All, Always, Any, Best, Ever, Every, Everywhere, Forever, Greatest, Never, No, None, Nothing, Only, Ultimate.
Why do we sometimes exaggerate and use words that are all encompassing? While guilty of it myself (usually when I’m debating or arguing), the level or usage of absolutes in the voice over scripts that come my way is perplexing. It makes me wonder if there is data that confirms that speaking in extremes is what resonates with listeners to convey messages, compel action, or come to resolve. Despite wanting to be the voice behind as many projects as I can deliver with high quality, I find myself passing on things written with absolutes.
Is the purpose to coerce the audience? Or should voice over tell a story and get listeners to think, feel, and understand?
Not to mention voiceover has many genres and variations and several command a conversational voiceover read over an announcer or radio type voice. Now imagine trying to deliver a more conversational voiceover while using several absolute terms. I hope you can envision how the over usage might pivot the voice-over delivery to sound like a stereotypical sales read.
What does the use of absolutes in commercials, explainers and promotions accomplish? Is anything 100% Right or Wrong? How often are absolutes truly factual?
Recently, I took a risk with a client and asked if they were ok if I take a creative license with the script. They said ok so I submitted an additional take just to see what they thought. I did share that the original script had multiple absolutes and as a result I felt that the audible delivery came across tone deaf and condescending. I shared that my second take was an attempt to be more authentic and compelling using voiceover performance techniques and not absolute words.
This was a gamble for me because the representative I was working with was also the one who wrote the script. I have learned quickly that writers are like chefs when it comes to their VO scripts. Their view - something is wrong with us, not them if we do not like their creations.
So, what is this talk about absolutes? They are a great part of our language that helps us bring emotion and effect when speaking. Yet, I believe that absolutes should be used sparingly and respectfully. In voiceover, I believe script writing should prompt the listener to have the epiphany based on the content and an authentic voice.
I believe voice-over artists and actors should value their time and talents to share feedback that allows everyone’s brand to be represented well and accomplish the project’s goals.
Yes, we should absolutely speak and provide the best read possible by contributing our voiceover artistry. The minimal use of absolutes when voicing will strengthen the message and credibility.