You’re making a corporate video or imagefilm. You have your vision, your storyboard, and your message finely honed. There are still some small tweaks to keep in mind before sending off that eleventh draft of the script to the voice over talent that will pay off in big ways.
A Corporate Video is not a list
A few of my repeat clients are guilty of this, and they sadly have no intention to change. It’s their corporate culture, and I respect that. To them, an corporate video is little more than parading through a checklist of their boastful claims. Everything about their product is the best. The best tube bending application in its class. The networking tool with the greatest ROI! The best water filtration system known to man. And each component of their product is the best too. Maybe the video sets out to bore the viewer in to submission, and that’s how they make a sale. I wouldn’t know. Despite this script deficiency, I do my best to make the script sound friendly and engaging – I still imagine that I’m speaking to just one person listening to the video, not a faceless large audience. I work with a microphone, not a megaphone. Listing scripts avoid the important questions, like ‘What does the client need?’ What are the challenges they are facing? How does the company engage with the client to address these needs? An engaging corporate video understands what the client is facing and presents solutions. Here’s a whiteboard video I did for OpenSpan. It’s longer than most explainer videos, but it stays focused on the client the whole way through, and that’s what I really liked about it.
One of the best ways to have a script that works for the spoken word is to use contractions. Writing “If you do not have the boxes filled in order, you should not submit the file.” sounds a touch clunky. If your legal department insists upon avoiding contractions, I can still make it sound conversational by saying ‘do not’ and ‘should not’ quickly and smoothed together, and with nice, friendly inflection.
Don’t Use “Finally”, “However”, and “Next”
These words are so horribly overused in corporate scripts! For me, they’re some of the hardest words to say – harder than Brexpiprazole – because I try to say them casually and not with the same tone each time in order to keep these dull words sounding fresh. It’s tough, because they’re filler words that don’t have much meaning. They’re the words Charlie Brown’s teacher says. When you’re making an instructional video, every step is the ‘Next’ one, so why say that? Were you worried we might think we were jumping a head to the 82nd step? I usually record three to four takes of these words and keep the one that sounds the most natural in the final edit. They’re flow-killers.
‘However’ is filler. If your writing is clear, you don’t need to use that word. The fitting can handle up to 70 psi, however, at higher pressure it becomes less reliable. There’s no need for ‘however’: a good voice over talent or speaker can make the meaning clear without the ‘however’.
It amazes me how many times I’m sent scripts that have ‘finally’ as the start of an idea when there’s no structured order of what’s being presented. When you glance through the script and see the word ‘Finally’ in every other paragraph, it’s finally time to do a re-write. And no, using ‘Lastly’ is no improvement in this case.
Avoid Long Sentences
Often long sentences are the product of not knowing how to punctuate well, or not having the ideas organized, or both. I have the experience to deal with eighty-word sentences and instinctively put the punctuation where it belongs on-the-fly; but it’s better to give the voice over talent a script with which he or she can hit the ground running. Did you notice the semicolon in that long sentence? I can’t remember the last time I saw one in a script! People don’t talk in eighty-word sentences: or, at least not in ones lacking punctuation. They talk like this: nice, short sentences.
Voice over scripts absolutely need to employ Oxford Commas. Why?
Our services include marketing to telecommunications, recording and documentation industries in Europe, as well as the oil and gas sectors.
Include the Oxford Comma, and it is read completely differently
Our services include marketing to telecommunications, recording, and documentation industries in Europe, as well as the oil and gas sectors.
So if you use the Oxford Comma regularly, then when it’s not there, I’ll know to say that ‘Recording and Documentation’ is its own industry. Without the Oxford Comma, reading a series aloud becomes a task of random guesswork.
IF YOU ARE THINKING OF SENDING YOUR TALENT A SCRIPT IN ALL CAPS, DON’T DO IT. ESPECIALLY DON’T DO IT IN ALL CAPS AND BOLD. AND IT WOULD BE SUPER-ANNOYING IF YOU ITALICIZED IT AS WELL.
Most voice over talents read their scripts off of a computer screen, iPad, or page on a stand that is two feet away. Use 12 pt. font at a minimum. Spreadsheets with the script in a narrow column with five words to a line on the side are really tricky to read aloud, as you can’t read ahead into the sentence to see where it’s going. PDFs of the story board aren’t ideal either, as the script will be too fragmented which can prevent the voice actor from having the best flow.
Don’t Forget the Dismount
So many corporate videos, especially the ones that are list-driven, fail to have any coherent ending to them. There should be some snappy summary of the challenges and solutions addressed during the video. There should be a memorable sign-off, and a detailed call to action.
Make your corporate video Business Casual: easy for the voice talent to work with and understand. Your message will be conveyed better in the resulting voice over performance, helping you to engage more with your customers.