Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

How Your Eyes Help You Interpret A Script


By Stephanie Ciccarelli

July 7, 2011

Comments (14)

Close up of a female eye (brown), long eyelashes and a manicured eyebrowHave you ever stopped to think about just how greatly we rely upon our eyesight?

Although we can pick a script apart and analyze it using a variety of constructive tools, there's nothing quite like letting your natural line of vision rule the day and see where it instinctively leads based upon years of acquired knowledge and practical experience as a reader.

Voice over coach Bob Cook shares an illustration of how our vision and manner of reading deciphers and anticipates changes in vocal inflection, timing and cadence in today's VOX Daily.


By Bob Cook

The EYES are your navigator when it comes to reading a script. Your eyes not only let you see the words you're reading but they also look ahead so you know where you're going. Let me show you how it works.

The following script reads:

Once upon a time in the old west a gunslinger named Jesse James robbed trains and banks.

Let's LOOK at the first 5 words, ONCE UPON A TIME IN. It will take less than a second to see them. But to say those same 5 words out loud takes about a half sec longer. Now I know we're talking a small fraction here but remember it's these small differences that always make good great and winners losers.

Now that your eyes have let you see those first 5 words you can now say them. But what are your eyes doing now? Well they've moved on to the next five words, which are THE OLD WEST A GUNSLINGER. So while you're saying ONCE UPON A TIME IN your eyes are already on THE OLD WEST A GUNSLINGER.

Your eyes are scoping out your path so that you'll know where you're going. Your eyes not only make you aware of the words ahead of you but they will let you know there are pauses coming, end of sentences, the beginning of new paragraphs or possibly a change of tone.

Now the fact that we are talking about such a small difference between a half sec and a full second makes this type of work all the more precise, which is why you must read out loud everyday for the rest of your life.

As some of you know when you read for pleasure the more often you read the quicker you are able to get through a book. No different here but you have to do the work and it will be frustrating at first. Reading out loud trains the eyes and the mouth to work together, which will make both body parts quicker and more efficient. Plus, reading out loud also works the 40 something muscles around the mouth.

Bob Cook is the Director of Training at Ta-Da! Voiceworks in Toronto. He is available for on-site coaching as well as by Skype. He can be reached at coaching@tadavoiceworks.com.

iStockphoto.com/Inga Ivanova

Related Topics: Bob Cook, eyes, navigation, reading, Ta Da! Voiceworks, voiceovers


    As crazy as it seems, even after 20 years, this is the one area I work on most, yet still am not near where I want to be. #thornintheflesh

    Posted by:

      I assume you are good at it; nevertheless,if you are amongst the people who always want the things "better" , you should never hesitate to say " I am the BEST", as a result of your modesty.

      Posted by:
      • Miné Bilgé
      • July 10, 2011 10:33 PM

        Thanks for the reminder. I recently had gotten away from reading out loud, and noticed I was stumbling more on script reading....
        In fact I read this article out loud.

        Posted by:

          I'm sorry, but what VO artist *doesn't* read a script out loud before recording it?

          Posted by:
          • Meg Arbo
          • August 3, 2011 2:16 PM

            I always read my vocals out loud repeatedly till I have it memorized so it doesn't sound like I'm reading it and more natural.

            Posted by:
            • Billy Madatchu
            • August 3, 2011 2:16 PM

              Always out loud before recording it!

              Posted by:
              • Katherine Dines
              • August 3, 2011 2:17 PM

                If the template is set properly then it should time out properly but there may be pronunciations that sound good in your head but do not come out very easily. So pre reading and asking for pronouncers are a must.

                Posted by:
                • Nick Montague
                • August 3, 2011 2:17 PM

                  Great advice, Nick--especially in long form copy (narration, audiobooks) where personal names have no outside reference guide.

                  Posted by:
                  • Robert Ready
                  • August 3, 2011 2:18 PM

                    Back in June, 2009, I had the honor of being in 5 old time radio re-creations at a Seattle OTR convention. A few of them were with actor Tommy Cook (among others) and I recall him sitting on the stage before each production, reading his lines quietly during the practice runs while things were getting tightened up. Tommy was a child actor in radio before a lot of us were born, and if it is good enough for him...... :)

                    Posted by:
                    • Warren W. Jones
                    • August 3, 2011 2:19 PM

                      Yes how about living it eating it drinking it and breathing it so you pretty much just wake up ready to snap into it. like a natural flow while trusting the foundation of built up preparation.

                      Posted by:
                      • Kevin Johnson
                      • August 3, 2011 2:19 PM

                        Always have, always will.

                        Posted by:
                        • John Beeman
                        • August 3, 2011 2:20 PM

                          In my opinion, cold reading a script allows for too many potential mistakes. To sound natural requires practice.

                          Posted by:
                          • Jason Hammond
                          • August 3, 2011 2:20 PM

                            I read audition scripts out loud before I even decide to respond on a job.

                            Posted by:
                            • Barbara Kellam-Scott
                            • August 3, 2011 2:23 PM

                              On a short piece, always one out-loud before getting analytical, and I record it (own studio) because it can occasionally turn out brighter, more conversational, than the prepped version. That's called 'taking it by surprise' isn't it?

                              Posted by:

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