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Here's a story about parsing...

Last week I recorded a new promo demo at Edge Studio. The big cheese himself David Goldberg directed me and we had a blast. BTW if you've never worked with him, do it! He has the best ear in the business and his knowledge of the industry is broader & deeper than anyone I know.

Anyway, he noticed that I was occasionally parsing some of my sentences but it was very subtle. Let's call it "micro-parsing". It was messing with my momentum as many of the promo spots required a lot of energy and speed. We worked on it for a bit and then kept on rolling. I'll post the promo demo when it's ready. Can't wait!

After the demo recording session, I went to a nearby recording studio for an English as a Second Language (ESL) recording session with a regular client.

After chatting with the sound engineer and the producer, I settled into the booth and we started recording. After a couple of takes, the sound engineer told me I'm still in "promo mode". The producer said that this module is for entry-level ESL students and what's been working well for the other voice actors is to do a lot of parsing. Of course.

So, I needed to shift gears and go from high-speed, high energy reads with no parsing to super-slow reads with tons of parsing. Fortunately I was able to make the adjustment quickly and the rest of the recording session went fine.


Parsing is what I call an "ism". Most of the time it's a bad habit but it's also one of many narration tools at your disposal, if you know how to use it.

But Tom, isn't parsing just a fancy word for pausing?

Not exactly. You pause after commas, colons, semicolons, etc. Parsing is when you break up a sentence where punctuation doesn't dictate that you should. Often it's done for dramatic effect and can enhance your narration.

Almost every student I've worked with had an issue with parsing. They would take an axe to the sentences they narrate and chop them up for no good reason. All it does is get in the way of their performance.

How do you know if you're parsing and what can you do to prevent it?

It's way too much to get into in this here blog but if you book a free 15-minute consult with me I can give you some pointers.


  • Wednesday, July 21st @8PM ET: The VO How-To Webinar "Direct Marketing". What is Direct Marketing? How can you use Direct Marketing to complement your Agents and use of Pay-to-Play sites? These and many more questions will be answered. Sign up here!

  • Thursday, July 22nd @8PM ET: the Edge Studio Marketing 201 webinar, "4 Words that Kill your Marketing". In this 60-minute webinar, we will discuss how to think like an effective voiceover marketer and avoid self-destructive marketing strategies. Sign up here!



Tom Dheere is the VO Strategist, a voice over business & marketing coach and demo producer since 2011. He is also a voice actor with over 20 years of experience who has narrated just about every type of voiceover you can think of. When not voicing or talking about voicing, he produces the sci-fi comic book Agent 1.22.


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