Voicing Solid Narrations

Creating narrations is as easy as turning on your camcorder. If you have a handheld mic (or some other external mic), plug it into your camcorder. Otherwise, you can use the built-in, onboard camcorder mic.

Before you record your voiceover go over this checklist to make sure you're ready:

  • Read your copy out loud. Listen to your words. They should sound comfortable, conversational, even informal.

  • Avoid technical jargon. That demands extra effort from your listeners, and you may lose them.

  • Short sentences work best. If you find yourself stumbling over certain phrases, rewrite them.

  • Stress important words and phrases. As you review your copy, underline important words. When you record your voiceover you'll want to give those words extra emphasis?more volume and punch.

  • Mark pauses. Go through your copy and mark logical breaks with short parallel lines. They'll remind you to pause at those points. Avoid overly smooth and constant pacing. That's characteristic of a scripted delivery and, once again, you don't want to remind viewers that this is TV. It's real life. It's conversational.

  • Break up your copy into shorter sentences. Always be on the lookout for convoluted, wandering sentences. Too many modifiers can be unwieldy. Break long sentences into several shorter ones. Shorter sentences tend to have only one key point. It's easier to emphasize one key point in one sentence versus multiple points in a rambling speech.

  • Punch up your voice. When reading copy it's too easy to slip into a dull, monotone voice. Instead, add some zest and enthusiasm to your narration. As one consultant told me, "Pump up your projection." You want people to pay attention. You do that by speaking as if the subject truly interests you. On the other hand, you are not trying to be a professional announcer. No need to put on airs or use a basso profundo voice.

  • Practice. Record a couple narrations and listen. Have others listen. Most first-time narrators mumble or "swallow" words. Have you made yourself clear?

  • Use a windscreen. Although you need to record close to the mic for best effect?12 inches away or so?getting too close can lead to "popping P's." As you say "P" words, you project a small blast of wind at the mic. Using a windscreen minimizes that, as will not speaking directly into the mic.

  • Wear earphones. In this case the purpose is not to make sure you're actually getting audio, rather it's to hear yourself. That may seem a bit odd. You can hear yourself just fine without a headset. But you need the headset to see how the mic "hears" you. You'll also discover if you're popping any P's or speaking with too much sibilance?an overemphasis on the "S" sound.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video