The 4 Critical Elements of Effective Communication
Applying the concepts introduced in Article #64

Interrupt — Get their attention:

Review: It's essential to get the attention of your audience before any communication can begin. For most voiceover work the Interrupt refers to a statement or question at the beginning of the script that is intended to get the audience to STOP thinking about what they are currently thinking about and START thinking about what it is you are about to say.

As a voice talent, part of your job is to discover how your character might speak the first line of the script in a way that will instantly grab the attention of your one-person audience. The challenge is to do this even when the script is poorly written or may not include an interrupt. Try experimenting with tone, pitch, pacing and volume to come up with a unique (and compelling) way to say the words

Engage — Keep them listening:

Review: The most effective way to keep someone listening is to tell them a story. Every script contains a story of some sort—even if it’s a poorly written script that contains nothing but a list of items.

Voice talent can find it challenging to discover how their character can tell the story in a way that is captivating, intriguing, and compelling. Generally speaking, one of the best ways to keep the audience listening is to simply have a conversation with them. Most “announcery” or “in-your-face” deliveries (often referred to as “hard-sell”) will tend to dis-engage the listener, whereas a one-to-one conversation will tend to engage the listener and keep them listening. If properly delivered in an engaging manner, even the telephone directory can be compelling.

Educate — Give them the information they need to know:

Review: This is the “meat and potatoes” of a script. For a commercial, it’s usually the sales message (which may be cleverly woven into the content of the story); for an industrial, it’s usually the instructional, training, or marketing content.

Your job as voice talent, regardless of the script, is to deliver the information “in character,” and in a manner consistent with the purpose of the message. To be effective, delivery of the information portion of a script must be consistent with your delivery of the rest of the script. If you have properly interrupted and engaged the listener, and your character is having a personal conversation with your one-person audience, the informational content will be completely natural and will not be perceived as “selling.”

Offer — Give the listener an opportunity to take action:

Review: What action do you want the listener to take as a result of speaking to them? (remember Desires from the A-B-C’s?) In commercial copy, the offer is often referred to as “the sell,” a “tag,” or “the call to action,” and will frequently be delivered by a different voice talent. “Call 800 123-4567,” or “Order today—only $19.95,” or “Go to" are all direct forms of the offer, but it can also be very subtle when delivered in the right way by that voice talent.

As voice talent, your job is to keep the listener engaged throughout the entire script so that when the time comes to wrap it all up, the offer simply appears to be the natural conclusion of your message. Try assigning another "back story" prior to the offer line. For instance, if you can imagine someone saying to you, "Where can I call for information?" or "What's the website?", your response of "Call 1-800-123-4567 for more information" or "Go to" sounds less like a sell and much more like the information they've just asked for.

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