Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

Emphasizing the Right Words for Professional Audio Recordings

Recently, we asked some of our voice talent some of their favorite tips for creating great recordings. Our voice talent Joan responded with a tip about correctly emphasizing words and how to know which words to emphasize when writing or recording audio marketing scripts. It all comes down to meaning.Microphones - Tips from Voice Over Talent about Emphasizing words

Here’s an example. Read the following sentence out loud: “She was pretty.” Now, read it again. Which word did you emphasize? “She”, “was”, or “pretty?” Depending on where you placed the emphasis, the meaning of the entire sentence can change. Listen to the following three audio clips, each emphasizing a different word (in caps):

  1. SHE was pretty.
  2. She WAS pretty.
  3. She was PRETTY.

Based on the emphasis given, each of these sentences has a different meaning:

  1. “SHE was pretty” implies this particular woman was pretty, in comparison to any men or other women present.
  2. “She WAS pretty” implies she “used to be” pretty and may or may not still be.
  3. “She was PRETTY” implies that she wasn’t ugly, and that her beauty is noteworthy.

The correct emphasis can help you convey your copy with the correct meaning. Knowing which words to emphasize can also make your script more powerful. Joan suggests focusing on quantifiers and adjectives. Which words are these?

The following sentences each contain a quantifier:

  •  We always treat you like an individual.
  •  We’re Number 1 in Customer Service.
  • Financing as low as 1.9%.

Quantifiers should be emphasized because they’re generally important words that highlight the best of products and services. Quantifiers, as implied by the name, express some kind of number or amount, whether it’s countable or not. Above, “always” is an amount of time, although it’s not a concrete number. “Number 1” and “1.9%” are more obviously expressing quantification.

Adjectives are words that should also be emphasized. Adjectives are words that describe a noun, like “red” or “old.” You will also want to describe adverbs, which are words that describe a verb, like “quickly.” The following sentence has several adjectives:

  • “Our well appointed rooms, attentive staff, and other lavish amenities are like nothing you’ve ever experienced.”
  •  “Well-appointed,” “attentive,” and “lavish” are adjectives that should be emphasized—they’re highlights of the hotel being described, and callers will want to hear about these features.

If you hit the words “well appointed,” “attentive,” and “lavish,” you’re emphasizing the best features of the hotel. You would also want to emphasize “nothing,” because it’s a quantifier.

Emphasizing the right words helps you accurately describe your business, products, and services. Whether you are making your own Message On Hold recording or using professional voice talent, be sure to consider which words should be emphasized.

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Tags: tips, voice talent, scriptwriting