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PSA Pie - Dishing It Out To The Public
Doesn't Always Mean Playing Sad

August 20, 2014

By 'VO Chef' Deb Munro
Voice Actor & Coach

PSA Pie recipe:
  • Lay out one voice over home studio
  • Fill with good quality equipment
  • Add one or more voice talent skilled in empathy and subtly
  • Add client who wants to touch heartstrings
  • Read one Public Service Announcement (PSA)
  • Sprinkle with realism and connection  
PSA’s are not just the sad commercials you see and hear on TV and radio. The more heart-felt commercials quickly come to mind of course, but there are many types of PSA’s. 

Most are emotional and work at tearing at your heartstrings, but the voice actor also needs to know how to take out the emotion and deliver the spot with hope and solution. 

In fact, sometimes playing opposite the sad part of the commercial can create a very successful recipe.     


Of course, the client truly wants you to connect to the viewer/listener’s emotionally. So this requires the performer to know how to completely connect and care about the script, just as much as the client would.   

If you are working with a script that is sad, playing on the sadness isn’t always the best choice.

For instance, sometimes we experience a nervous or distant chuckle when we are sad or shocked. So playing opposite to the sadness might be a good choice. 


PSA's can also cook up opportunities to play with the intimacy of the microphone.

If you know and understand microphone placement, this is a chance to test how well you  work with your studio microphone.

Keep in mind that many listeners are hearing you via headphones, so you’re speaking right into their ear. Speak close to the microphone - which forces you to talk intimately - and visualize the mic as a human ear.

Speak with care about the topic, mean what you say, and feel the scene. 

This is the best way to bring this kind of recipe to it’s fullest potential. 

Deb Munro is a leading and award-winning voice talent and coach based in Toronto. She offers private voice over coaching by phone and Skype, and workshops on voice acting, business and demo prep in many Canadian cities.


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Comments (3)
Paul Bellantoni
9/5/2014 at 6:56 PM
Great timing for me! I read this last week just before an audition for a a PSA for HUD, and just found out I booked it!
Debby Barnes
8/20/2014 at 1:27 PM
You definitely know how to 'dish', Deb. Yet again more thyme-ly sage advice from someone who knows just where to sprinkle it! :)
Kathryn Harlton
8/20/2014 at 9:51 AM
Thanks, Deb,
This is excellent advice! Something I never would have thought about.
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