Four Easy Steps to Capture Your Audience

What if I told you I can give you the secret to being able to communicate your ideas and make an impact EVERY time you speak?  Imagine… people who can't wait to hear what you have to say!  Throngs of customers, flocking to buy your product?  Wouldn't that be great?

And what if I told you it only requires 4 steps?

For all forms of communication - whether it's an intimate one-on-one conversation, a sales message to a potential client, or a formal presentation to an audience of hundreds - you only need 4 steps to guarantee your message will actually be heard.  

When used in this order, these steps will guarantee you an attentive audience.  You must...

1. Interrupt      2.  Engage      3.  Educate      4.  Offer 

A large part of my work at The Commercial Clinic is writing radio and TV commercials.  I use each of these steps every time I sit down to write.  I also use them every time I write a speech, or prepare a presentation to a prospective client.  Let's go through each step and I'll explain why they work so well.

Interrupt:  My mother always told me that it's very rude to interrupt - and in fact, it is rude in normal conversation.  However, it's a well-known fact that you can't give any kind of information to someone if you don't have their attention first.  Interrupt in this case refers to a statement or question you might ask so your audience will STOP thinking about what they are currently thinking about and START thinking about what it is you want them to hear from you.  Using an example of a commercial for a restaurant, a powerful interrupt might be "I am never going to eat ever again!"  As a listener, wouldn't you be just a little intrigued as to why I'm saying I'll never eat again?  Sure you would!  And viola!  Your current thought process has just been interrupted.

Engage:  Now that you have the attention of your audience, it's critical you keep it.  When I'm writing commercial copy, this is generally where the "story" goes.  It's something to keep them interested and listening. Again using the example of the restaurant, the next line would be something like,  "Oh, what I mean is I'm never going to each anywhere else again! – I just had the most incredible Greek food for lunch! " I  discovered Daphne's Greek Cafe and the food is amazing! "  Okay, now you're engaged and probably want to know more about what's going on at Daphne's that I'm so excited about.

Educate:  No pun intended, but this is the "meat and potatoes" of your message.  You start adding some details: "I had a delicious Greek shrimp salad, Mandi had a Gyros Pita she raved about and Cathy said the combo plate was just one incredible taste after another.  And you know, it's such a treat to find great fresh food, a friendly atmosphere, and servers that actually seem to ENJOY their work– all in the same place!"  Now the listener knows what Daphne's has to offer - they've been educated.

Offer:  Time to wrap up the package!  This is the "sell"  What action do you want the listener to take?  In a commercial, this is often the "tag" and is usually delivered by a second voice.  "Fresh, Fast, and Delicious – Daphne’s Greek Cafes.  Traditional taste with a contemporary flair. Experience a whole new world right in your own home town."

You may not think having writing talent will be valuable to you since you are only being hired to do the voice over.  But anyone who has been in the biz for long will tell you that we are often called upon to give suggestions for making a script work better.  A lot of copywriters write for the eye, not for the ear.  You can make yourself very valuable to your clients if you can offer suggestions to make their copy easier to hear.  Of course, not all producers and/or copywriters are open to suggestions, but my experience has been that most are if you approach them in the right way.

So, how can you apply these four steps as a voice talent? 

In addition to using these 4 steps as a writer, you can also use them as a voice talent.

Interrupt: Find an interesting and compelling way for your character to grab the attention of your audience. This could be done with emotion, attitude, inflection, pacing, rhythm, etc.

Engage: Discover a way for your character to tell the story in a way that keeps the audience listening. Incorporate drama, suspense, humor, or possibly a “twinkle in the eye” into your character’s delivery.

Educate: Be consistent with your character as you deliver the information content of the message. Be careful to not fall into the trap of “reading” the words just because there appears to be no story. There’s always a story that needs to be told—and information that needs to be shared.

Offer: If you look at the call-to-action as having the purpose of “selling” something . . . That’s probably what it will sound like. Try finding a way to deliver the call-to-action with a sub-text or thought of wanting to share something important—not with a purpose of selling. Taking your thoughts (and thus your delivery) away from “selling” will make a big difference in the sound of your voice.

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