How Do You Read?

by | Voice Over

Many voiceover actors have various ways to approach their scripts. I like to read through them, break them down and choose my approach, based on the specs, if there are any. If there aren’t specs, then I must make an educated guess, based on keywords, and phrasing within the text.

Of course,  such proper analysis and preparation occurs when there’s a ton of time and all the stars and planets have aligned and it’s a perfect world. In the heat of the moment, there may be 3+ auditions to record, plus several paying jobs waiting in cue to be recorded or edited and phones are ringing, al requiring swift attention. That’s when I call in my shorthand script analysis, jot some notes, adjust, and let the words roll and flow.

Back to the perfect world when there’s plenty of time…Next I figure out the attitude and practice reading the script out loud. If it’s for an audition, I’ll print the script and mark it, using pencil. I’ll record 3-4 takes, each with a bit of a different flavor, emphasis, nuance , breathing, cadence or pitch. 

If it’s a commercial, I read just for time and adjust to fit the specs, once again, allowing my internal stopwatch to take over. Then I’ll go back and feel more in the moment, and being more familiar with the copy and the internal stopwatch going, I’ll work to make it a great take.

On longer forms of narration, there’s generally not a lot of time to do this for 10+ pages. That’s when I let my eyes read ahead . My brain engages, and what comes out of my mouth comes last, somehow comes out correctly.  The technique is something one must work at. I call that function my internal “GPS”. It comes in handy when one must cold or site read.

Speaking of a good read, Stephanie has an excellent “Vital Signs”article today which poses the question ; Has the Internet Changed The Way You Interpret Copy?

One thing I confess I must work on is staying in the moment of the read, instead of self-directing each line or even specific words ad nauseum. It just plain sounds better to let it roll and flow! More on this topic later.


  1. Bobbin, I would be interested in hearing a bit more about your paragraph that starts with “On longer forms of narration…” I turn these jobs away all the time because for some reason I simply have never been able to flow smoothly on longer form narration.

    Commercials, promos etc. are generally fine because I can read over them 3-4 times to get my mind/tongue/mouth all moving in the same direction, but you can’t do that on long form jobs.

  2. Brian,
    For me, I usually take time to review the script, internalize the character’s approach, and slow down the read a bit.  I have to keep telling myself that I don’t need to nail the script in :30 or :60!

    After the first couple of pages, my internal  “GPS” kicks in, and my eyes are reading ahead of what is coming out of my mouth. My brain  is in the middle of this of course, and has the time to process what’s coming so my mouth, vocal infleaction and tongue engage and articulate on proper cue. Of course this must all happen and not sound like you’re reading, but telling a story.

    I hope I have explained this so it’s understandable to anyone else besides me! This takes practice, and the result is not always flawless, especially if the script has typos, improper syntax, grammar, a lot of tricky technical jargon or the likes of 6 syllable words, which occur frequently in many scripts I work with.

    I appreciate your comments, here Brian.
    All The Best,

  3. Bobbin:
    Thanks for post!
    Narrations can be the best of voiceover projects. Sometimes it all comes down to ‘acting the part’ (technical person or warm narrator for example) and stay that way for one – and sometimes 20 pages!

  4. Bobbin, thanks so much. I had a 7 minute narration today and one a bit shorter…I slowed down and really tried to stay in the “character”, as it were, and it really went well…

  5. Brian,
    Fantastic! I am so glad that ol’ eye-brain-mouth coordination was working well for you today!

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