Direction Without Directing

If you’ve ever painted a room, you know prepping, detail work and clean up afterward can often take more time than actual painting. Voice over is much the same.

Some project directors prefer to listen in during a recording session. Others like to review the script on the phone. And still others choose to send copy without any conversation beforehand. While this option takes less time up front it can also be lacking. It’s like a shot in the dark for both parties. Specifying a few things when sending the finalized script can save more time in the long run. And as the saying goes, time is money.

Keep in mind, the following directions can be included in the body of your email or recorded and attached as an mp3. Whatever works best!

Style Preference?

Listen to the demos. Find a part that best matches what you have in mind or if you know of a video online with a similar read send a link.

How Much Energy?

Looking at your script as a car ride, consider the drive you want viewers/listeners to take. If your script has a problem and solution, energy might be low at the beginning but higher when the solution is introduced. Perhaps you want a luxury feel. Energy should stay even throughout. Partial to conversational reads? No problem. And, of course, you always have the option of a “Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!” read.

Fast or Slow Pacing?

If we were driving the Autobahn, which phrases or words would be the straightaways and which would be curves? Straightaways can be voiced at a quicker pace. Curves need to be negotiated with a little more care.

If the voice over is for video, less time can be spent on words backed up by visuals; web addresses or telephone numbers, for instance. If the audio is for listening only, these particulars may need a little more time.

Music bed already chosen? Send a snippet or online link. It always helps set the tone.

Where to Place Emphasis?

The company or product name is typically where emphasis should be placed but there are other parts of a script that might call for special attention. This might include slogans, catchphrases or a hook line that corresponds with another part of the script. They might be found at the beginning and end or sprinkled throughout.

Inflection Direction

Do you want certain words to be voiced on a down note, up note or straight through? If you’re not quite sure, I can voice extra takes so you’ll have plenty to work with.

Many Ways to Pronounce

  • Numbers – 1,300 – one thousand three hundred or thirteen hundred?
  • Years – 2013 – two thousand thirteen or twenty thirteen?
  • Acronyms – ASCAPA-S-C-A-P or AS-CAP?
  • Street addresses – 1942 Main Street – one nine four two Main Street or nineteen forty-two Main Street?
  • Phone numbers – 1-800-301-1942 – one eight hundred, three zero one, one nine four two or one eight hundred three zero one nineteen forty-two?
  • Names – Buena Vista – bwena bista or byoona vista?
  • Dollar and cents – $33.16 – thirty-three sixteen or thirty-three dollars and sixteen cents?
  • Word preferences – associates – uh-so-she-uhts or uh-so-see-uhts

File Format?

In addition to whether you’d like an aiff, wav or mp3 with a particular bit depth and sample rate, please specify how you’d like the file to appear. Do you want the entire session untouched? Only the usable parts saved? All takes on one file or separated?

One way for shorter scripts to be recorded and edited is to have me voice one complete take followed by three successive ones of each sentence or section. When opening the file, you’ll see one long take followed by silence with a series of three short ones with silence in-between.

By the way, does the file need to be named in a specific way? Be sure to include how.


Do you prefer breaths left in, diminished, replaced with studio ambiance or silenced? If I know this ahead of time nothing will be deleted that might need to be used.

What’s Your Deadline?

What kind of turnaround time are you looking for? Some projects need to be sent back as soon as possible while others can wait a week. Specifying this ahead of time helps insure we meet your deadline.

Confirmation Please
Email communication can be tricky. Meeting an agreed upon deadline is useless if the file isn’t received on time. Servers go down. Emails can unfortunately end up in spam folders. Firewalls can be over aggressive.

Once you’ve received the audio, had a chance to review and approve it and are ready to move forward with the next phase of the project, please take a moment to confirm. This is a quick and easy way to signal that our voice over collaboration is complete. One that everyone can say is a job well done!