standups and voice-overs

Emphasizing Operative Words

Once you've identified the key words that tell your story, you need to add emphasis to those words when reading your script.

You do that in these four ways:

  • Volume - Increase or decrease the volume of your voice when saying an operative word. Emphasizing a word by making your voice louder is also called "punching" it.
  • Pitch - Change the pitch of your voice when you say an operative word, going up or down the scale, high and low, falsetto to baritone
  • Rhythm - Change the rhythm of your voice - the space between the words - when saying an operative word. Pause before the word, or after the word, or both, to emphasize it. A pause is especially effective before a word that's complex or highly technical in nature. A pause is also effective when you're introducing a new idea in a script.
  • Tempo - change the tempo or speed of your delivery to emphasize an operative word. You might pick up the tempo where the copy is less important, and then slow down when you hit a section with more operative words to emphasize them. Or you might stretch out a vowel in an operative word.