Directing a voice-over talent you’ve hired to read a spot
for, say, dog food is pretty much the same as directing a
great actor in a scene in a major film production. Well,
almost the same. Go with me here.
It’s all about action.
The end result of the performers’ action in both
situations is a reaction from the audience. A successful
performance in the dog food commercial gets the listener to
buy the product. The well-acted movie gets the viewer to buy
into the world it creates. Independent filmmaker, Steve
Pak, writes: “…the goal is to tell a story
dramatically rather than didactically, which means
characters do things rather than explain things.”
To get listeners to buy
your product or service, you need to get the voice actor to
actually do something with the copy, not think
about what they’re doing with the copy. Mr. Pak observes:
“The challenge for directors is to stop talking about
results and start talking about process.” In other words,
it’s what happens during the journey, not just arriving at
the destination, that’s most important to the story.
Mr. Pak’s key to talking
about process is the use of action verbs, not adjectives.
How does this work with a piece of commercial copy? Let’s
take our example of dog food. We’ll call our brand “Stinkalicious.”
It’s a wet, canned food. Now, Stinkalicious’s unique
selling proposition is that it only stinks to dogs! Yes,
when you open a can of new, genetically altered
Stinkalicious dog food, only your dog can smell the
disgusting aromas that always appeal best to dogs. It’s
these non-aromatic aromas that cause Rover to come a runnin’.
Next, let’s say your
research into the most effective copy approach leads you to
a discovery: people don’t find stinky things humorous.
Surprisingly, the best choice is straight copy, delivered
with an authoritative demeanor, written to convey the sense
of relief from stinkiness the purchaser feels every time he
or she opens a can of Stinkalicious.
Now here’s where action
verbs come into your direction to the voice talent. Instead
of saying to the actor, ““When you get to the line about
relief from stinkiness…be happy that people will be
relieved,” say, “When you get to that line, convince,
Jane, the listener, to really agree with you.” By
using action verbs instead of adjectives, the voice actor
doesn’t have to think, "Now I'm supposed to be
getting happy." Instead, the talent can concentrate
completely on actually convincing the listener of the
happiness to be found with stink-free Stinkalicious.
That’s motivation and that’s what the talent needs to
make a piece of copy come alive and be persuasive
words of Steve Pak, “Action verbs lead to specific action
through which actors discover and experience emotions --
resulting in compelling performances.” Not just in
feature films, but voiceovers, too.
Drew provides voiceovers worldwide and across the galaxy
(“Starfleet Command, do you read me?”) from his
ISDN-equipped studio in Connecticut.