Speaking Naturally Naturally

Lisa Rice wrote this.

While watching television with a close friend the other day, a Gatorade spot came on. It was an athletic anthem. Even a poem of sorts. Voiced in the regulatory time constraint of exactly thirty seconds, it sounded effortless with effort. Forceful without force. Rhythmic yet staccato-like. But above all…natural. I was impressed!

This particular kind of spot is more difficult to voice than one requiring an announcer voice. And they’re wildly popular. In fact, I’d say the majority of scripts I’m asked to audition for require a conversational voice. NO ANNOUNCERS, written in caps, is clearly understood.

One reason this genre requires some finesse is because not all scripts are written in a conversational style even though the client wants it voiced that way. A conversational script works better with incomplete sentences, assumed pronouns and less technical verbiage. Why? Because that’s the way most people speak.

Another reason they take extra skill is because most voiceover talent only see typewritten words on a page. No video yet because it’s probably in the works. What the finished video or audio will look or sound like takes imagination. Even trickier? The tempo because the music usually hasn’t been chosen at that point. The only direction normally given is the type of voiceover needed, a voice age range and perhaps a particular celebrity voice match. In other words, “conversational, between the ages of 30 and 45, similar to Scarlett Johannson."

Really? Really.

So…one hopes to goodness the mark is hit. Pausing a little here. Moving through the script at a believable pace. Placing emphasis on words that need it. Resting oh-so-deftly on words most people would never use in a casual conversation.

Be it non-broadcast narration, explainer videos or broadcast commercial spots, sounding conversational takes effort.


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