How to Analyse Commercial Copy for Voiceover Acting

You’ve landed a great voiceover gig for a commercial company. They’ve sent over a script for you to look over. How do you ensure you’ll do the best possible job and really make that copy pop? 

Every piece of copy contains wonderful nuggets of gold that, as an actor, you can use to create a stunning finished product. It’s your job to tease out those nuggets and make them shine.

In this blog post, we look at how a voiceover actor can analyse a script and find a way to make their version unique.

Step one: Check the specs

When BigMouth sends you a new project, we’ll include any specs that you need to know. The specs might include a general description of what the client is looking for, the length of the track, and any other details like accents or intonation.

If your script includes video panels, now is a good time to study them, in order to learn what’s going on while you’re speaking. Many voiceover actors won’t bother to look at these panels, believing the visual aspect doesn’t concern them. 

That’s the wrong attitude – you’re part of the final product, which means that you need to understand what’s happening across the different departments. You’ll do a better job if you can match your voice acting to the characters and style of the visual collateral.

Knowing the time for the track gives you a great tool with which you can perfect your pacing, as you’ll need to fit in all the words without running over or leaving too much dead air at the end. 

Step two: Read for comprehension

It’s time to look over the script. During your first read-throughs, think carefully about comprehension. Do you understand the pronunciation and meaning of every word in the script? Are there any awkward breaks or grammar errors that impede the smooth reading of the script? Where will you incorporate breath-stops?

Most importantly, figure out what the main message of the script is. Describe the overall feeling of the spot – the “essential truth” you’re trying to convey? Is this an amusing anecdote, a call to action, a description of benefits, or a showcase of a clever new innovation? What’s the best way to communicate this truth? 

Look at the adjectives the copywriter has used in the script, as these can be important clues in figuring out a good interpretation. Look for words like: crazy, elegant, zany, beautiful, sensual, simple, clever, and fun.

Step three: Read the script out loud

Start reading the script out loud, trying different interpretations and intonations, searching for an interpretation that speaks true to the company’s vision. Don’t be afraid to drift away from the direction given – often, a company doesn’t know what they want until they hear it, and they rely on voiceover actors to provide direction to help make their campaign successful.

Let your creativity and confidence go wild, and you may end up with something amazing.

Step four: Test your emphasis

Varying your voice and placing emphasis on certain words or phrases help you get the message across in a clear and engaging way.

Since you’ve spent time analysing the script to figure out its core “truth”, you know the most important message. Frame your emphasis around this message.

Many scripts contain lists. Give each item on the list its own emphasis, so the audience realises when they’re moving from one item to the next. As you move through the script, build interest by using your voice to escalate tension. Make the listeners believe there’s a real rainbow at the end of the video.

Auxiliary verbs like well, shall, might, can, could, must, etc, seem like great words to use and add emphasis. However, the opposite is usually true – these words actually take the audience away from the moment. Avoid emphasising these words and choose more active verbs instead.
Step five: smile!

It may seem odd that I’m telling you to smile when your face won’t be in the spot. But smiling helps to create natural energy in your voice. Smiling helps you to stay aware of the moment and puts both you and the listener at ease. Smiling really does make a difference, so don’t forget that grin!

If you want more commercial voiceover work from BigMouth don’t forget to update your profile with your best credits and all your details. Help us pitch your skills to the right people!