Week 5 (10/3): Ad libbing

Know your genre, read news from more than one source, and have an opinion. Image by No-longer-here from Pixabay



Check specific assessment task instructions in the Subject Guide.


  • Mark up a script and record a script 
  • Develop techniques for ad libbing around material

Have a look at these scripts for Heineken and Zambrero and this one for the CBA. They’re very different styles of reads.

  • Choose ONE of script – Heineken, Zambrero, or CBA.
  • Using the skills you’ve learnt so far, make some notes on the style of the read.
  • Then, start rehearsing your vocal style to achieve the reading style you want.
  • Record, revise, then record again.
  • Submit your FINAL version to the Weekly Student Tasks folder in the Drive.

On-Air presentation and ad libbing

Ad-libbing, by definition, is the art of making it up as you go. In music we see it all the time, and it’s referred to as improvisation. However both have something in common. These are the top 5 tips:

  1. Know your genre

We might be talking comedy, sport, or news, whatever it is you need to know your genre. What are the characteristics that make it work? What conventions do you expect? What would you never find in that style? It’s about being authentic.

2. Know your topic, or avoid repetition

Repetition is just another way for saying you are not prepared.

It really helps if you are talking about something you know. Talking off the top of your head can be risky, especially if you think you know what you’re talking about. There are some big issues in the news at the moment – March for Justice, Covid Vaccines, the Myanmar Anti-Coup, Facebook Data Breaches, Suaali to join the Roosters. Be well read. And read more than one news source.



3. Develop technique

This is where you take a leaf out of the comedian’s book. There is a certain formula that works for people. There is a setup and a punchline. Is it a one-liner like Jimmy Carr? Is it a story like Michael McIntyre? Is it an impersonation like Jim Carey? Work out the technique that reflects the style in which YOU talk.

4. Express an opinion

This is another way of saying “commit to what you are going to do and do it”! The worst position to be in an ad lib is on the fence. This is about delivering genuine and deeply emotional responses. An ad lib can be very powerful to the listener as they can hear the honesty in what you are saying.

5. Know when to finish

You may have a time limit, or you might not! You don’t want to monopolise the entire speaking time, however you want to speak long enough to have a point and lead up to a good ending. You want to have enough content, but make sure you don’t ramble on about nothing. And be ready to leave on the high point.

Planning ad libs

How can you use planned ad libs in your presentation in order to come across as more effective and engaging? The key is to say it in a manner that it does not seem to be rehearsed or contrived. It needs to seem spontaneous- as if it just popped into your head at that particular moment.This is TJ Walker. He’s a cool American dude, and has great tips on what an ad lib is and where it is suited in the conversation process:

  1. Using any of the previous scripts – CBA, Zambrero, Heineken – and ad lib on the product while reading the ad.
  2. I will set you a random topic. Record your best ad lib for 30 secs.


Voice Breaks

A voice break is another way of describing the bit where you turn on the microphone and talk!

We will look at the music announcer style of presentation and how to prepare a break using:

  • Station ID’s
  • Promotions
  • Maintenance
  • Music

Author: veritychambers

Journalist and teacher

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