SOS (Save Our Session!)
You’ve been in front of the microphone for 45 minutes, reading the same dreary piece of copy over and over for a producer who hasn’t got a clue about how to direct you.
Forget spontaneity! You’re concentrating so hard on delivering each little bit of direction regarding nuance, emphasis, pacing, sparkle, intensity, passion, and focus, that now the playback sounds like a robot in desperate need of an oil can! Everyone is getting frustrated, and you are obviously in a pattern of diminishing returns.
What can you do to save the session? You’ve already been told the script is sacrosanct, so not a word may be changed to put it into “verbal” English to make it easier on the ear. (There’s another subject for a “Rants” page!) The producer is new and can’t seem to describe the desired sound he hears in his head, and you can’t get it dialed in either, because he keeps reading it to you in a monotone (his natural voice), saying: “There… Just like that!!”
Time for a break!!
Depending on whether you can sense how the producer is feeling about things, you have a few options. You MUST somehow achieve a temporary lull. Perhaps you can remember a joke or funny story (the longer the better). Take your time delivering it. You could develop a minor stomach cramp and ask for a short potty-break. Get the producer to talk about himself for a while (usually an easy task), or find something in the news to talk about. Anything except the session!
The object is to clear everyone’s mental RAM, purge the conscious cache in your head of all copy points, and focus somewhere else with no script or studio issues. Then, when everyone is fairly relaxed again, go back to your problem.
But this time, don’t try to remember all the old direction you were given. You worked so hard at it that, by now, it has been fused with the script deep in your subconscious mind. You’ll be free to focus on the copy content, the meaning behind the words, instead of the techniques of how to deliver it. Suddenly, it should sound a lot better to everyone’s ears.
Of course, if you’re not paying attention to the message the script is trying to deliver, it’s never going to sound right! You’re in the wrong profession.