Caution Signs in Voiceover and Life

Lisa Rice wrote this.

You’ve seen them. Those yellow, diamond-shaped traffic signs placed strategically along winding roads.

Each one warns us to slow down and pay more attention because a dangerous curve lies ahead. And if your experience is the same as mine, they always seem to pop up when I’m running late.

Ultimately though, we know they’re posted for our own good, and in turn, they benefit the drivers coming toward us in the opposite lane.

When I see one of these, I’m reminded of a little voice-over trick I learned several years ago.

But before I share it, allow me to explain why we need to use it in the first place.


In a perfect world, every piece of copy we voice would be written with timely finesse … just the right amount of words for the allotted time.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Many scripts have been so stuffed with information they feel like tongue twisters.

Good, succinct writing takes time and skill. Or as Mark Twain explained to a colleague, “Sorry about the long letter. I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead.”

To be fair, many producers work with tight budgets and schedules. They’re forced to juggle several responsibilities and do the best they can.

And sometimes their customer, with no media training whatsoever, refuses to part with a script they themselves have written and has crammed in every company detail in order to get their money’s worth.


Now, this isn’t usually a problem for non-broadcast jobs because post-production can tweak things by adding more video or longer transitions.

Broadcast projects, however, are entirely different. Advertising is purchased in intervals and these snippets of time – whether they’re 15 seconds, 30 seconds or 60 – can be quite expensive.

In broadcast, minutes and seconds matter. A voice-over for a 30-second spot must come in at exactly that or preferably even a second or two under. If not, the domino effect of one spot running over into another’s time slot comes into play.


So whether we like it or not, as voice-over professionals, we’re expected to adjust our read to fit the timeframe.

Of course, we can ask the producer if there’s anything that can be taken out before we record. And many times this works by removing a word here or there, or by substituting a multi-syllable word with a shorter one.

Little steps like these can make a big difference when seconds count!

But if they’ve done everything they can on their end, the job must move forward.


So, how does this all tie in with curvy roads and caution signs?

Well, when we’re hired to voice one of these scripts, we can apply the same strategy as driving on a winding road.

Move through the copy at the safest speed possible, all the while keeping an eye open for the curve in the road, so to speak.


How do we identify the curves?

Take the script and look for the most important parts:
a customer’s name,
their slogan,
key phrases,
tricky pronunciations, or
words needing more emotion.
What’s left can be voiced differently.


Better yet, some parts can be handled like straight-aways. Move through them as fast as possible.

The advantage here? No speed limit!

Fly through the “www” in the web site address, a telephone number if it’s mentioned several times, or anything else that might have visuals on-screen.

Drive the read as quickly as you can. Apply the brakes when it’s critical. Get there on time.


You know, we also need to be mindful of these on the road we call Life.

The only difference is that they manifest themselves in the form of health issues, spiritual anemia and relationship problems.

I’m pretty sure this is one area where the “good ‘ol days” probably were. Our 24/7 work schedules owe their existence to the Internet and the opportunity to find customers in several different time zones.

Erased from our memories are Blue Laws, a day of rest, and one or two family vacations per year.


Yet I’m convinced that applying the brakes in our personal lives on a daily, weekly and annual basis helps our journey become richer and more meaningful.

By allowing ourselves to recharge our battery, so to speak, and refuel with things we enjoy that aren’t work related, our business only stands to benefit.

We also become better equipped to negotiate the hairpin turns everyone eventually comes upon …illness, family issues or death.

And let’s be honest, we probably won’t be on our deathbed wishing we’d spent more time working.


Our jobs continually threaten to overrun our personal lives. This is especially true for those of us who are self-employed.

Herein lies the challenge. So how will we respond?

If we look at it the same way as driving on a winding road, we have two choices:
Keep moving forward, full-speed ahead, or
Apply the brakes so we don’t crash emotionally, spiritually or physically. Worse yet, take the risk of not staying in our own lane!


I love the quote from Adrian Rogers, “Decisions determine destiny.”

We don’t always have control over every aspect of our life. This is one we do.

So when faced with a voice-over script that Mark Twain would apologize for, remember that it’s no different than a curvy back road.

We’re in control of the read.

When work threatens to overrun our personal lives, remember the risk of crashing emotionally, spiritually or physically.

And the next time we feel disdain for one of those yellow, diamond-shaped caution signs, let’s appreciate why they’re posted in the first place. For our own good.

Valentine's Favorites

Lisa Rice wrote this.

“The art of love… is largely the art of persistence.” -Albert Ellis

Looking for a great story to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Below are a few of my favorites. What are some of yours?

A true love story…

Letter in the Wallet

Some flicks…

Wives and Daughters

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

The Count of Monte Cristo

Pride and Prejudice

Far and Away

Becoming Jane

John Adams

Jane Eyre

The Notebook

And tunes…

At Last

Fix You

This Kind of Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Magic of You

Lisa Rice wrote this.

In voice over, one of the foremost things every talent can bring to a project is themselves. Literally. We each come fully loaded at birth with an incredible package of uniqueness. Combine our life experiences, personality and individual perspective and one script can be interpreted multiple ways.

If you’re not familiar with biometrics take a moment to learn more here. The movie Minority Report highlights ways this technology might be used with advertisers in the future. See the short snippet below.

But before you go there, treat yourself to the fascinating information from this TED talk. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Each of us can rejoice in this fact!

Voices of Christmas

Lisa Rice wrote this.

It’s that time of year again.


It’s hard to remember a time when DVDs and 24/7 cable access didn’t exist. A time that meant particular television shows came around only once a year. Children would huddle around a wood-grain Magnavox television console in their footie pajamas sipping hot cocoa and wait for “TV Specials” to begin.

Charlie Brown and his pitiful Christmas tree. Rudolph returning from the Island of Misfit Toys. The Grinch and his despicable ways.

Who were all the voices behind these beloved characters? American Profile has the answers. My guess was right on a few of them but several surprised me. So, what do Tony the Tiger and the Grinch have in common? Learn more here.

Below are a few of my favorite Christmas TV Special scenes. What are yours?

Living Beyond Ourselves

Lisa Rice wrote this.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
~ John Bunyan

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.”
~ Proverbs 3;27

“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”
~ Helen Keller

“Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
~ Luke 6:38

Time. Talent. Treasure.
Three valuable aspects of our lives.
What are we doing with them?

What’s stopping us from volunteering a few hours at a local non-profit, offering our services pro bono to a ministry or donating a portion of our paycheck to one of many charities in need of assistance around the world?

It’s up to each of us to assess how we spend our time, talent and treasure. But I’ve found that turning the focus off of myself and onto others makes life richer, satisfying and overwhelmingly wonderful.

Giving, sharing, making a difference. Living beyond ourselves.

Compassion International

Samaritan’s Purse

Ronald McDonald House

TransWorld Radio

Mercy Ministries

Prison Fellowship

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

National Right to Life

Gideon’s International

Caring Bridge

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” ~ Francis Chan

´ - previous posts                 newer posts + ª