How to Write a Professional Voice-Over Script? [Infographic]
1 Nov 2019
1 Nov 2019
Do you want to make an animation video? If so, you need a good voice-over script. Every month we see many voice-over scripts passing by. The difference in quality is remarkable. We immediately recognize well-written voice-over manuscripts. These professional scripts are often written by an experienced copywriter. The well-written ones are usually more interesting and often more fun to read. In this article, we will show you how to write a professional voice-over script!
A voice-over is defined by the dictionary as: “on a television program, film, or advertisement, the spoken words of a person that you cannot see:”
It’s a written text that a voice-over actor records. The voice-over actor speaks above the animation video. He performs outside of the screen. The speaker can't be seen and can only be heard.
Your script will be the actual fundament of the animation video. Make sure the script is professionally written. Follow our step by step tutorial for writing a professional voice-over script!
You can see a voice-over in your animation as a guide that helps your audience to understand the message you want to spread. A voice-over makes sure that your information will be clear for your target viewers.
If you want to make things more clear about your product or service, then animation video is the best solution. The message you are spreading needs to be transparent. A custom voice-over helps you to accomplish that.
It doesn't matter what you're explaining in your animation. You want your buyers to relate to your brand directly after playing the video. You can realize this by picking a voice that fits with your brand. Here's an example from Mint.
Adults are more likely to memorize words when they are spoken by a voice that sounds familiar. It's essential to understand that.
When it comes to marketing it's even more beneficial if you use the same voice over and over again. Your clients will recognize the voice and your brand, which will lead to more transactions.
You will sound more professional and reliable.
Reliability is an important factor in the decision process of a potential buyer to buy or not to buy with you.
Forbes released interesting numbers about the power of animation. These numbers show us the value of a good video.
Did you know that after watching an explainer video, 64% of consumers are more likely to buy your product?
55% of all people watch videos online every day. Moreover, including a video on your landing page can increase your conversion rates by 80%!
This is one of the most important reasons why you should hire a professional voice-over. The voice-over artist knows precisely how to get in connection with your fans through their voice.
They can take on different tones so that the audience is gripped and wants to listen to your story. While each particular person involved in producing your animation is important, the voice-over makes it all flow.
The key factor for success when creating a proper animation video is having a quality voice-over.
Here’s an example of a voice-over that fits with the animation video. You can hear the voice-over get in touch with the audience by using his voice in the right way:
At our animation company, we use the following formula: 120 words for about one minute of animation.
In practice, it appears that explanation animations are most effective when the length of the video is about one to two minutes.
Is your voice-over script longer than 120 words? Then you might start deleting some words. The rule is that shorter is better when writing a script. So rather one, than three minutes.
If you find that you have more than two minutes of voice-over script, despite all your efforts, there's no need to worry. It's about the story you want to tell.
Note that the costs for the production of the animation do increase when your animation is longer. This argument is of course only valid when you're not producing the animation yourself!
Long scripts often contain too much information:
Have you written a very long script? Then we advise you to divide your animation into several short animations. Keep it simple for yourself and the public. This will help your messages stand out.
If you’re having trouble writing your script and keeping it short, try to make a storyboard.
From there you can explain what’s happening on the screen. Don’t try to put too much information in one shot. This will go easier when you have the storyboard next to you on the table. Sometimes we help people writing their scripts. This is an effective way to maintain a good overview of your story.
Here’s an example of a storyboard we’ve used for writing a good voice-over script:
Now we will explain to you how to write a professional voice-over script. Do you already know what you want to say? Or is your script still a bit problematic? We‘ll make sure that at the end of this article you will be inspired by our advice. Let’s start with your story.
Before you start writing a voice-over script, you must carefully think about what you want to say. What message do you want to communicate with your listeners? Write it down on a piece of paper.
Think of the reasons that you want to make your message clear. Sometimes it's helpful to think about what you don't want to tell. Which points don't add much to your story? Erase them from your script.
We all sometimes suffer from procrastination. The best way to get started writing your script is as follows:
This is your basis. From there, the process is writing and especially deleting words!
Consider how you’re going to spread your message. You can keep the story simple by simply working out all the points from start to finish. That's one way to do it.
However, you can also bring your story to life. For example, introduce one or more characters: "This is Bob. And this is his cat, Dexter. Bob and Dexter are looking for a new house."
Another way is to lay down a problem: "Many families would like to relocate. But they don't know where to start looking for a new home." Next, you provide a solution to the problem.
