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 the what, how, why, when, and who of the e-learning voice-over trade. That’s what’ll get you from e-learning to e-earning!
We’ll wait while you fill up your favorite mug with some coffee — yes, the one with the cat is OK.
Ready? Let’s do this!
But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
So, what was e-learning anyway?
E-learning refers to a learning process that is based on standard, formalized training. The difference is that this mode of learning uses digital, networked resources as the vehicle for the educational material. Computers, the internet, smartphones — every electronic tool can be converted into a learning center.
“eLearning is the use of network technology to design, deliver, select, administer, and extend learning.”
At first, access to e-learning was kept to the lucky few that had an internet connection. As technology developed and mobile devices became commonplace, this became democratized. The industry gradually snowballed into a giant. Reuters estimates that it will reach a phenomenal $275.10 billion value by 2020, with an annual growth of 5%.
This incredible growth can be attributed to many factors, but the only one that stands out:
Cellphones have become the go-to multimedia platform for everyone. As they evolved from standalone communication platforms to their current Swiss-Army knife status, so did their use. Not just that, they redefined e-learning itself to encompass broader categories. An interesting blog article, a quiz, en explainer video — all can be thought of as e-learning.
The convenience and reach of this learning modality are astounding. It also means that it’s within everyone’s reach. Whether you’re implementing as part of your business model or as a learner, it’s very easy to get started!
The e-learning voice-over and its power
Why, then, bring voice-overs into the mix? Because with platforms that encompass the full spectrum of multimedia, you’d be best served by doing so!
How so? The answer is mercifully simple. Scientific research has been pretty decisive in showing that people who learn through audiovisual cues learn better. We’ve linked to just one study here, but there’s a wealth of evidence in support of this phenomenon.
That is because learning through the combined power of audio and visual cues improves:
- Memory and concept retention.
The combination of these factors is known as “multisense processing.” Are you already thinking about where the e-learning voice-over comes into this? That’s right, it is the perfect tool for leveraging multisense processing!
The combination of images and the spoken word is an extremely powerful content for learning. This applies to material across the board as well! The e-learning concept is applicable to many things, not just the traditional “school” material you may be thinking about. They apply to:
Traditional academic learning courses. Universities have even gone online!
- Shorter, intensive, non-standardized learning courses.
- Corporate learning material. That’s presentations, courses, training material, etc. Think about the ways to bring new knowledge to employees.
- Branding and marketing elements. Think “Explainer videos” and similarly didactic branding tools. Anything that explains a product or service in detail can be thought of as e-learning.
Is the image starting to come into focus? That’s because the benefits of this learning modality are undeniable.
If you want a piece of that pie, we assume you want to get things started off the right way. Read on, then!
What am I looking for in a good e-learning voice-over?
This is equally important whether you’re the voice talent or scouting for it. You need to have a firm grasp on what a particular e-learning material is going to be saying. That’s how you assess if a voice (or your voice) is the right fit.
For example, a male voice is not perceived equally as a female voice by an audience. Male voices are usually seen as more authoritative and stern, traits associated with factual information. Think about the classic baritone speaking in measured tones during a documentary feature.
Of course, things are not so gendered these days, and there are wide-ranging preferences. Things may be somewhat more biased in the marketing and political message sectors, but no so much in e-learning.
That means you should have a deep knowledge of your intended audience! E-learning still works the same as any other industry. That means that establishing target demographics and areas of action remains crucial.
Knowing who a particular learning material is aimed to makes it easier to determine the type of voice you need for a project. A learning course targeted at teenagers may not be well served by a male voice in their 50s. They may associate it with a figure of authority and prohibition; conversely, a female voice their teens or twenties may convey an implicit trust.
Discerning what type of e-learning voice-over your audience needs is part of good market analysis.
We can’t handle that part for you, but we can do you a solid by letting you know some proper quality indicators. When going for an e-learning voice-over, keep this in mind and you’ll already have a foot in the door.
Proper cadence and enunciation
You don’t want a voice that’s speaking at a million miles per hour. Rushing through any material is sure to make people lose interest fast. This also applies to the way you should design your e-learning course. If you want to maximize retention, videos and presentations should have a pace that’s more leisurely than hurried.
You also want to make sure that the person is a pro at reading and doesn’t slur or mispronounce words. With material that’s complex, some coaching may be needed. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and not find that retakes or recasting are necessary.
So, it’s important for an e-learning voice-over artist to not rush and speak clearly. Always respect the source material and hew as closely as possible to guidelines.
A note on accent, sex, gender and age
This applies to what we’ve said above. Always keep in mind the audience you’re addressing when casting (or applying) for projects. If possible, attempt to test run your project with a varied sample of your target audience. The good thing about voices is that people react pretty strongly to them, and it’s really easy to tell if they’re satisfied or not.
Satisfaction with an e-learning voice-over will generally come to individual reactions to a narrator’s:
- Accent and local idiosyncrasies.
- Sex and gender.
Pay attention to these! When teaching English, a native or close-to-native accent may be needed, for example. Somebody who’s not “quite there” may foster distrust in your material, and make the whole project come crashing down. This applies equally to other geographical considerations. Localized content may sometimes be better for people to understand the material. In others (for example, with mathematics), a more general approach may be warranted.
Same with other indicators. It’s better to approach these things with a clinical eye and test them out as much as possible.
This may seem like a big “duh!” to you, but trust us; we’ve seen more than one project completely tank due to bad recording quality. You may want to check out this guide. It’s great for producing your own voice-overs and for developing an ear for quality.
You need to maintain, first of all, close attention to sound quality. This necessitates a proper mic, recording environment and software. Attention also needs to be paid to post-recording editing. Crackles, pops, hisses and breathing need to be completely removed. We can’t tell you how bad it is for engagement when a voice-over sounds like it was recorded at 3 am in somebody’s bathroom while they struggle to stay away.
It even happens in big movies, so forewarned is forearmed.
Should I outsource my e-learning voice-over, or produce in-house?
This is one of those cases where it’s a matter of preference. As long as you know what you’re doing and follow the best practices in the articles we linked above, you should be OK. That being said, you should know that your in-house talent can accurately and correctly embody your mission.
If you don’t, then maybe you should think about creative outsourcing. You can find a voice that perfectly matches the age, sex, gender, accent, and intent of your e-learning course. Prices can go up a bit, yes, but you’ll receive a job done right every time. If you’ve done your homework with your demographics, this could save you a world of hassle.
This is also a good choice if you’re getting your legs in the e-learning voice-over business. Going with an agency or outsourcing platform is a great way to ensure a steady flow of clients. They also won’t allow you to go off track. Your deliverables will have to be perfect.
Now we assume things are clearer for you! Here’s hoping that you can leverage the power of multisense processing in your favor! Adding a quality e-learning voice-over to your e-learning projects can produce fascinating, lasting results. Most importantly, it’ll get you the engagement these projects desperately need and deserve. An engaged audience is a returning audience, and it virtually ensures success.
Here’s wishing you the best on your e-learning voice-over search!