The conversational read for commercial voice over remains the “darling” of the voice over business. Let’s look at how this impacts both client and talent, both in pursuit of the perfect read.
Why Clients Want a Conversational Read
If you seek a conversational read for your next commercial voice over, you’re not alone among voice over clients. This perennially popular style involves no shouting or “pushing” that copy. For sure, it does not sound forced or stiff—quite the opposite. No yelling about that super sale on a car right now.
You want your next commercial to resonate, so you want a conversational read for commercial voice over when you produce that message. You’ve made it clear in the specs for your product or service that you don’t want anything to sound “announcery.” You want it to be real, informal, relaxed, relatable, and anything over the top just won’t cut it for this voice over project.
You know you’ve got that perfect conversational read when the voice sounds believable, and really connects with the listener, like you. It comes across like a good friend talking to another friend, and although it may not sound super-professional or “perfect,” that’s fine because we humans don’t always speak perfectly, do we?
This voice sounds smooth, delivering words at a pace that doesn’t include lots of pauses that shouldn’t be there anyway. It can be authoritative, and a voice of experience, but not preachy or bossy. the voice doesn’t “talk at” the person but “talks to” them without forcing it. It makes the listener think, “I want this person to tell me more.”
Voice Over Talent Delivers a Conversational Read
If you’re a voice over talent, the conversational read for commercial voice over keeps appearing on almost every script you audition these days. And it helps you so much if the script has been written well, enabling you to deliver that read.
You read the copy through a few times, but maybe you think, “I just don’t have this yet, and I need to get it NOW.”
Let’s ask a few questions and come up with the answers to help you master this conversational voice over read.
Who are you in the commercial read?
If you’ve taken acting or improv classes, good for you! You can apply some of the same principles you used in assessing a theatrical script or improv assignment. And yes, voice over acting is acting, so get yourself “into character.”
Start by thinking about “who” you should emulate in this script. Why is this person there and what should they do? What is their motivation? And what is their connection or relationship to the audience?
Although space is tight, use your hands as you would in a conversation. Just don’t bang the mic! Do what you need to do, including making noises a nd faces, to get into that character mode.
Who is your audience?
So, there you are, squished into a tight studio booth, and you’re alone, with no “Atta’ girl!” or applause. Turn on that active imagination and let it flow. Who’s listening and why do they care? Better yet, how do you, as a voice over talent, engage them and get them to care?
Who was the script writer thinking of as their target when the writer penned the masterpiece you get to voice? Can you envision a relative or friend as the one who will listen? Maybe it’s a celebrity or VIP or someone else who inspires you, or otherwise affects you.
Who do you know who feels like the target of the script? You will tell this person the story in the script and tell it like you mean it. If you get too “announcery,” this person would consider it a huge turn-off, right, and call you out?
How do you structure the read?
Put a pause, or put a breath, where it occurs naturally in the copy. You’d do this in a “normal conversation.” Maybe you want to add a contraction because the copy sounds too stilted. Most directors don’t mind this, but they don’t want you going too far off-script. That remains a no-no in any session as it seems disrespectful to the copy.
Show your magnetic personality, while adhering to that delivery that talks to your “person.” Don’t feel like you have to shout or use a loud voice. That can happen in front of the mic. Think “one-on-one,” sitting next to your “person” in their living room, talking intently and sincerely about something.
Where can you find help?
If developing a conversational read for commercial voice over feels like a high hurdle, get some help. Choose from the many experienced, talented voice over coaches available to help you, within your budget. But don’t rely on someone to do the work for you. Read, record, and listen. And do it again. Practice really does make perfect, and today’s super-successful voice over talents have read thousands of scripts.
You can do it. Just don’t over think it. And practice. More.