Whether you write a voice-over for an advertisement, an animation or e-learning: keep it short and to the point.
With an advertisement, you are often bound to a maximum length. Do not try to cram a 30-second story into a 20-second commercial. Otherwise, the voice actor must start talking absurdly fast.
Like John Moschitta once did in a FedEx commercial:
You get an unnatural result and your message will not come across as well. If you only have 20 seconds, then write a text of 20 seconds.
At the end of the video, you’ll hear a proper voice-over coming up. That’s actually the message FedEx wanted to spread.
Tip: Read your script out loud. You read much faster in your head than when you pronounce a text.
With animations, educational videos and e-learnings you are usually not limited to a maximum length of your voice-over text. But here too the following applies: the shorter the script, the better.
Why bore your viewers with unnecessary information and run the risk of them not watching your animation, because it feels too long? A length between 1 and 2 minutes is sufficient for an animation.
Many sentences in commercials and web videos are too long. Not only for the voice-over, especially for the audience. The longer a sentence, the harder it is to understand.
A good voice-over script counts an average of 8 words per sentence. If you put more than 8 words, you run the risk that your audience will no longer know what you were telling. They quit at the start of the following sentence.
If necessary, chop up long sentences into three short sentences that add up to slightly more words.
Phrases with a length of 10 to 15 words are simple to understand for most people. For someone with an average IQ, a sentence of more than 20 words is often too complicated. The difference with a text is: a voice-over just continues. You aren't able to read the sentence again!
You can use different tools that will help you edit your script and get a more simple text.
Try to alternate long and short sentences in your script. This way your text gets an accurate rhythm.
Tip: At the end of an advertisement, some companies give their addresses, websites, phone numbers plus email addresses. That's too much information. The commercial is more effective when you only state for example your website address.
Your script is going to be spoken by a voice-over. If you write a text for a commercial, a corporate film or an explanimation, you want to use spoken language. Write down the story as you would tell it at a birthday party.
Assure that your script can be pronounced as pleasantly as possible. Avoid complex sentences and constructions. Formal and jargon language needs to be avoided also. Write as actively as possible. An active text is much more pleasant to listen to.
Here's an example of writing in the passive form: "The client was advised by the manager".
This is an example of writing in the active form: "The manager advised the client".
Make use of the passive form as little as possible. Accomplish this by beginning sentences with the subject.
The following diagram shows you how to use a spoken language the right way:
Is your voice-over text ready? Then read it again and again.
Have someone else read it. Are you missing anything? Is there anything that can be removed?
Additionally, read the text aloud. Does it sound good? Is the script running well? Are there perhaps too long sentences in it?
Furthermore, pay attention to errors. A simple spelling error or forgetting a capital letter sometimes happens.
Luckily you don't hear those mistakes when you say a voice-over. Still, we often come across painful grammar mistakes.
If you are writing a professional voice-over text, you must be alert to grammar blunders. Make sure your text is completely correct before it goes to the voice-over.
We regularly experience that a customer modifies the script after we've spoken to him. If a voice-over needs to be re-done because of grammatical errors or the length of the sentences it’s a waste of your time and money. So, double-check your script before sending it!
Check whether all words are properly understood. Sometimes there are phrases with words that don't fit well together. On paper, you won't easily be aware of that, but if you read it out loud, you will automatically hear where it doesn’t sound right.
When we receive a voice-over, we sometimes come across abbreviations and names in the script, but it is not always clear how to pronounce them.
Indicate clearly at the top of the text or in an accompanying email how an abbreviation must be pronounced.
If the abbreviation needs to be pronounced in full, do not use an abbreviation in the text.
Also, people use brackets in many voice-over words or even whole sentences. Then we wonder whether you should pronounce that text or not.
Remove the brackets or the text between them depending on whether you want the voice-over to pronounce it or not.
The same applies to bullets. Indicate clearly what needs to be said or not.
If you want to have an animation made, make sure you use a voice-over. If it's not only for the clarity of your message, the viewer will relate the voice with your brand.
Check out the summary of this article in the infographic below:
Don't forget to choose a voice-over actor that fits your brand. Always ask for multiple options that you can choose from. If the voice you're trying to find isn't there the first time: be wise and find another studio.
Provide an amazing solution for the client and make them buy your product or understand what you’re explaining. Good luck with writing your voice-over script! A well-written script is great for the voice recording artist, you, and your customers!
Nigel Hooijmans is a digital marketer at PitchParrot. An animation studio with in-house animators and illustrators in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. PitchParrot creates animation and explainer videos with impact.
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