According to Forbes, in 2014, the eLearning market was worth 166 billion dollars, and by 2025 it was projected to jump to 325 billion, nearly double in just one decade. This growing industry deserves the highest standards and quality voiceover of educational content. I was shocked when I recently came across an online conversation between two voiceover artists that indicated neither one had any respect for the genre of eLearning voiceover.
eLearning Voiceover Conversations
“It’s only eLearning,” I observed them saying to each other. No. It’s not. It’s educational content that people must absorb and understand so they can graduate! eLearning could be part of a vocational course that must be completed successfully for people to continue working in their chosen field. Companies design eLearning courses to foster behaviour change in staff. In many cases, it’s even a legal requirement for some people to complete a course and answer test questions successfully before setting foot on a site. eLearning is a serious business, and it deserves narrators who treat it as such.
“It’s only eLearning,” they said about someone’s demo reel, “So it’s okay if all the samples sound the same” Hmm. I beg to differ. Pace, pitch, rhythm, articulation, flow, tone, and melody can be uniquely delivered while narrating eLearning content. This variation helps ensure you speak to your audience, not AT them. Learners need to feel connected to the material before engaging with it and getting the most out of it. Having a relatable narrator creates a direct link between the course material and the learner, and this connection affects how much information learners absorb and retain.
eLearning Customized to Each Audience
The way I sound when I narrate industrial OH&S course material is hugely different from how I sound when conveying material for financial institutions or medical students. And if I used my lower primary school delivery styles on a course intended for high school students? Well, I think we all know how that would go.
How Long Does it Take to Create eLearning Voiceover?
One minute of an interactive eLearning course will take 197 hours to develop. But a one-hour eLearning course can range from 49 hours for a basic level course to 716 hours for an advanced level course.
Instructional designers and eLearning developers spend hours upon hours building courses intended to hold the learner’s attention. Engaging a narrator who views content as essential and understands that each course deserves its unique narration style is critical. The voiceover that genuinely speaks to its intended audience will ensure participants stay focussed and invested in their learning. A disconnected or unrelatable narrator can undo months of hard work and leave developers wondering why their course isn’t getting better results. If the narrator doesn’t sound interested in the content, how can the students be expected to remain so?
Advice for eLearning Developers
Choose a narrator with skills and passion for the work. Respect the genre and the number of hours. You want a narrator to compliment the tone and style of the course. Find a narrator who has the right sound for your course. If you don’t hear it on their demo, ask for a custom audition for the part of your script.
Most professionals will be more than happy to oblige. We all know how helpful it can be to hear your course material spoken. Once you’ve agreed with your chosen voice, they let you sign off on an initial narration sample, which ensures you’re clear on pace and delivery.
What eLearning Voiceover Artists Need to Remember
WHO are you speaking to? WHY are they taking the course? WHAT is the tone of the material? HOW is it written? Is the language casual or formal? The answers to these questions will help you make your narration unique to the course you’re working on. We all have strengths and areas of interest, and we want repeat business.
The voiceover narration should be as strong a link in the chain as every other element of the project. If not, you may not work for that client again. Being passionate about your work can make all the difference to your performance. And if you want a slice of the pie in what is clearly a booming industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars, you best make sure your demo showcases more than one style of read!