Often when we receive scripts or voice prompt copy for recording, the text is written beautifully and laid out logically. However, writing for the reading eye is different than scripting for a voice talent who will record the spoken word.
One of the key elements in writing for the “spoken” word as opposed to the “readable” is always to read the copy “out loud”. Hearing the text is the best way to assess if that text is exactly how you would like it to be heard by a listener or a caller, and to achieve the necessary result for the voice prompt OR promotion. We always ask that our clients read the text that they provide to us “out loud” before finalizing their copy. Here are a few reasons why.
Web Addresses, Email Addresses, and URLs
We often receive scripts or text for prompts that contain URLs that have been copied and pasted into the text body from an internet browser. This will usually result in a web address or link written as http://xxxxxxxx.xxxxx/xxxx or something similar.
How this website is supposed to sound is a key element of company branding. It’s never a good idea to assume a voice talent will intrinsically know how the brand should sound. For example, does the client need the “HTTP, colon, slash, slash dot” etc to be spoken? Oft time, the answer is no, as the majority of the population is not only aware of internet protocol, but also only needs a little information to find the website in a search engine. For example, type into your browser “marketing messages” and you will be directed to the correct link to our own website. Furthermore, a caller listening to a voice prompt that contains a long URL may not have a pencil and paper to write down long strings of information. So, generally speaking, a web address or URL, when spoken, does not need to have the “HTTP, colon, slash, slash dot” part or even the “www” as part of the voiced prompt. It’s important to be specific and to include in the script only the words to be voiced, and in the way the scripter wants a caller to hear them.
If for some reason, our clients need to have the full URL as a part of their message, we always prefer it if is written or spelled out in words that are clear for the voice talent, with spaces and dashed to indicate words to be spoken versus words to be spelled out, or letters to be pronounced individually, e.g. “h-t-t-p colon, slash, slash.. etc., etc.“. This ensures the voice talent will speak the web address exactly as the scripter intends.
While we try to guide our clients to think of the end product, the spoken word, rather than the written, at the same time we also try to eliminate guessing at the pronunciations.
When it comes to products, company names, street names, staff names, etc., there can be no second-guessing. To the client, the pronunciation of a proper name may be obvious because the client hears and says that proper name every day. Not so to a voice talent or studio engineer!
Spoken Word: Scripting In The Voice You Want To Hear
As a precaution at Marketing Messages, we analyze script verbiage very closely in order to home in on any words that may be ambivalent in nature OR just difficult to pronounce. Occasionally we will refer to the website howjsay.com, which gives a very proper (British English) audio pronunciation of most words in the dictionary. There are also pronouncer websites for American English such as forvo.com or Merriam-Webster.com and probably quite a few more that provide an audio example for pronunciation.
Alternatively, we would ask the client to call us (or we would call them) to give us a spoken pronunciation on the phone, from which we save an MP3 file and then play it back for the voice talent (or supply the MP3 to them, if they record remotely) so that they can refer to it and get it right the first time.
One of the services we offer is our dedicated Pronunciation Voice Mailbox on our phone system. Clients can call us at 617-527-3023 or 800-486-4237 and ask for Extension 130. If our voice mail is on, they can just enter 130 at the main menu. Then all they have to do is leave us an informal message with their company name and the desired pronunciations for their project. We then copy that to an MP3 and send it to the talent.
Last but not least, if the client can sound out or phonetically spell the word or name in question, we can write it down for the talent.
The more precise information we have, of which pronunciation is an integral part, the more efficient we and our voice talents can be. Proper scripting of websites and pronunciations means your voice recordings are delivered with each word spoken accurately the first time and can be implemented without delay.
Did I forget to cover some other aspects of how spoken word scripting for voice differs from traditional copywriting for just reading to oneself? If so, please let me know.
And of course, you can get a lot more info by contacting us directly as well.