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).