required (What do you want the target to do after seeing/hearing your communication – get quotes from Moore Parts Plus)
- USP/Benefit (What is the main benefit for the target – pay less/save money)
- Support (Other support the key benefit – 6 month, 25,000 kilometer warranty)
- Mandatories (What must be included – Telephone 13-Used )
- Timing (Deadlines)
- Sign Off (All parties agree on this)
Here is an example of a radio spot that answers the above brief. I wrote and also presented some of the voices on this radio spot some years ago.
What Font is Best?
Throughout my decades of voice work I have seen the best and worst. The best is Georgia 14 Point and Double Spaced. The font is easy to read, is large enough and the spacing allow your eyes to move from one line to the next easily.
Georgia 14 Point Double Spaced is also great if you are presenting live.
I have arrived in studios and been given scripts in Arial 10 Point Single Spaced – and the page is full of typing. It is very hard to read and there is no room to make notes. By the end of the reading the script looks like a dog’s dinner and I’m exhausted.
Timing – Words per Minute
The number of words per minute depends on what the communication is about. A documentary on lovely gardens would probably be a slower read – whereas a clearance sale would be a fast read.
As a young copywriter I over-wrote my 30 second script – and I only discovered this in the recording studio. The client understood and agreed to making the scripts 45 seconds long rather than cut the copy. The media department were not happy with me as the complete media schedule had to be re-written. I only made this mistake once.
- Fast Read – 240 words per minute
- Average Read – 180 words per minute
- Slower Read – 60 words per minute
Some clients will insist in putting in as many words as possible – they want to utilize as much of the timing they have paid. Money wasted. The audience won’t understand and will switch off.
Translating Voice Over Scripts to English
If English is your second language you may have translated your script and now have a back translation – your objective is to get the script polished and flowing before it goes to the studio. But don’t just ask any native English speaker to fix it though. You need to tread carefully as most native English speakers are not copywriters. In fact most native English speakers have little experience in scriptwriting. I would be wary of just hiring anyone to perfect my script.
Suggestion: Let your best translator work with the English scriptwriter together. It saves time and two heads working in unison are better than one.
What if the Script is Poor?
Now, discretion being the better part of valour. I will ask the client would it be possible if I could change a few words to make it flow better. If they look confused I explain that perfect grammar might look excellent on paper but sound needs to flow – and sometimes we break the rules a little. They are normally very accommodating. Whatever you do don’t rubbish the script – you never know who wrote it, and they might be present.
If your voice over script is a very poor back translation. You need to talk with the client and take some time out to fix. Usually two heads working together can fix the copy. And they are very appreciative. Be nice – and you’ll get more jobs.