How to write a voiceover script
Writing voiceovers is a tricky business. It is not enough to think as an author but work as an editor yourself. Quite frequently, you also have to work as a director to understand the instructions you will provide to professional voice artists or the AI voice generator. Your voiceover script is your main script, and the narration style inside your head is your cheat sheet, and your final voiceover should be a confluence of the two. It can sound a little daunting, but it is far from difficult if you keep a few things in mind before you are all set to tell your story.
Let’s take a look at some basic ideas you can follow to write an effective script :
Before Writing the Script
Know your audience
When you are writing your script, you know exactly who is going to resonate with the message you are sending out. Even though this person is lurking at the back of your mind, you can make your script sharper if you flesh out the persona of this person. Ask yourself some basic questions like their age, what gender they ascribe to, what would they hope to find in this message, and what mood do you want to translate?
These questions might sound like a list right out of customer research or even character research for a film. So, borrow from wherever, when you are trying to understand your audience. And once you have answers to the questions, bring them together to create a fictional persona to whom you are speaking. This step will help you immensely as you are making edits later.
How to write the Script
Write like you’d speak
It is not uncommon advice given to voiceover scriptwriters, but it is an indispensable one. As we are used to writing for someone’s eyes and not ears, we end up bringing our hang-ups to our voiceover texts. So a good way to begin writing would be speaking the words out loud. But when you do this, remember you are both a writer and the fictional persona you just imagined. You have to find the right words that will get the message across, with the right emotional impact. Pay close attention to how your words and delivery would affect the listeners and is it the effect you are going for?
Be as clear as possible
A few writers tend to believe that it is the right pronunciations and tone by voice actors or a realistic voice generator that will determine the clarity of the voiceover. Instead, the clarity should begin at the level of writing and we will soon discuss a few ways in which you can ensure consistency, clarity, and a good flow in your voiceover scripts. Before we get to that, before you even start writing, you can condense the core message that you wish to convey in a single sentence. Working around this core message will help you ensure that you are not straying too far from the message in the limited span of your voiceover.
Every time you are done with a draft, it would be ideal to refer back to the core message, and even for the delivery, it can act as a reference.
Edit it again and again
Once you have worked your way through the script, it's time to put down the writer’s hat and wear an editor's hat. This is when you will seize to look at the script as your work but as someone else’s. This distance is essential because this part will help you shed a lot of fillers and streamline your script for effective communication. Ideally, by the end of this exercise, you will be able to give minimal instructions or directly run it through the AI text to speech software and get the voiceover you were looking for.
Editing your own work can be tedious so you can take help from an editor, as another set of eyes on the script can recognise the flat or redundant sentences that you could have missed in the process. It also greatly helps to understand if they are able to hear in the script what you are envisioning.
This brings us to the next point :
As it is evident by now that your voiceover scripts are not merely a few words on a paper to be narrated by an artist or to be rendered through an AI voice generator, it is your guidebook. All your research on your audience that has led to a tone and mood in your script has to strike the voiceover professional clearly and immediately. So all the intonations and pauses have to be inscribed into your script so that when you look at it, you would not have to demonstrate or iterate the style of narration each time. Another interesting way to incorporate your directions is to separately write a short note to your artists or as a reference for yourself when you are generating the voiceover. This section of directions can include a description of the effect you are trying to achieve, how to read your script for specific directions for pauses and inflections, or even the pitch and speed of the narration.
Sample Voiceover Script
Here is an example of a 30-second voice script for an e-learning website that provides corporate soft skills training. This script is developed for a Murf’s realistic voice generator that separates each sentence and allows you to make intricate changes in punctuations and emphasis. When working with an AI text to speech, you can change the pauses according to the voice you choose from the library of Murf’s AI voices.
Soft skills training :
To advance in your career [pause x-weak], learning soft skills has become as crucial as acquiring a degree. These skills determine how well you fit into the environment of an enterprise [pause medium], how well you can work with the team [pause medium], and deal with the challenges that come your way [pause strong]. Communication skills, [pause medium] Adaptability, [pause medium] Ability to work with a team, Time Management, [pause medium] and Problem-solving [pause strong]. Find out how to develop these soft skills through our podcasts and training videos [pause x-weak] on www. learnthatskill [pause x-weak] .com
To make your script stand out, there are some pro tips you can keep in mind at the development stage of your script. These may seem basic but are often ignored which leads to unsatisfactory scripts and a difficult editing process.
Use Short Sentences
No matter how powerful, you will have to cut down that long sentence. It is not just difficult for your voiceover artist to deliver it clearly, even if you are using an AI voice maker, your listeners might not be able to follow the meaning of your sentence. So it's important to keep your sentences short and crisp.
Use Active Voice
It is usually a good exercise to write your sentences in the active voice which gives a clear and direct tone to your writing. It becomes even more important to convey your thoughts in the active voice in your voiceovers which are essentially speaking to your audience directly. There is a general tendency to incorporate passive voice to make the scripts sound formal, yet all the writers and good editors will concede that the active voice is a clearer form of communication, for both formal and informal writing.
Pauses and Emphasis
Punctuations in writing generally show soft pauses or the end of a sentence. Though the use of a period remains consistent, commas can be used creatively in your scripts.
As you would notice, when it comes to a voiceover script, the pauses are often and sometimes at different places than in a written script. At such places where the recitation demands a pause for emphasis, you could add commas in your scripts or directly mention the word ‘pause’ with the length of the pause, i.e., weak, strong, etc which will allow you to adapt the script in a voice maker such as Murf Studio, easily.
Often overlooked, transitions are an efficient way to create a flow in your writing, by placing transitions at the right junctures to carry the thought across sentences. With transitions such as ‘hence’, ‘therefore’ or even words like ‘again’, ‘besides’ bring to your listener's attention that the thought in the following sentence is connected to the former. In this way, it becomes easy to create a cause-and-effect relationship between different thoughts and ideas through different sentences.
This is a bonus point for you especially if you are using AI voices instead of hiring a voiceover professional.
Once you have inserted your script into an AI voice generator and have adjusted the speed, pitch, pauses, and emphases, you can pull a background score from a diverse collection of royalty-free music available within the Murf Studio. But while adding a background score, it's important to pay attention to the voice to music ratio so that your voiceover is neither drowned in the background score nor does it overpower the music completely.
To find the right music to go with your voiceover, look for the mood and tempo of your narration that will give a sense of the beat of the music you are looking for. Good background music can add that edge and elevate your voiceovers; or at times, it evens out the rough edges in your voiceover by enhancing the tone and mood with shifts in the tempo of the music.
As a reference, check out this short video on how to add emphasis to your voiceovers in Murf Studio. You will notice that the background music is soft and does not impede the voiceover, and the tempo changes only towards the end after the core message of the voiceover has already been conveyed.