How to read a script naturally when recording - 11 pro tips

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Written by: Dexxter Clark
I was some trained in reading the news in Dutch by a professional who teaches the news readers at the NOS, the biggest news network in the Netherlands.
Of course, these theories apply to English as well.
Today I’m going to share these tips with you.

So here are some tips to read scripts naturally on camera or audio recording.

1. write script in talking language

There is a big difference in writing language and speaking language.
Reading a news article, a thesis or a book out loud is really hard to do, because they are meant to be read, not to be spoken.
Speaking language has short sentences, with little to no sub sentences and generally more to the point with less details.
 
For example:
You don’t you tell a story to a friend:
“James closed the roof of his newly bought shiny red Ferrari he just bought from the dealer around the corner.
With a firm swing when he opened the door, not estimating his applied force, he dented the car that was parked next to him.
That is going to cost him.”
 
YouTube is like telling a story to someone.
On YouTube you would say:
“James bought a new Ferrari and the first time he opened the door he dented the car next to him.

This was super expensive”.


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2. Taking a breath in de right places

A lot of people tend to take breaths in really weird places in a sentence, when they get nervous.
You are not alone.
 
There are generally 3 places where you take a breath:
·         After a sentence
·         After a colon (:) or a semicolon (;)
·         Before and after a sub-sentence

3. How to not sound like a robot while reading: intonation

You sound like a robot, because you speak without intonation (or have too much intonation).

Sentences have differences in pitch height, they shift in between.


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This is how we as humans can easily spot a lie.
Some people speak with wrong intonations (I have someone in the family), it is really hard to take her seriously, because you never know when she is lying or speaking the truth.

This is also how you spot a beginner actor in a B-movie.
Next time when you hear someone speak or when you are watching a movie, try to notice where the intonation in sentences lies.
 
You can train yourself by recording your voice telling what you did today (or any other story that is true) versus recording you reading a text.
Replay the two and try to compare the intonations between texts and your own story and what you need to change in order to make it more natural.
The same method works for acting and lying b.t.w. 😊 (which basically the same thing).

It depends a little bit on the language how much this and where these shifts in intonations are, but a general rule of thumb:
sentences always end lower, unless it is a question.

4. How to not sound like a robot while reading: emphasis

When you read and are a bit nervous, you probably forget the basics of natural speech.
You forget where is emphasis lies in sentences.

 

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There are general rules for emphasizing in sentences:

Nouns

In sentences you place emphasis on the nouns.
For example: “In sentences you place emphasis on the nouns”
For example: “Next to the road is a building”.

Adjective

When there are adjectives before the nouns, you place emphasis on the adjective instead of the noun.
For example: “Next to the dirty road is a big building”.

Denial

When there is a denial  in the sentence, you place emphasis on the denial (this has a higher priority than the adjective).
For example: “There is no dirty road and no big building”.

5. Rehearse the script and pronunciation

Read the script out loud before you hit record.
Soon enough you will find spots in the text that are real tongue twisters.
Those tongue twisters are hard to spot when you write the text.
 
You can do mouth exercises to improve your tongue twister skills.
Your mouth, throat and tongue are all muscles.
It helps avoiding mistakes with tongue twisters when you warm them up.

 

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We all know these:
•    She sells sea shells on the sea shore.
•    How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

6. Release tension

Relaxing is one of the key things to reading scripts for recording (on camera).
Often when we are nervous you build up tension in your shoulders, neck and throat.
This makes the pitch of your voice higher.
 
Generally in the morning you are less tense, so this is ideal to record a video.
Also try to focus your energy on your abdomen and try to breath from your abdomen.

7. Own it

I know it sounds stupid, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll probably say the same thing.
Try to own the text, fake it if you must.
Don’t try to be “bound” by the words in the script
 
Don’t be scared, it’s just text, it doesn’t bite.

You can do it again, you are not reading the news live on television.


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8. Live the text

If you live the text, it sound more alive and less disconnected.
How much lived the text is, depends on the type of text.
A film trailer is much more lived than a news text.
 
Living a text is not exaggerating, it is empowering a sentence (I hope you get what I mean).

9. Movement

Once you hit “record”, all of a sudden you feel really aware of what you are doing with your hands, eyes, posture and then suddenly realize that you don’t know how to move naturally.
Sounds familiar?
 
Some people think that they are not allowed to move.
Others think that they need to perform a play on camera.
Try to find the middle ground that fits you well.
 
What helped me is looking at movement of other presenters on television.
Write down what you like, and try it out in your next video and see if it works for you.
This is hard and takes a lot of practice.
I heard an actor say after the interviewer asked what is the hardest part of acting was?
“Making it look easy”.

It is the same here, it is basically acting 101.


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10. Turn it up a notch

You may think that you are super clear and over the top, but in reality the camera strips 50% of that energy.
So pump a bit more energy in your performance.
 
This might seem contradictory to my previous point, but it’s not.
This is about energy and enthusiasm.
 
Enthusiasm is super important.
I ‘d rather look and listen to someone who is passionate and enthusiastic than someone who is not.
 
A simple hack is to pick a video topic you like and are passionate about.
 
I’d like the time between scripting and recording to be as short as possible.
When a topic is still fresh on my mind and I’m enthusiastic about the topic.

It makes also recording a lot easier and quicker.


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11. Try to enjoy the process

You know that kick, that rush when you feel when you have finished a recording.
This is dopamine rushing through your body.
Try to realize that this is happening during recording and try to enjoy the recording process.
 
It is a mindset trick, for me it works, especially for my enthusiasm.

12. Distraction free environment

Nothing is more annoying than distraction when you are in the flow.
A phone ringing, a camera nagging that the battery is empty, your email program “ploinks” for your attention.
This ruins a perfectly good take and even worse, a perfectly good vibe.
 
Try to get rid of all the distractions: close your email program, set your phone in silent-mode and make sure your battery is charged.
This is one of the things that Tim Ferris talks in “The 4 hour work week” (opens Amazon), the distraction maybe only 1 second.
But the time it takes to get back into the zone is maybe 15, 30 or 60 minutes.

The chance that you can finish the thought you had when the distraction occurred is almost nil.


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13. Watch yourself

Watch your videos on YouTube and note things you don’t like and try to do it better the next time you record.
 
To get more natural, do the following.
Go and do something mundane: watch television, vacuum the apartment, eat a sandwich and record yourself doing it (and try to forget the camera is there).
Watch the footage and take notice of your body language and gestures.
These are your own personal gestures, these gestures is what makes you look like you are relaxed.
 
Try to mimic or fake those gestures during the recording of your next video.
Probably you will feel more relaxed because it is familiar behavior to you.
 
If you want to feel more confident on camera, check out my article on overcoming your camera shyness.
If you want to learn how to read a script on camera without a teleprompter, check out my article on the topic.

When you are serious about YouTube and want to take it to the next level, take a look at my video training program: Viral Strategy.
The program takes you step-by-step through the process of getting views, subscribers and going viral.

For new creators I included a module that guides you step-by-step through the process of starting, creating and setting up a YouTube channel.

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Dexxter Clark
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