Tips for Writing an Effective Audio Script

When you think of writing, what springs to mind? If you’re
like most people, you think of things like books, essays,
stories, and emails. These are all types of writing that are
typically meant to be read. They are written for the eye.
Writing for the ear, on the other hand, means creating words
that people will listen to.

Writing for the ear is different than writing for the eye.
Listeners can’t stop to re-read a sentence to clarify its
meaning. The message has just one shot to get through before
the narrative continues and the thought is left behind. In
order to be grasped quickly, an audio script has to be
crystal clear and very simple.

Audio scriptwriting is not a skill we’re commonly taught,
but whether you are creating tape sets, audio newsletters or
a recorded welcome message for your web site, it pays to
know a few scriptwriting tricks.

Listen to the way people talk in everyday conversation.
We rarely talk as formally as we write. We tend to talk in
short sentences, even sentence fragments. We use
contractions and simple words. Use this style in your
writing, even though it may contradict what you’ve been
taught about ‘proper’ writing. Remember, it doesn’t matter
what it looks like on paper as long as it’s easy for a
listener to understand.

Build a connection.

Audio products are a chance to create a bond with people as
they listen to the sound of your voice. Invite them into
your world by using inclusive language such as “we” and

Keep it short.

Convey ideas in short, self-contained chunks. Use short
sentences so that listeners can easily follow the thread of
your words. A good rule of thumb is to keep sentences under
25 words.

Pay attention to rhythm.

Be careful about running together too many sentences that
are all the same length. A bit of variety will hold a
listener’s attention longer.

Use silence.

Listeners need time to absorb what you’ve said. Work pauses
into your script by indicating where you (or your voice
talent) will stop for a moment during the recording.
Frequent pauses also make it easy to edit your audio
recordings later since you’ll have clean breaks between
sentences and ideas.

Round off numbers.

Instead of mentioning a figure such as $11,768 say “about
$12,000.” Round numbers are far easier for the ear to grasp
and understand.

Watch out for words that sound alike.

Listeners can’t see whether you wrote “two” or “too.” Make
sure the meaning of your homonyms is clear from the context
of your sentence, or remove them altogether.

Practice reading the script out loud.

Do you have to stop for a breath in the middle of a
sentence? The sentence is too long. Do you repeatedly
stumble in your reading when you get to a certain point in
your script? The idea or wording isn’t clear.

Spend some time listening to radio news broadcasts. Record
and transcribe a few of them, then analyze their structure.
You will begin to notice they use many of these techniques.
Modeling their style will help improve your own audio

© 2004 Juiced Consulting
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