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How to Write a Great Voiceover

Friday, November 18th, 2011 by Lauren Gudath

No question about it: video and animations are hotter than ever. You can post them on your site to highlight a product or service—or use them on YouTube and other social sites to connect with customers. And with the advent of smart phones with decent video cameras, it’s never been easier to make a quick video.

Whether your footage is formal or informal, a scripted voiceover ties everything together and keeps viewers focused on your message.

When writing a script for your voiceover, consider these factors:

  • Length: Decide in advance about how long the video will be. You’ll need about 65-70 words of script for every 30 seconds of video. If you’re letting Word do the counting for you, remember that phone numbers and URLs are more than one word. For example, “contentbureau.com” would count as four words in a voiceover—content bureau dot com—not one. Consider putting URLs and phone numbers on the closing screen of your video to get more time for higher-value content.
  • Key message: A short voiceover may only have breathing room to make one or two points. Decide on what you want the viewer to take away from the video, and focus on that. While B2B messaging can be a little dense and nuanced, a B2B voiceover doesn’t have to be. Ditch your elevator pitch, and instead write with lively, conversational language that complements your visuals.
  • Readability: Keep the language simpler than you might in another asset, especially if your “voice talent” is not a professional. Avoid consonance, assonance, and alliteration—repeating the same sounds in short succession—to prevent whomever is reading the script from getting stuck in a tongue-twister. Finally, use short, crisp sentences as the building blocks of your voiceover. Long sentences with lots of clauses can be harder to read with a natural cadence, and hard for viewers to follow.

Want a few more tips for keeping things lively? Check out this post from Bobbie—Content Bureau’s own former voiceover actor.

is a member of the Content Bureau editorial team.

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The Business of Copywriting

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