One of the great things about voice over is that you’re not live and that’s great news for anyone who makes mistakes while reading copy, and that’s all of us.
Yet many novices become flustered and frustrated when they miss a word or stumble. Some people get completely derailed.
So if you make mistakes, relax! It’s been said that even the saints made 6 mistakes a day. 😉
So what do you do when you’re in a session and you start to stumble?
In voice-over, mistakes are corrected by what are called “pick ups” and “punch-ins.” Many mistakes are unconscious. We are not aware we made them. But the director and engineer are following along as you read a copy and they’ll stop you if they hear something that is not in the script.
If you are recording by yourself from home, you’ll listen to the playback and carefully follow the script to flag any mistakes.
When working with director or audio engineer, don’t waste time by apologizing or feeling bad. Simply pause for a moment, go back to the beginning of the sentence you flubbed and read it again. Sometimes you will be directed to go back to the beginning of a paragraph or even to “take it from the top” which means go back to the beginning of the script and start again.
If you catch yourself making a mistake, don’t wait for the director to stop you. Stop yourself and re-do the sentence. But whether you or the director are first to catch the flub, the important thing is to pause for a beat before you do the pick up. This makes it easier for the engineer to edit out the mistake.
Punch ins, or rolling pick ups, are less common but they do occur in some situations, such as while recording audio books. With a punch in the engineer will start playing back the text beginning just before the flub. You’ll hear this in your head phones. Get ready. He or she will begin recording at the beginning of the sentence where you made the mistake. Start speaking here, with the appropriate feeling and tone.
Handle your mistakes with grace and good humor. And although you may feel frustrated inside, a true professional never lets it show.
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Susan Berkley is a top voice over artist
and founder of The Great Voice Company,