Intelligently written spoken speech can add a wonderful dimension to a web site's marketing effectiveness. Trouble is, spoken speech is not always intelligently written.

Often, we think that if we pay for a good voice-over artiste to record the words, by some miracle he or she will be able to transform lumpy brochure copy into a great sounding audio track. Wrong. I have directed some of the most experienced voice artistes in Europe, and although I've seen them do a lot to improve a weak script, they're not magicians.

In her article on MarketingProfs back in March, Ronni Rhodes said, “Voice conveys many of the intangibles underlying the written word. A voice can touch the human spirit and deliver a message on its own merits.”

Those are charming thoughts, and they're absolutely right. But you're not going to touch many human spirits if the script for your spoken words reads like a truck driver's delivery roster.

Sorry to be such a cynical old trout, but I've been hired to rewrite too many terrible audio scripts to feel confident that the uninitiated marcommer can achieve perfection—without some help.

So, let's talk help. Ronni gave some good advice in her article, and here's mine from the perspective of a scriptwriter and audio producer/director.

Be aware of the technical restrictions of audio on a web site. OK, as Ronni says, “audio is the most mature of the streaming technologies and doesn't have the bandwidth requirements associated with video.” However, there may still be people in your target audience with slow modems, old computer systems, poor-quality sound reproduction, etc., so devise your audio content to work well technically for the lowest common denominator.

Remember that audio speech really is “a word in your ear.” Someone once said that audio listeners aren't one audience of thousands; they're thousands of audiences of one. Always communicate with “you” in a personal style, as if you were talking to the listener directly. Get it right, and your proximity to the listener's ear is a powerful communication tool. Get it wrong, and you unleash the equivalent strength of hostility. Never patronize or talk down. Write as if you're talking to a friend. Be honest and realistic—no hype or BS.

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Suzan St Maur ( writes extensively on marketing and business communications and is the author of the widely acclaimed Powerwriting.