How Many Words Fit In A 30 Second Voice Over?
Posted On: Sep 3, 2018 Written by: Abe
Approximately 60 words fit into 30 seconds for a soft, relaxed voiceover.
For a medium-pace voiceover, allow up to 75 words.
With hard-sell voiceovers, up to 85 words will comfortably fit.
Our team are often asked ‘how many words fit in a 30-second commercial?’
A voiceover with too many words will sound rushed, leave no room for the read to ‘breathe’, and make it difficult for the listener or viewer to take in (and act on) the information. So, you must ensure you don't include too many words in your script.
It might sound obvious, but the pace of a read directly relates to how many words are in the script. But unfortunately, more often than not, it’s the script's word count and not the direction to a voiceover talent that sets the pace of that voiceover. If a script has too many words, the audio producer may have to remove spaces between them and time compress (or ‘squash’) the voice, giving it an unnatural sound.
A good guide
Here's a good guide on the optimum word count for a script based on three different styles. Following this rule of thumb when writing copy will ensure the voiceover talent can deliver a high-quality read and put light and shade into their performance.
For a soft sell, emotive and authentic voiceover delivery:
60 seconds: approx 120 words
30 seconds: approx 60 words
15 seconds: approx 30 words
For a medium-pace bright voiceover:
60 seconds: approx 150 words
30 seconds: approx 75 words
15 seconds: approx 36 words
For hard sell, fast voiceovers:
60 seconds: approx 170 words
30 seconds: approx 85 words
15 seconds: approx 42 words
Here are some things to consider when writing (and timing) a script.
Read it aloudReading the script aloud and running a stopwatch is the most accurate method for checking its duration. Reading it to yourself under your breath can give a false sense of how long it actually will run when read by a voiceover, as we all tend to read much faster when we’re not verbalizing the words.
As silly as you might feel sitting at your desk and reading a script aloud, it’s hands-down the best way to get an accurate feel for the pace and style of what the final voiceover might sound like. It will also help you get an idea of which points a voice talent needs to hit, so when you’re directing them (either live in a session or with written directions), you’ll have a clear idea of the important words to tell them to emphasise and ‘lean into.’
Phone numbers countEach digit in a phone number should be counted as a word; for example, the phone number 6424 2466 will add eight words to the word count of a script. But before you include a phone number in a script, particularly in a radio or television commercial, consider if there is a better point of contact that could be more easily remembered.
Phone numbers aren’t usually very easy to recall, whereas a website or simple instruction to ‘Google the business name’ (checking to make sure they rank on the first page in Google’s search terms for their name) may be a better option.
Remove the wwwWebsite URLs are similar - although they may look like one word, they may equate to three or four (or more.) Also, make sure you remove the www from any website address.
A website should load without this being typed, and it will save valuable time (and verbal clutter) if you can eliminate it. If it doesn’t work - a quick fix from the web developer should be all that’s required. That’s three words saved right away!
At Abes Audio, we’re always happy to help or provide a second opinion on whether your script will fit to the required duration. Talk to our team if we can assist you.