Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

Voice Prompt Script Tips

UPDATE 01/21/2011: Check out this blog post for more information.

With contributions from Senior Script Consultant, Rob Lefever

Scripting a voice prompt for a client or voiceover talent is a challenging and delicate process– the writer has to navigate the English language like a game of minesweeper, watching out for ambiguous or alternate pronunciations.

We’ve all had friendly lunch-break debates over “CAH-fee” or “CAW-fee”, “poh-TAY -toe” or “poh-TAH-toe,” but a simple mispronunciation on a message on hold can be disastrous.

 The following are a few script writing tips on how to organize an accurate voice prompt so your voiceover talent, and ultimately, your client, receives their “ad-ver-TISE-ment” and not their “ad-VER-tiz-ment”:

  • It’s always best to acquire pronunciations verbally from a client over the phone.
  • Rhyming words – for example, tell the voice talent to pronounce “rouge” like “luge.”
  • For company names, call their business line and hear how they pronounce their name.
  • Online dictionary is a reliable option, but be careful to identify what dialect / region the pronunciation borrows from.

However, finding the right pronunciation is only half the battle. Voice prompts are like stage direction in a play – they are cues for the voiceover talent to shape their tone around the words. Spell out phonetics in a “new” way, with the accented syllable capitalized: for example, Productivity is restructured as “proe duk TIV ih tee.”

Here are some common “lookout” words:

Address (noun), Ambience, Consultative, Forest, Gala, Inclimate/Inclement, Jewelry, Leisure, Multi-, Plaza, Prestige, Process, Realty, Semi-, Via, Veterinary

Hopefully these tips have helped facilitated the script-writing "PRAH-cess" (or PRO-cess).


CLICK HERE for the Holdcom  Script Tips "Greatest Hits" Compilation

Tags: resources, tips, phone menu prompts