I’ve always been a pretty visual guy. In other words, I often process things through images rather than through deductive reasoning. I actually think this has helped my career in voice over. Take for instance my conveyor belt theory.

I’ve always thought that a piece of commercial copy was much like a conveyor belt, in the sense that you are trying to convey information from one point to another; from point A: words on a page, to point B: the audience, in the form of real communication and real information. Now let’s imagine that on this conveyor belt are two or three really important pieces of information. These psychological nuggets are actually words or phrases within the copy that you want the listener to remember and take away at the end of the spot.

David Rosenthal

David Rosenthal

You don’t need them to remember every single word that you say, but you do want them to remember a few key psychological points. The conveyor belt is made up of the rest of the copy, and while these words may not be as important as those two or three words or phrases, they still allow for the conveyance of those pieces of information and therefore also need to be spoken with care, energy and spirit.

Now, when you get to these two or three important little nuggets, these little jewels of information, what do you do? Well, they deserve special emphasis. You don’t want to be heavy-handed about it, but you do want to let the listener know that this particular word or phrase is one of those little jewels to remember.

Here’s an example. Read this short Schwab industrial narrative intro and see if you can pick out those two or three keywords or phrases that I want you to remember.

“Welcome to Schwab Online Advice. In the next couple of minutes we’ll give you some things you should be thinking about when planning for retirement. We’ll go over topics such as how much will you need, what you should be saving and how Schwab might help you meet your goals.”

Alright well, obviously we want to let our audience know that this particular industrial narration is about Schwab Online Advice. In this particular case, that is the product. The product will always be one of those jewels you want the audience to remember. That’s kind of a no-brainer, right?

But moving on from there, what other nuggets of information do we want to attach to this product? Let’s go over the next line again.

“In the next couple of minutes will give you some things you should be thinking about when planning for retirement.”

In this line are two little nuggets. “Should be thinking about” and “retirement.” And in the last long sentence, we have the product cropping up again… “how Schwab might help you meet your goals.” And I would say “meet your goals” is the last little nugget.

So let’s take a look at what I want the audience to take away from this narrative intro. There is the product: Schwab online advice. Then the call to action: should be thinking about retirement. And then the solution: Schwab, meet your goals. So this narrative intro is telling me that with this particular product I should be thinking about retirement and that Schwab is going to help me meet those goals of retirement. Now, let’s look at the conveyor belt words: Welcome, in the next couple of minutes we’ll give you some things, we’ll go over topics, how much you will need, and how much you should be saving. All these words help to convey those other wonderful little nuggets of information into the listener’s subconscious. So, at the end of the intro they may not remember, “in the next couple of minutes,” or “welcome” or “go over topics,” but they will remember “Schwab,” “thinking about retirement” and “Schwab meeting those goals.”

So the next time you pick up a piece of copy, imagine all those words on that page as a big conveyor belt and try to pick out those special words or phrases that the rest of the copy will convey to the listener and that they will hopefully remember long after you’ve stopped speaking those words. That’s your job.


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