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Placeholders And Tags: How Should
You Read Them In Voice Over Auditions?
March 31, 2016

By Hugh Klitzke
Casting Director and Coach

How best to voice placeholders and tags when you encounter them in auditions?

Here’s an example of a placeholder.
SCRIPT:  So, she called ProFlowers at 1.866.XXX.XXXX for a free consultation.  
Here’s another…  
SCRIPT:  Go to URL.COM and ask your doctor if XANAFAX is right for you.  
When these particular audition scripts were drafted, the final information just might not have been available to the copywriters. So I suggest that you fill in the placeholder with something more logical on the ear.    

  • 555-1212 is a very good substitute for XXX.XXXX
  • All of those "X’s” in a row are just odd sounding and hard to say. And "” is better than "URL.COM”    
This is a moment where you don’t need to be right; you need to do what’s better for the audition. 

Now here's a tag. I wrote it. It's not a very good one.  
"Make your choice today." 
I have been asked if there is a "secret formula." A method to determine which word should be stressed in a particular sentence: 

  • Should it be on the active word "make"?
  • Should it be pointing to the consumer on "your"?
  • Possibly the object in the sentence, "choice"?
  • Or an urgency by stressing the word "today"?
Now, there's no context to this tag, and context often reveals which option would be a better one.  But all things being equal, whichever phrasing you think is the best one - and whichever read you can pull off most successfully - THAT is the read you should deliver in the audition.  

Because even if you're wrong, you will have executed with conviction and perspective. And that will always help you get the job.  

Remember, you audition to get in the room to do the work. Not to guess what an invisible "someone" listening to your audition wants. 
Hugh P. Klitzke is studio manager and voice casting director for a leading bi-coastal talent agency, who has directed more than 85,000 auditions for all voice over genres. Based in New York City, he is also a coach specializing in teaching voice over for actors, and writes VO4TA, a twice-weekly blog with helpful voice acting tips.


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