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COPY INFLECTIONS

QUESTION:

My PD says I need more inflection on my spots. I try smiling while reading the spots but that must not be doing the trick. Any suggestions

DAN REPLIES:

1) First, make sure your smile is not a normal, intelligent smile but rather a huge, psychotic smile. I might be exaggerating a little, but my point is that the airwaves strip a lot of the friendliness from your voice. When you think you sound "normal friendly," you sound a bit reserved. When you think your voice sounds extra-smiley, it probably sounds just about right to the listener.

2) Realize that you're not reading a spot; you're telling a story....and you're telling it to one person (not to a mass audience). When you tell a story, you naturally alter your inflections at key moments to heighten the effect. Concentrate on communicating that human story, not on reading the commercial. (Granted, this is not always easy to do if you're stuck with badly written commercial copy.)

3) To quote one of my radio heroes, Bobby Ocean: When looking over the commercial copy, "find the love in the scene." Discover (or arbitrarily decide upon, if you can't find one) something that the announcer -- that is, the person you are portraying -- is acting out of love for.

Let's say you're doing a commercial for a pizza delivery service. The announcer might be salivating at the taste of the pizza....Or enamored of the breakneck speed at which the pizzas are delivered....Or thrilled that he doesn't have to cook tonight. Even if none of this is in the commercial copy, find something to love and let that passion motivate your delivery.

How can such a passion help if it's not reflected in the copy?

Well, let's take an example. You are supposed to say to someone, over the telephone, "When will you be home?"

Imagine how differently that line would sound if it were secretly motivated by the following passions:

1) You're saying it on the telephone to your lover, and you're feeling incredibly horny.

2) You're saying it on the telephone to your spouse, while in bed with your lover.

3) You're a child, saying it to your mommy.

4) You're alone in the house, with a monster trying to break in.

5) You're feeling very lonely.

6) You're angry at the other person and are impatient to express that anger.

7) You're preparing a surprise party for him/her and are afraid s/he will arrive too soon.

8) You're a teenager talking to your parents -- who don't realize you have thrown a big, rowdy, unauthorized party in their house.

9) You're hungry, and the other person is bringing dinner.

10) You've just been told the other person is bringing guests over, and you're all sweaty & dirty and wondering if you have time to clean up.

11) You're picturing snuggling up with that person in front of the TV, with the fireplace aglow as you much on fresh popcorn and watch a great movie on video.

Again, none of the above would be seen in that simple line, "When will you be home?" But each "secret passion" would produce a different reading of that line.

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