Whether you’re a voiceover artist or a broadcaster, emotions in a script can be challenging. It’s easy to run right over them without even noticing if you’re on deadline. Let’s look at some simple ways to avoid this.
First, read through your copy out loud and make a notation where emotion changes. A simple and fast way to do this is with emoticons. Put a smiley face or an angry face in the margin so you’ll literally see there’s a change and what that change is.
If you’re reading from a teleprompter you can use any symbol that works for you that can be typed on the copy. Some anchors us //// or **** to help signal emotion changes.
I like the idea of the slash marks because another aspect of emotion is rate and pausing. If you imagine telling someone about your vacation but including the fact that they attended a funeral while there, you can probably sense that rate and pausing would change when you began telling about the funeral. In conversation it’s rare for us to keep the same rate when emotion changes. We generally use a slight pause to signal to the listener that we’re changing emotion.
So the next time you read a script, take the time to mark the emotional changes. Once you have them marked, remember to give the listener a heads up that a change is coming by including a slight pause.
If you’d like to read more about how much emotion is appropriate, especially in a news broadcast, check out this blog post I did a while back (click here). Also, check here the first of next month for Part Two on this topic. You’ll learn some exercises to help you expand your vocal skills to have a greater emotional range.
Here’s a bonus for you television journalists: Remember emotions run the gamut in news, and your wardrobe creates a big part of your credibility. Don’t get caught dressing too casually either out in the field or at the anchor desk. You never know when an ordinary day might turn into one where there’s a very emotional story such as an interview with a parent who just lost a child. If you’re a male anchor or reporter, think about the statement your tie makes (dots or bright colors, for example, would not be best for tragic stories), and ladies stay away from dresses more appropriately worn for a night out clubbing. Always think credibility when you get ready for work so your wardrobe will work with the emotions of the stories you cover.