Creating your own commercials remains one of the most powerful advertising tools today, and narration and voice overs are essential for rounding out the information presented in any video. You can save money by writing your own short and simple script. However, the script has to be easy to read for the voice over professional to give you their best work. Make your script as legible as possible with these tips.
Identify the Audience
Start by adding a little background information at the beginning. Details about the audience who will be listening to the voice over, any tone and emotional requests you have, and anything else relevant to the commercial. An overview of your company's target demographics helps the voice over professional build a persona for themselves so they can deliver exactly the right kind of narration. People who have lost a loved one need to be approached with a very different tone than children who are being encouraged to ask their parents for a new toy. At the very least, add a sentence about the general purpose of the commercial to help steer them.
Space the Words Out
There's a standard format for spacing out words on a printed page in order to make them easier to read at an even and natural pace. While you can certainly supply a non-standard script and expect the professional to adapt, you'll get better results with fewer takes if you follow the usual formatting standards. Aim for about 10 words across the page, and double-space the lines so there's plenty of white space between the lines. Use paragraph breaks as needed for more spacing and to encourage natural pauses, but don't break sentences or paragraphs between pages.
Check Rhythm and Meter
When you're writing a script, you need to worry about more than just word choice and conveying your point in just 30 to 60 seconds. Writing with rhythm and meter in mind makes it easier for the words to roll of the tongue. It's more difficult than you think to write in a way that sounds like natural speech when it's read. Since the bold and rapid paced announcer style has fallen out of favor in video and radio ads alike, you need to structure the sentences around the natural breathing pauses a person makes while talking in conversation. Reading your script out loud as naturally as possible is the best way to adjust where the pauses fall.
Limit the Words
Don't try to pack too much into a short time period. There's a fixed number of words you can understand per minute, and even boiler plate sections like medical and legal warnings are recorded at a normal speed and then sped up in processing rather than read at a fast speed. Most commercials have a maximum rate of around 160 words per minute, and this is a relatively fast speaking pace. If you're only recording a 30 second spot, even 80 words will fill up practically every second of the voice recording. Aim to go under so there's always a few seconds of extra time at the beginning and end for natural transitions.
Use Punctuation Creatively
Finally, there's no need to follow the usual grammar rules for punctuation when you're writing a voice over script for commercial use. Feel free to add extra commas, periods, sentence fragments, and even ellipses to indicate the rhythm of the text. As long as everything is legible and you follow common sense rules when using unusual punctuation, you can give a lot of visual indicators to the voice over actor. Exclamation points and additional question marks help guide inflection and indicate where to add emphasis.