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How To NOT Sound Like An Announcer
When You're Reading Announcer Copy ...
February 19, 2016

By Hugh Klitzke
Casting Director and Coach

Hugh MacLeod (great first name) - cartoonist and author of Evil Plans (great title) - wrote in one of his cartoons:  

"If you talked to people the way advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face.”  

There is great irony in this statement for me, because I remind people in classes all of the time that you cannot, not, NOT sound like an announcer when reading "announcer” copy and expect to be hired to work in the year 2016.

And yet, the copy is still written like, well, announcer copy.   

So what do we do? 

We talk to people we know. We make it as personal and connected as possible. And we imagine a reason to talk to someone, say - your best friend…    

Q: Who am I talking to?  
A: Drew - my best friend.  

Q:  Why am I talking to him, and not Tony?   
A:  Because Drew doesn’t have kids (or a girlfriend) and Tony does.  

Q: Where are we?  
A:  My kitchen.   

Q: Why not at Drew’s place?   
A:  Because I’m sharing the beer I really like with Drew in my place on a weeknight.    Because Drew doesn’t have somewhere else to be. He has the time.  

Ready? Here's that voice over to try:
VO: Hey -  if life were perfect, magazines would never smell like perfume, dogs would walk themselves, and algebra would really come in handy. Well, look on the bright side, at least there’s AMSTEL LIGHT. It has only 95 calories, but you still get real imported taste. You don’t give up a thing. Who says nothing’s perfect?  Amstel Light.
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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Comments (9)
Bill Kovach
2/24/2016 at 3:19 PM
Changing the cadence of the copy and also the punctuation ( moving the commas ) will help make it more conversational.
2/24/2016 at 10:02 AM
I totally agree with the other comments. This is not a conversational script. It's not at all how someone would tell someone this information and to make it conversational. I'd ad lib all over it.
Jim Snedeker
2/23/2016 at 1:47 PM
I still find it very difficult to read announcer copy as if I'm talking with my friend in a kitchen. Reason is because that's not how people talk to each other. I've tried this exercise and I still sound like a commercial.
2/22/2016 at 9:11 PM
Grateful for the spot! I am an announcer on radio so there lies somewhat of a challenge, but it should not be too hard to execute! Thanks again.
Joe Toy
2/22/2016 at 4:29 PM
Just be conversational. Listen to the first playback and adjust emphasis and tone as and if needed. As a voice actor you may have to take on a character persona such as a slight British accent, for instance, Rex Harrison. Relax and enjoy what you do best. And to Hugh, thank you.
Richard J Dolmat
2/22/2016 at 8:10 AM
Great summary of this technique. We teach something similar in our VO workshops as well!

Paul Garner
2/20/2016 at 6:43 PM
Excellent advice, Hugh! Thanks for the article. We can all use a reminder like this.
2/19/2016 at 11:53 AM
I'm new to VO, but it drives me crazy when I read some of the terrible advertising copy. Maybe I should become a writer, too. Or, maybe the VO industry needs to go to the source of the problem -- the writers. Could some of our trade groups reach out to advertising schools and talk to them about writing copy that actually sounds like real conversation? I went to University of Missouri School of Journalism with a major in Broadcast News. Even in news, they taught us that if you wouldn't say it that way, don't write it that way. So, how do we get that across to the advertising industry???
Pablo Plumey
2/19/2016 at 3:53 AM
I'm sure that whoever is facing this situation, putting in practice Mr. Klitzke's recommendations will improve the read of any script. Thanks for your advice and suggestions.
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