by Glenn Miller

Here's a tip for working with amateur to semi-pro clients that voice their own spots. When you're having them read the copy to get a voice level, have them start with the last two or three sentences of the copy. Have them go over that copy three or four times until they get comfortable with it, possibly even fluent with it.

There are two reasons for this. First, to save time, and second, to get a better "read."

You save time because every time they make a mistake, anxiety tends to build. We do what we can to minimize it, but it's there. Every time they start again, they become more familiar with the beginning and the middle of the copy. Each successive read takes longer and longer, until they j-u-s-t a-b-o-u-t make it. Now, if they know how the spot ends and how they're going to deliver it, the odds are they won't choke near the end. They'll feel confident once they hit those last three or four sentences and finish strong instead of with the "Whew, I'm glad that's over" emotion most people express upon finishing.

There's another benefit beyond saving time and sounding good and that's the potential effectiveness of the spot. I don't think there is any scientific, empirical evidence to support the following theory, but our business is built on "smoke and mirrors" so why should I let facts (or, lack of them) stand in the way?

Studies have shown that we are more likely to remember the last thing said to us in a conversation than the first or second thing. "Last thing heard, first thing remembered." And, in our over-informationated world, we tend to make more decisions based on impressions rather than facts. These impressions are based more on emotion than rational thought. Many of these impressions are below the level of conscious thought, yet they affect our conscious actions.

Radio is a very intimate medium. It conveys emotion easily and potently. If the client doing the spot is sincere and confident, that will be a part of the message. If the client is just hoping and praying he doesn't blow it near the end of the spot, that will be a part of the message. The listener, to a certain degree on a conscious or subconscious level, will sense this message within a message, react, and carry away a positive or negative impression. Hence it's important that the last thing heard and the first, and perhaps only thing, remembered leaves a positive emotional impression.

Advertising gurus Trout and Ries proclaim that the battle for consumers takes place in the consumer's mind. While I agree, I suspect that the Commander-in-Chief of the consumer's mind is their heart. This explains the phenomenon of why people will buy a car then collect and read brochures extolling the virtues of the car! Their heart wanted the car. Their heart bought the car. Then, their mind justifies the purchase and congratulates every organ for being so sensible.