Tips for Writing an Effective Audio Script

When you think of writing, what springs to mind? If youíre 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 canít 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 weíre 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 youíve been taught about Ďproperí writing. Remember, it doesnít matter what it looks like on paper as long as itís 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 "our."

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 listenerís attention longer.

Use silence.
Listeners need time to absorb what youíve 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 youíll 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 canít 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 isnít 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 scripts.

© 2004 Juiced Consulting
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