6 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Voice Over Scripts

Are you writing a script for a professionally voiced explainer or animated video, or a presentation or course? As a voiceover artist with 20 years under my belt, I’ve seen many a script, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to share with you some of the mistakes people make when putting their voice over scripts together. Hopefully it will give you a few tips on how you can get the most out of your voiceover!

Writing a voice over script is a different kettle of fish compared to writing an article or page of web content. This is something that is going to be read aloud rather than silently, so a different set of rules apply. So, if you want a first-time perfect voiceover that really works for your business, here are some common mistakes to avoid when writing your script.

Mistake #1: Not reading the script out loud

You’re writing a script, which is destined to be read aloud. So not test-running it is a big mistake. Most people in business tend to write formally. Whilst this is great for the written word, it actually doesn’t work when spoken. Give it a try… take something you’ve written like a news article for your website or an editorial for a magazine. Now read it out loud. How does it sound? Unnatural? I’m guessing that’s the case.

So, write your first paragraph, then read it aloud, and keep doing that all the way through. This way, you should wind up with a natural-sounding piece that works in voice.

Mistake #2: Being too formal

Whilst a professional voiceover is very skilled when it comes to making a script sound natural and conversational, there is only so much we can do without changing the actual words.

If the source material is too rigid, then as much as we spin it, it’s going to sound way too starchy. Bear in mind that you are not writing a formal document. This is going to be read aloud, so it needs to be chatty and engaging.

So, take out any overly formal or lengthy words. Definitely cast aside the ones that have multiple syllables. Replace them with softer, simpler alternatives that sound warmer when read aloud, and that people won’t have to look up in the dictionary.

This exercise won’t just transform the way your final piece comes across, it will also save you potentially fortunes in recording or animation time, with all those long-winded words cut right back. Double advantage!

Mistake #3: Not using contractions

This follows on from the advice on not going overly formal.

It’s so much easier to achieve a conversational and natural tone by using simple contractions such as we’re instead of we are, it’s in place of it is and so on. If you think about it, how often do we speak without using contractions? Not often.

Contractions really do help with script flow, and you’ll find your audience is better engaged when that happens.

Mistake #4: Using industry jargon or clichés

No one likes being bombarded with jargon and clichés, so why bog down your script with unnecessary language? Don’t forget, the longer your script, the more you’ll be laying out on video production.

So, keep it real and down to earth. Leave out those redundant, sigh-inducing phrases like leveraging, ecosystem and ideation. And definitely cut the technical terminology out too. You may know what coaxial cable and bandwidth are, but what about anyone outside your industry?

Mistake #5: Overdoing the acronyms

Everyone uses acronyms, but some of them tend to be quite specialist. What’s more, a lot of them sound ridiculous when read aloud.

As with jargon, you could well be alienating your audience by using acronyms that only industry insiders are familiar with. This could lead to early exits from your video, which could mean you’ve wasted all that time and effort.

Mistake #6: Talking in the third person

If you want to sound detached from your audience, then go ahead and talk to them in the third person. If on the other hand you want to come across as approachable, then use the first person.

All too many businesses use the third person in their content and videos. The trouble is, it comes across as overly formal. Let’s compare…

  • “Neil Williams provides professional voiceovers for businesses looking to elevate their brands.”
  • “I’m Neil Williams and I provide professional voiceovers for businesses like yours looking to elevate their brands.”

Which do you think sounds warmer and more personable? The second one of course. Plus the second one brings the audience in, which is another top tip for great engagement.

Hopefully you’ve picked up some useful tips here that you can use when you’re writing your next script. Good luck! And if you’re looking for a professional male voiceover with lashings of experience in business video narration… you know where to come! Why not discover how I sound, or get in touch to discover how I could be of service?