Oftentimes video and audio are created separately with the video being recorded first, and a voiceover or narration being crafted afterwards once the editing has been done and there is a finished product.
Voiceovers are used for a range of purposes and video types and if this is something you need to do, you have to be aware of the nuances of the job. The first thing to understand is that the starting point is to create a voiceover script to read.
To help, I have created a simple guide on how to write a voice over script to get you started.
Understanding the Purpose and Audience
Before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard you must understand the purpose of the voiceover and the intended audience.
In terms of the purpose, what is the aim of the voiceover? Are you providing a comedic narration of a video? Maybe you are writing a voiceover for a nature documentary or a news feature. By understanding the video content and the need for a voiceover you can nail the tone and writing style.
In terms of audience, think about who is likely to watch the video or production. Maybe it’s a narration for a children’s video? Or perhaps it’s a learning video for high school students? By knowing the audience, you can fit the voiceover accordingly and make sure the language and tone used are suitable for the intended demographic.
Establishing the Tone and Style
With all this understanding we’ve learned above you have to then put it into practice and use the info for your writing. You could transcribe from video to text too if there is any existing audio in the video footage so you can work your script around it seamlessly.
The tone and style must always reflect the purpose of the voiceover and the video content. For example, if you were writing a voiceover for a serious crime documentary, you wouldn’t include an excess of humor.
Write the Script for Spoken Words
This might sound a little confusing but the premise is simple. Your voiceover script should reflect how people speak in conversation and not sound like an essay.
It’s a fact that we speak incredibly differently compared to how we write and if you don’t utilize that in your voiceover scripts they can be especially boring.
Write a sentence first, and then read it back as if you were saying it naturally in a conversation with someone. There is probably a difference and you should use this difference to create a voiceover that sounds natural and not written.
Structuring the Voiceover Script
The structure of voiceovers is often dictated by the video content but this doesn’t mean that you can’t segment the voiceover. Indeed, by creating a clearly defined structure you can break the script up and make it easier to write.
In most instances, a voiceover includes a sweeping introduction that explains the premise and what’s happening. The bulk of the voiceover is then typically describing the content or telling a story and may finish with a conclusion - much like an essay.
Considering Timing and Pacing
A voiceover has to be audible and easy to understand and a key to this is the timing and pacing. You can’t rush a voiceover and speak at 100MPH - the effect will be disastrous and the voiceover will likely not fit with the video content.
To reflect this in your voiceover script you could make footnotes and include a section on pacing and timing if you are not the speaker too. Also, don’t be afraid to make use of bracketed instructions such as (take a dramatic pause ).
The pacing also has to fit the tone so in some instances there could be room for faster speech, dramatization, or varying intonation depending on the audience, content, and the purpose of the voiceover.
Aligning Script With Visuals
While the pacing is important, ultimately your voiceover script has to align with the video content! It’s no good writing a short sentence that can be read in a few seconds when it’s meant to align with a sweeping aerial shot for example that lasts for 20 seconds.
Ideally, you shouldn’t try to write your voiceover in a vacuum, i.e. without watching the footage and having the footage to hand as you write. It should be a dual approach where you are continually referencing the video and watching the footage to make sure your voiceover script flows naturally and fits with the visuals.
Become a Voiceover Expert With These Simple Tips
I hope you have found this guide on how to write a voice over script useful. It’s a process that does take time and effort, and the first few you write may not be perfect. However, as you progress, the process becomes natural and you will learn to adapt your writing for audio accordingly.