How to properly prepare a voice over script

3 min read

Have you wondered how to properly prepare a voice over script? We’re glad if you have, because a well-written and well-prepared voice over script is crucial to ensure a successful recording session. A poorly-written script will negatively impact a voice actor’s performance, waste time, slow down the recording process, and cost you more money due to revisions.

Of course, proper preparation starts with writing the script. Before you even start properly preparing your voice over script, ask yourself:

  • Is the message clear?
  • Have you included all the vital information you need to convey to your listeners?
  • Are you speaking to them in a style that they’ll resonate with?
  • Have you included a call-to-action?

Preparing the voice over script

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Your script mustn’t sound scripted.  No, seriously.

What we mean by that is you should do your best to avoid words you don’t normally use when you’re speaking.

Writing content for the ear is typically more informal. The voice over script should sound conversational and natural. A useful tip is to imagine that you’re talking to someone. So when you’re preparing your script before you send it off to the voice actor, ensure you’re using contractions, everyday words that are easy to grasp, and short sentences.

Remember that pro voice actors have a queue of work and a pile of different scripts to deal with during a given day’s recording sessions. Often this means that the actor will only give your script a cursory glance before recording it.

Readability

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If you have grammar mistakes or information that’s incorrect because you forgot to double-check it before you sent off the script, chances are good the voice actor will read exactly what you’ve written. It’s not the job of voice actors to correct your mistakes — and neither should you presume they will or expect them to do so.

Instead, the actor is likely to rely on visual cues such as the script’s layout, appearance, and formatting when deciding how to read your copy.  Making the script easily readable is very important.

Here are some top readability checkpoints:

Proper punctuation
  • Use punctuation marks as appropriate, such as periods and commas that enable the voice actor to know where the sentences or phrases end. Punctuation dictates inflection and tone, too.
Spelling & grammar
  • If the script includes grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, the voice actor will be forced to make a decision during recording as to the meaning of the phrase or word. For instance, if the script contains ‘these process’, the voice actor has to decide whether you meant to say ‘this process’ or ‘these processes’.
Short sentences
  • Try keep your sentences short: 8-10 words is a good average. This allows the actor to pause, take a breath, and so on. Short sentences also make editing easier afterwards. Long, run-on sentences aren’t good for your listeners either; comprehension suffers. In fact, your listeners may lose interest in what you’re attempting to tell them.
Colloquial words
  • Check that you’ve used contractions and colloquial words to make the script lively and conversational. Use familiar words and avoid jargon.
Transition words
  • Unlike reading, it isn’t possible for listeners to go back and evaluate what the voice actor said if they didn’t quite understand the first time. It’s important to ensure the listener can keep up with the script’s train of thought. Use appropriate transition words like ‘yet’, ‘however’, ‘but’ and so on to guide your listeners to the end and clarify your message.

Direction

how to prepare a voice over script: woman typing on laptop
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Readability is Part One of how to properly prepare a voice over script. Part Two is direction.

This refers to the tone, pauses, and desired emphasis that you want the voice actor to use when reading the script. A sentence can be read in many ways, and a word can be interpreted differently in different contexts. 

The sentences “I want you to come with me” and “I want you to come with me” are identical, right? Yes — unless you change emphasis. Consider: “I want you to come with me,” or “I want you to come with me.” It’s simply not the same thing.

Use italics, bold letters, or underlines to indicate the emphasis you want in your script.

Pausing is another key element that helps convey the right meaning. Indicate the length of the pause in brackets next to the word where you want the voice actor to pause.

Giving broader, overall direction is almost mandatory as well. Use strong adjectives to describe the way you want the script read. If you provide the voice actor with direction like: “Powerful, commercial, and pacy read”, or “gentle, kindly, and empathetic read,” that’s what you’ll get on the first take because they’ll instantly understand what you mean.

Read the script out loud

Reading your script out loud to yourself just before you send it off to the voice actor is also a very good idea. Your ear may pick up something your eye didn’t when you were just reading it silently.

Check for flow, rhythm, and words that sound awkward in sequence. If there are words or names that need specific pronunciations, make a note of them and make the pronunciations clear.

how to prepare a voice over script: man standing in front of microphone
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Hire the right voice actor

Finally, now that you know how to properly prepare a voice over script, all you need to do is hire the right voice actor to do your script justice. We have no doubt you’ll find the voice you need right here on Voice123. 🙂

A well-prepared voice-over script combined with a great read by a professional voice actor is a surefire recipe for success!