When a normal person hears the words “alphabet soup” they probably think of the kind you eat with the little noodles shaped like letters. When a voiceover person hear the words “alphabet soup” it means that their mouth is going to be filled with lots of acronyms.
One of the things that endears a voice talent to clients is a talent’s ability to see past the noodles in this word soup and find the broth. This doesn’t necessarily mean understanding every word that is spoken, but it does mean understanding the context and how the words relate to each other.
It helps to have a little bit of understanding about a LOT of stuff. For voice talent who do marketing pieces, informational and corporate communications work – we see scripts for IT, healthcare, the financial business, the military or the government and many other types of industries. I did a long piece recently for a municipal building project that spoke to the prime contractors about their required paperwork at every step of the project. Another large project was for a government agency website describing every department within the agency in minute detail.
We need to see past the word soup and understand the message so that we can hear when something just doesn’t sound “right” during the recording.
Many scripts are not written by scriptwriters, so the words may have never actually been spoken aloud. Sometimes a script is written by an experienced white paper writer, or annual report writer. These are words that are written for the eye and not the ear. Long sentences with multiple compound phrases. Experienced talent can parse through the words and generally get the message across in their delivery.
Knowing who will be seeing or hearing the presentation is helpful, too – along with understanding what is new information for the audience and what they might already be familiar with. An experienced talent will know when to ask questions so that the message doesn’t get lost along the way.
I had a script today with several newly invented acronyms which referred to other newly invented acronyms about a subject that I am not completely familiar with. But familiar enough to get to the flavor of the story I was telling.
That is my job. I have to look past the noodles and concentrate on the soup.