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When The Script Is Too Long

When The Voiceover Script Is Too LongI’m guessing you’ve been here before. Client instructions: “Here’s the final script. Please record and deliver the audio in WAV format. Oh, and we need this to be under :60 seconds.”

No problem, right? Wrong!

Once you read the final script you realize that you’ve got a lot more than :60 seconds of copy to deal with. In fact, you’ve got two or maybe three times as much copy as you should have.

The Hard Sell Auctioneer Read

All through my radio career I was a marked man. Producers at every station I ever worked at knew I was the guy to call into the booth if they needed to fit :45 seconds of copy in a :30 second spot. If you needed a hard sell read like an auctioneer, I was your guy.

I’m happy to report that, although I can still do this if absolutely necessary, I’ve developed my skills a little bit. I think. But the fact of the matter is, this happens more often than it probably should. Not every client is a professional copywriter. They don’t all have those fancy marked pages that tell them by a gauge in the margin how much time, in copy, they’ve written.

When There Is Too Much Copy

When I get a script from a client that I know is too long I want to handle the situation professionally. Firing them off an email telling them they don’t know what they’re doing and their script is ridiculous and I won’t record it… not professional. You’d think this goes without saying. No. Sadly. It needs to be said. I’ve heard of talent doing this.

Instead, I will usually record the entire script for them and then send off an MP3 with a note mentioning the script length won’t fit in the allotted time. With the attached audio, they can’t hear it for themselves. This puts the ball back in their court to make a decision. I’ve had it go a couple ways.

Scenario 1: The client determines the information in their script is too important to remove. They decide to keep the final script as is, accept the voice over as I’ve recorded it, and adjust the other project elements, be it video, animation, music, etc, accordingly. Oh look… a double rainbow!

Scenario 2: The client realizes they’ve simply tried to say too much. They inform me they’re going to send the script back to the editing team (or edit it themselves) and ask if I’d be willing to record the edited version for them. I’m always willing! Remember my mantra… happy clients are repeat clients! They have a problem, they realize they have a problem, this is your chance to fix their problem. Solving problems for your customers is good business!

Remember my mantra… happy clients are repeat clients!

Scenario 3: Offer additional service to them. When a client is working on their own behalf; that is, when they don’t have a production team, copywriter, editor, etc. to support them, I’ll offer to assist them with editing their script if that’s the road they take. If you’re not a copywriter, chances are you’ve got someone in your network who is. This would be a great opportunity to make a referral. The client benefits from a professional copywriter, your network connection gets some business, and you’ll benefit from solving your clients problem.

A Handy Copywriting Resource

Are you a voice seeker writing a script and trying to determine how long it is?

Are you a voice talent trying to quote a script and need to know how long it is?

Check out the Word To Time Convertor from Edge Studios. This tool is an incredible resource. Something you’re definitely going to want to bookmark. I’m sure you’ll be going back to it again and again.

Have you got any other tips for dealing with too much copy? I’d love to hear them.