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Can you turn print copy into a VO demo script for any genre? Part 3 of 4.

Edge Studio

NOTE: This is the third post in a 4-part series. Click here to start at Part 1! Click here to start at Part 2! Click here to read Part 4!

Previously, we demonstrated how to turn a print ad into copy for a radio or TV commercial, and how to cut it down to the mere 5-10 seconds you’d want for your demo. You can start with almost any decent print text, such as a magazine ad, a brochure, information in an encyclopedia, corporate training manual – whatever seems interesting, well suited to you, and right for the genre you’re demo-ing. You’ll also want to have some variety in your collection of clips.

How can you do this with any genre? How do they differ? Let’s take a look at turning various types of print copy into an explainer, corporate presentation, a telephony script, or whatever you need.

First, decide what type of information would be typical of the genre you’re aiming at. Then think broadly. What kind of work would you like to do? And what would show you in your best light?

There are two differences between a Commercials demo and most other genres.

  • The cuts in a Commercials demo are typically 5-10 seconds each. Demo samples for other genres tend to be longer, sometimes as much as 20 seconds for a long-form script.
  • A magazine ad, such as we used in our Part 1 examples, might be suitable input, or might not. For example, a fun ad about ice cream cones might not have the information you’ll need for an explainer video or a science program. On the other hand, a print ad’s key sales point and tag line might be enough for a telephone on-hold message or a telephone greeting.We suggest you do not make up facts — what seems a sensible assumption to you might sound naive or just plain wrong to someone who knows that subject well. And they might be your prospective client. This is another reason why you should expand your search for input, to include authoritative sources. They need not be detailed or well written. They just need to be correct.

    Here are examples of input, and resulting VO scripts. The rewriting principles are pretty much universal. To summarize what we said in Part 1:

    • Write as you speak.
    • Break up complex sentences into simple ones.
    • Use common, simple words.
    • Write “efficiently.” Delete the chaff.
    • Be straightforward, don’t get cute or poetic.

    The bold phrases in the input below are passages we lifted to create the script.

    Writing a Program Narration


    • Wikipedia: are generally designated for indoor (generally made of leather or absorbent composites), or all-surface use (generally made of rubber or durable composites, also known as Indoor/Outdoor balls). Indoor balls tend to be considerably more expensive than all-surface balls due to cost of materials. In addition, brand new all-leather indoor balls must be “broken in” first to achieve optimal grip before use in competition. The abrasiveness of asphalt and the dirt and moisture present in an outdoor setting will usually ruin an indoor ball within a very short period of time, which is why an indoor/outdoor ball is recommended for recreational players. Outdoor balls are commonly made from rubber to cope with rougher conditions, and they need to be filled with more air to retain a suitable level of air pressure in colder weather.


    Basketballs are made in several varieties. An indoor ball is typically made of leather or absorbent composites. An all-surface ball is made of a more durable composite, or rubber. It can be used indoors or outdoors.

    NOTE: Your demo’s listener won’t have the benefit of knowing what this script is about. So we’ve started with the word “basketballs” instead of just “balls.”

    Writing an Explainer


    A site that guides students in experiments for science fairs:…

    Most basketballs have inflation instructions printed right on them. Take a look and you’ll probably see something like “INFLATE 7 to 9 LBS.” For this experiment, a ball inflated to eight pounds per square inch will serve as the control. The same ball, but containing different amounts of air, will provide the variables.


    The basketball has a recommended range of pressure, printed on the ball. The higher the pressure, the more bouncy it will be. When playing outdoors in cold weather, pump it to the highest pressure shown. … But overinflation can cause problems.

    NOTE: What sort of problems? Well (just between us), it could explode, and although it would be easier to dribble, it could bounce off the rim instead of going in. We learned these facts by doing literally just a few extra minutes of exploring online. By all means, expend the extra effort if you might find something more interesting or accurate to say.

    Writing for Telephony


    [Shows 27 basketballs across 3 pages]


    Did you know we make 27 different kinds of basketballs? There’s one for every need and type of game, on-court and off. Tell our representative about your needs when they come on the line. Please continue to hold.

    NOTE: Sometimes, rather than a rewrite, it’s easier to write from scratch, especially when the genre involves typical formats, such as this.

    Click here to read Part 1: Turn print copy into a commercial script for your VO demo.
    Click here to read Part 2: How to distill a script to the right length for your demo.
    Click here to read Part 4: Turn print text into VO demo scripts in yet more genres


    Can you use copyrighted material in your demo? (Part 1 of 2)…

    Can you use copyrighted material in your demo? (Part 2 of 2)…

    Should you write your own demo copy?…

    Do you have a comment or suggestion? Please send to [email protected].