Want to tank your career as a broadcaster or voiceover artist? One of the quickest ways to lose credibility with your listeners, producers, or anyone who hires you to do voiceover work is to mispronounce a word. This is especially true of names of cities, streets, products, and people.
And we all know it happens all too often. I have had to correct more than one client here in the D.C. area when they pronounced this street name, “Grosvenor,” incorrectly. It is pronounced “Grove-ner” and not “Grows-ven-or.” Broadcasters new to the city always get it wrong!
So how do you avoid these mistakes? For reporters or anchors, I suggest you start a practice list of difficult words as soon as you move to a new market. Ask someone local to pronounce a difficult word for you and record it.
The same applies if you get a script to read for a voiceover assignment. Don’t guess! Ask or go to a source to get the correct pronunciation! Trying to wing it will sound much worse than pausing to correct it before you read.
For general words that might present a challenge, I love the Apple app, (How to) Pronounce. It’s an easy way to quickly check words. Be sure to change the voice to American English, though, because the default seems to be British. In addition, this app allows you to hear words pronounced in numerous other languages.
There are also many on-line dictionaries that now have audio pronunciations of words. Check this one out Dictionary.com
For names and places in the news, The Voice of America offers VOA’s Pro*nounce where you can hear native speakers saying 7000 words and names in the news.
Tell me where you go to find correct pronunciations? Leave a comment below, and we’ll share our sources.
And you’ll find a list of Frequently Mispronounced Words in the Appendix of the fifth edition of BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK.
Get it instantly by ordering on the Voice Book page.