There are no two ways about it: the e-learning voice-over market is booming. People have woken up en masse to the possibility of learning through the use of technology. This enables them to make use of courses specifically designed for smartphones and portable technologies. These courses also rely on audiovisual cues to teach their audiences in more engaging, effective ways than traditional academic material.
This trend also creates the necessity of accessing a pool of dependable e-learning voice-over professionals. Crafting hard-hitting content that’s clear, immediate, memorable, and concise is only half the battle. The other half is making the content spring to life through the use of sound, specifically voice.
You may be on the business or academic side of things or trying to get your start in the prolific e-learning voice-over market. That’s excellent! It means you’re savvy to the fact that having great, quality content is not enough these days; you also need to keep it fresh using every means at your disposal.
This means utilizing the human element for success — whether you’re crafting these courses or at the end of the mic. You need to learn how to do e-learning voice over well.
When cost is an issue (and when isn’t it?) you may be tempted to cut corners.
On the face of it, creating an e-learning voice over might look like a fairly straightforward task. You might wonder how hard it can be when you’re virtually an expert on the subject itself, and you are a human who is capable of speech!
Why pay somebody to speak when you can speak, right?
The answer to that is the same as to why you should let Adele handle the singing duties.
As well as having great sounding voices, professionals have already ironed out all the kinks, snags, and pitfalls that can dog a production. So, looking for a professional voice actor to record your project is very important.
Time is money, and you will be encountering all the roadblocks to progress for the first time if you do it yourself.
Besides, you’ll have your hands full just preparing your production. To do that, here are several practical tips gleaned from e-learning industry for producing more effective e-learning voice overs.
Tone of Voice
Always think about what kind of tone you want to adopt for a voice over, as it’s part of the identity of the piece.
Using that same tone of voice with the same inflections that explained how to inflate a lifejacket in the airline safety video might not be effective for describing how to assemble a carburetor.
A professional voice over artist will maintain the same tone throughout an entire series of e-learning modules. This consistency is important to maintain authority and authenticity and will seem jarring if it drifts.
An e-learning script should usually be natural and conversational.
A voice over artist will try to help learners feel as if they are listening to someone who is pleasant and approachable, rather than someone just announcing train times.
There is some debate about whether learning styles exist, but if they do, then audio delivery might appeal to what are termed “auditory learners;” and a pleasant voice with the right tone may give a much-needed boost to very dry content.
Let the script sound natural and conversational
Even if you won’t be reading it yourself, write a script in such a way that your learners will feel as though the person behind the voice is a friendly and approachable expert.
They need to be respectful, personable, and professional.
The script shouldn’t condescend to your learners, and try to keep the voice in the present tense and active.
Active voice sentences clearly identify an action and who is performing it, and are much more direct than passive voice sentences.
To work out whether you are using active voice, look at the subject of the sentence and decide whether it’s doing something or whether something is being done to it. For example:
Passive voice: Further information (subject) can be found (action) by learners on our website.
Active voice: Learners (subject) can find (action) further information (object) on our website.
The audio is there to aid learning
Remember that your e-learning voice over is made up of elements that need to work together with none of them dominant.
When learners read information, the voice over will help to increase knowledge retention. It should be working in partnership with text and visual elements rather than trying to dominate them.
Use the voice over to post questions, give examples or offer anecdotes that serve to illustrate a point.
Keep your soundscape clean
Yet another reason to use a skilled voice talent with professional recording gear: background noise will stick out like a polka-dot bowtie in a military parade and will distract your audience.
Anything you can do to reduce the amount of audio clutter in your recording will help the final product no end, so dampen white noise from things like computer fans and air conditioners.
You can use thevoice over recording software to edit your audio. And you can use free tools such as Audacity to reduce noise later, but it’s better if it’s not there in the first place as you’ll spend less time editing and the final recording will be crisper.
A learning video needs a script just like a meal needs a recipe.
The script is the map of what’s going to happen, it charts the territory that your learner is going to explore and it presents it in a succession of discrete segments that build upon each other to take them from not knowing to knowing.
Even if the subject matter is bland, the script is there to spice it up as much as possible, to make it palatable, and to finally send the learner on their way with new information.
It goes without saying that getting the script right is important, so here are some pointers for doing just that.
Make the script a conversation
Dictating facts will have all the interest of drying paint.
Learners like to engage with a personality that they find appealing, that’s just human nature.
So, your script should sound casual and include words like “we”, “you”, and “us” as it leads learners on a shared journey through all the information that you’re asking them to absorb.
Check the flow as you go by reading aloud to yourself as you write it. If it feels warm and engaging to you then it will to your audience as well.
Edit, edit, rinse and repeat
It would be nice if your e-learning script was right the first time, but usually, they’re not.
Chances are you will need to proofread, edit, and revise your script, although not necessarily on your own.
Having someone else look over what you’ve written often means that they will pick-up on the mistakes that you’ve missed through just being over-familiar with it. In the same way, you might find that putting it to one side and then coming back to it later throws up a few errors that you didn’t see before.
Probably the best way to ensure that it’s perfect though is to hire a professional editor to comb it for errors and improve the flow.
And error checking itself is really important, as a professional voice over artist will probably stumble over bad grammar and spelling.
Format your script in a manner that is easily understood by the voice artist you decide to work with and leaves no room for any doubt about pronunciation or style direction issues.
Thank you for your reading. Good Luck!