Over the next few months, we'll feature sections of 'There's Money Where Your Mouth Is' that will help you build a solid foundation of techniques. This month's script tip is about lists.
Scripts often contain lists. They may include single words, a series of phrases, or several sentences. All these lists, no matter how long or how short, need variety. Each item on the list should sound different from the preceding item. Musically, you need to stair step each list item up, down, or zigzag the notes in the musical scale as tension is built up and released. There are four musical choices: stair step up (C-D-E), stair step down (E-D-C), start low-go high-and split the difference with the middle note (C-E-D), or start high-go low-and finish with the note in the middle (E-C-D). By delivering each part of
the list on a different note, the reader can move more quickly through the information because a pause is no longer needed, and the listener can retain the information more easily.
Listing three things is the most common list format as it follows
the "Rule of Three." In the following examples, decide which melodic stair-stepping method is best. When asked to deliver an ABC read (three variations of the same copy), you can use three of the four musical choices to vary each read.
What comes in chocolate chip, macadamia nut, and oatmeal?
Mr. Garland's cookies, of course! They're baked fresh every
Answer: (C-D-E) By musically stepping each cookie ingredient up the musical scale, it poses the question. Then it requires that the client's name be dropped in pitch to separate it from the last item in the list. "Of course" should be thrown away (read more quickly) and end on a lower note than "Mr. Garland's cookies" in order to establish authority and insight in the company. The third sentence starts low, rises to its highest point at "fresh," and drops back down the musical scale on the
final two words to give a definitive ending to the message.
(E-D-C) Stair-stepping the list down creates a different attitudinal dynamic, as the delivery must shift to a more teasing, knowledgeable, authoritative style. "Mr. Garland's cookies" rises in pitch and "of course" goes even higher as it is thrown away. The final line arrows down the musical scale.
Zigzagging the list so that "oatmeal" ends on the middle note
means that all the other information needs to jump up and down the scale as well. If "Mr. Garland's cookies" arrows up, then "of course" does the opposite and arrows down. "They're baked fresh" requires a knowing attitude to sustain the single note delivery before the switch on "every day" to musically end the commercial down. The opposite musical variation occurs when the sentence following the list arrows down, rather than up. This creates a more relaxed, matter-of-fact
Sometimes the product benefits determine the best way to read the list. Decide whether this list should be read up, down, or zigzagged.
For a deep, rich, golden tan, buy Miami Tan.
Answer: If you answered up, that would imply that the tan would leave your skin. Zigzagging the list is an adequate choice, and can work when read with the right attitude. Stair-stepping the list down is the best choice because it implies that the tan is going into the skin. One word that should be read quicker or "swallowed" so the listener hardly hears it is "buy." By emphasizing that someone has to spend money, it will negate the sale and the benefits of a sexy tan.