Imagine you're the business owner of a bicycle shop, and you’ve decided it would be beneficial to produce a radio advertisement for your business. As you sit down to formulate the script for your advertisement, you realize there is a lot you want to say, but you only have a short time to say it - 60 seconds to be exact. Here are some tools to put in your scriptwriting gearbox so you can go the distance in the right amount of time.
Define Your Goal
Before you begin writing, you need to define the goal of your voiceover. This will form the foundation of your script, and your script forms the foundation for the rest of the production process. Once you have a solid goal, you can begin putting pen to paper and also begin considering music styling, audio sweetening, and other sound design choices to enhance your radio voiceover.
As you consider the intent of your radio advertisement, you realize the holiday season is quickly approaching and decide the goal of your commercial is to encourage consumers to purchase bikes as presents for loved ones.
How This Impacts Your Voice Talent: By clearly outlining the goal of your voiceover, your voice actor will be able to see where the project started, where it is headed, and the desired outcome of the voiceover session.
Integrate the Style of Your Business
After you've defined the goal of your radio advertisement, you need to integrate the style of your business into the message. From the first day you opened your bicycle shop, you've always prided yourself on being the best bike authority in town - from purchasing to repairs - and you offer the largest selection of merchandise. Maybe you even decide to have a holiday season special to attract more customers. These are all points you’ll want to utilize to convey your goal and make your business stand out from the competition.
How This Impacts Your Voice Talent: By integrating the style of your business into your script you’re able to begin envisioning the voice talent style that will best portray your message - would you prefer a booming, smooth, and clever voice or a confident, adaptable and gritty voice?
Writing for Time
Because you only have 60 seconds to make an impression on the listener, you have to make every word count. And speaking of word count, a general rule of thumb for script word count is as follows:
> For 30 seconds, aim for 70-90 words maximum.
> For 60 seconds, aim for 140-160 words maximum.
Of course, you can always double-check for time the old fashioned way by reading your script out loud to yourself in the voice talent style you envision.
A tool to help you land within the above word count guidelines is to write your script in the active voice (subject-verb-object) instead of the passive voice (object-verb-subject). To illustrate, which of the following sentences has more impact?
- “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
- “Why was the road crossed by the chicken?”
The first sentence is written in the active voice and is more impactful (and it’s shorter, even if only by one word). The trick to writing in the active voice is to be on the lookout for “to be” phrases, such as “is, am, are, was, were, being, been.” Basically, you want to write how you would say it, but remember that natural doesn’t mean sloppy.
How This Impacts Your Voice Talent: Crafting your script within the allotted time frame and in the active voice enables your voice actor to maximize your message and have an efficient recording session because changes will not need to be made to the script at the last minute.
Help Listeners Take Action
It’s no secret that a good commercial has a strong call to action. Most often, the call to action is at the end of a radio script - if not scattered a few times throughout - so it will stick in the minds of the listeners. To accomplish this, be sure to use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm and back up your call to action with a unique selling point (how your product is different from your competitors).
For your bike shop advertisement, your call to action will most likely tell listeners to either stop by the shop, visit your website, or give a call for more information. And if you were to decide to implement a holiday sale, that could be your unique selling point.
How This Impacts Your Voice Talent: Both you and your voice talent know the attention span of consumers is short. Keeping the call to action straightforward and memorable will help you keep your script and recording session simple.