Voicing Emotional Copy During a Depressing Time

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on December 10, 2020

COVID predictions for the coming months show that we may see illness and deaths at a level never seen before.  That tells me broadcasters are going to need to convey some very sad information and statistics to their listeners, even sadder than what we’ve heard so far in 2020.

To understand the importance of using the correct delivery at difficult times like this, take a second and imagine you’re at home waiting to hear a loved one admitted to the hospital with COVID.  Do you want the doctor or nurse you finally talk to to sound like they can’t control their own panic about this medical crisis?  Certainly not.  Do you want them to sound cold and distant?  No.  You want to hear a voice that reflects a level of caring about your loved one.

That’s the way the sad COVID stories of the coming months need to sound.  You want to be that compassionate, caring voice that fits the situation.

You voiceover artists face this question often, when you’re voicing a sad section in a novel.  You may need that same level of compassion.

So how do you alter your delivery to relate sad information effectively?

If you don’t think you sound compassionate enough when reading sad copy, try creating the other person who is your listener.  Right now imagine a person. This person should not be a vague, nebulous image.  Pick a real person who you are comfortable talking with and can imagine very vividly–a sister, friend, coworker, or next-door neighbor.

Imagine the feedback the person gives you when you talk to them.  Do they nod?  Do they look interested?  What are they feeling?  It’s this feedback that will allow you to adjust your delivery to sound conversational even if you’re reading a script.  When the listener’s feedback is missing, we forget some of the essentials about how to sound conversational.

If this sounds impossible to accomplish, think about a time you talked on the phone to a friend and had to deliver bad news.  You instinctively did what I just described.  You imagined how your friend would react to the news, and you changed your delivery accordingly.

So as we trudge through the upcoming months, think more about how your listener might respond to the news you’re delivering.  And if you’re a voiceover artist, try applying this technique when you have a sad or upsetting read in a script.  Your listeners will hear the difference.

If you want to read about this technique of voicing in more detail, click here to go to my book, BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK, which goes into it in detail.  You can download it instantly.

 

 

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