Voice Over ar work

episode 2


Main styles of texts for voice overs: short texts Part 1.

Radio Spot- TV, brand signature, continuity, promo, trailer, bumper, prompter, tag, filler, ident, tap spot, PSA, jingle, in store)

In this article we will discuss the main styles of texts you can run into in a casting situation as well as a full on project that you were selected for. They were also mentioned in our previous article.

Keep in mind that by main styles of texts we mean that a certain style might be more sought after at certain moments but also that a text for a radio spot, per example, is a good way to evaluate the potential of a voice, so it also might be a requirement in a casting situation. By the way, is it ok for you to be generically referred to as voices from now on?

Let’s take one style at a time. We will begin with short texts.

Here are a few examples of short texts: Radio Spot- TV, brand signature, continuity, promo, trailer, bumper, prompter, tag, filler, ident, tap spot, PSA, jingle, in store.

Fun fact: there can be even shorter versions of short texts out there.

I kindly suggest that you do some research on each upper mentioned genre and study the “classics” and maybe steals some tricks of the trade from them.

Mimicking sometimes is a more efficient way to learn lessons rather than analyzing and describing the phenomenon.

I have not mentioned IVR type texts because I consider it to fall into the category of long texts and I will explain this decision later.

General Characteristics of Short Texts

– they announce/ sell/ promote/ provide information about a product / a service/ an event / a program etc.

– the duration ranges from 3 to 5 seconds to sometimes 60 to 90 seconds;

– time is of the essence;

– there are few words so the artistic delivery is everything;

– main places in which they are used: radio, TV, cinemas, stores and lately as part of on hold messages;

– the voice could either be solely responsible for delivering the message or it could be part of the creative process alongside the music the sound FX, the dialog between other voices or actors, still images or videos.

Common Mistakes Beginners Make (and sometimes the more experienced voices too)

– not listening to the “inner voice” of the project. That tells you whether or not to be open and cheerful, ironic but not cynical, fast but not impersonal, soft but not fading away, to whisper in an intelligible way, to be vocal without yelling, to yell but not in a mechanical way, to be neutral without seeming fake. In most cases, the voice will receive some indications about the style of delivery or there might be a guide track in Romanian or any other language that handles the interpretation side of things. But the voice should be able to take a rough sketch and turn into a dynamic presentation and should also be able to draw inspiration from an external source and turn it into something that works in Romanian as well.

– approaching each story in the same manner whether it’s an add for pharmaceutical products, luxury vehicles or cranberry jam. Short texts are not lyrics to the same song. We need refinement, kids!

– they simply do not understand the idea behind the text;

they do not warm up before entering the vocal booth. Having good diction isn’t everything, and stuttering is only funny the first couple of times. If you have a dry throat and a stuffed nose you will also produce other sounds besides the desired ones and a good pronunciation isn’t going to save the day. Besides, the sound engineer is going to make you do extra takes until you deliver a “clean” performance (Yey! We’re moving into a recording studio!) Even worse is when you show up after a party, with your voice sounding like a broken speaker left out in the cold. This will probably not end well for somebody just starting out in this field (it will leave a bad first impression) and it won’t be nice for a pro trying to get more work after that either because somebody, including the studio will have to suffer if the project turns out bad.

– they do not know how to properly control their voice or their breathing. Practice!

– they accentuate words and pause in unnatural moments in the text. Pausing and accentuating could be a void or a peak in the overall sound or rhythm of the text. They have an artistic purpose. Use them tastefully.

– they do not properly engage the text. The entry is so flat that it almost seems like negligence. Do not waste words. They are your friends. They have character, life, music, poetry, intelligence, form, connections, meanings, nuances. There is not a lot of room to raise tension in a 30 second promo. If you start off too soft and shy in contrast to the music, you might seem insignificant at best compared to the intensity of the music.

– they do not take into account the fact that there will be music, images and sound FX added to the final product.

– they lack structure in their delivery. Beginning-middle-ending. Problem-question-solution. Suspicion-confirmation-information. Sitting down, standing up, then flying. There is a story to be told even in 15 seconds. You need to discover it and bring it forth to the audience.

– they are not focused on the job at hand. This is a tough and complicated subject. We all have our personal problems. Be sensible towards yourself and mature in approaching the people you work with and postpone or cancel the session if you feel mentally unprepared to handle the project. Keep in mind that if you decide to show up, you will be considered as being competent and paid accordingly in hopes of a good result.

This has been the list of the “sins” committed by beginner voice overs upon encountering short texts.

Keep an eye on our blog for part 2: long texts.


Reproduction of the text in its entirety without the author’s consent is strictly forbidden. Reproduction of up to 300 characters of the original text is allowed without special permission by the author only if the original source is mentioned.

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