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Voiceover Artists and Elearning Narrations

Updated on January 20, 2009


Thanks for stopping by - I hope you find the information in this hub helpful in your Elearning creations.

If you're a creator of elearning courses or other online training materials, I hope this hub will be of interest and will persuade you to the benefits of using a professional voiceover artist for your training narrations.

I am a female voiceover artist with a British accent and have provided many training and Elearning narrations for companies world-wide .

Please do get in touch if you would like me to provide you with a no-obligation quote for your elearning project!

10 Things to remember when using Voiceover Narration in E-Learning Courses.

1. Increased bandwidth and streaming media have enhanced the feasibility of integrating audio in online learning environments.

2. The human voice is immensely powerful and expressive.  By modifying loudness, pitch, pace and tone, voiceover narration can be used to motivate and inform students.

3. Use of Voiceover narration can significantly help the learning experience particularly in learning a foreign language.

4. Audio instruction is beneficial for children who have not learned to read and adults who are visually challenged or are unable to read to a functional level.

5. Some studies have shown that learning is more effective when animation and narrations are presented concurrently rather than sequentially. It is recommended that extraneous material such as sound effects and music be excluded from a multimedia presentation.

6. The appropriate narrator (male, female, old, young) depends on the type of course you're creating.  For example, if the course tells a story for young children, it may be more suitable to use a child or female voiceover artist.

7. Choose a voice that can enunciate clearly and at a pace that is suitable for the type of course and the audience it is aimed at.

8. What Gender of narrator should you choose?  Some studies have shown that a combination of male and female was the preferred option to hold attention and interest.

9. Is it necessary to narrate all the text on the screen?  It may be more effective to voice key points and ideas.  However, use audio narration, rather than text or text and audio, to explain a complex visual. Using audio and images manages a learner’s mental load during learning.

10. If you choose to use on screen characters (or Learning Agent) as part of your eLearning course, consider the importance of the agent’s voice. Agents that use conversational audio narration in a familiar human accent rather than onscreen text or machine-generated language have better learning results.

Written by Alison Pitman.  

Why It Pays to Use a Professional Voiceover for your eLearning Narrations

Just because your elearning software allows you to record your own narration, it doesn't automatically follow that you should.  You may think that recording the narration yourself, or asking your work colleagues to record it for you,  will be the cheaper option.  However, in the long-run this isn't necessarily the case.   Here are six reasons why using an amateur voice - whether thats you or your friends - can be a false economy.

1. You/Your colleagues may have a nice sounding voice, but it takes more than a nice voice to produce a professional narration.  Voiceover artists have the experience and techniques to get the correct tone, inflections and pace.

2. You may have the software to enable recording, but do you have the right recording environment?  A professional voiceover artist usually works within a home recording studio which is set up to provide an ideal acoustic environment.  They can provide you with recordings that are free of background sounds, elimanating noises like the whirr of computer fans and airconditioning systems.

3. A professional Voice over artist has also invested more time and expense in their recording hardware.  They will have access to more sophisticated equipment than your $10 USB mic, and they will also have the technological knowledge to get the best sound out of their gear.

4. Long-form narration is a skill that not everyone has the talent for - even some professional voiceover artists prefer to concentrate on shorter voiceover projects and avoid projects like training, e-learning and audio book narration.  The ability to read consistently throughout the whole course takes experience and confidence.

5. Using amateur voices will require more re-takes and therefore will take more time to complete the project. 

6. When you send out your eLearning course to your client for review, they may well complain about the audio quality from your amateur voice recordings.  You can then either spend time re-editing to see whether issues can be resolved without a re-record.  Or alternatively, hire a professional voice artist to record the whole course again, but provide you with quality audio recordings with a professional sounding narration.

 Written by Alison Pitman.

4 factors to consider when choosing a Voice over Artist for your eLearning narrations

Gender - Would your students respond better to a female or male narrator?  This may depend on the type of eLearning course you are developing and the audience it is intended for.  Younger children may prefer a female voice for a training course. An industry that is particularly male-orientated may prefer to hear a male voice.

Age -  This refers to the Age of the Voice, rather than the age of the Voiceover Actor.  Some voiceovers have a more mature sound than their years, other voice actors specialize in providing child-like voiceovers which work particularly well voicing some online animations.  Again, the age of the audience should be taken into consideration.  Training programs developed for a company who recruits mainly younger staff will lend itself to a fresh, younger sounding voice, to give a modern, funky edge to its narrations.

Style -  The nature of the training program will heavily influence the style you will ask your voiceover artist to narrate the script in.  If it is a language training module, the style should be slower, clear, paying particular attention to enunciation and diction.  The script writers should also keep in mind how the narration should be said - if they are after a more relaxed conversational tone, its important that the script is written to take this into consideration.  Instead of "do not" write "don't" for example.  Small adjustments can help loosen up the script to produce a less formalised tone.

Accent - Do you choose an accent native to your viewers and listeners?  Do you go for a more international feel?  A British RP accent is sometimes chosen to represent an international training program where listeners will be from a wide spectrum of countries.  This could be a decision made on an asumption that a British RP accent will be the most widely understood accent.

Written by Alison Pitman.

How to hire a professional voiceover artist for your Elearning Narration.

Once you have identified a potential voiceover artist that you would like to work with, here are some steps to follow to making the hiring process go as smoothly as possible.

1.  If your script is already written email the full script for a quotation.

2. If the script is still a work in progress email an approximation of the final length in either time or number of words. A word count is preffered over a page count as font size and style, marigns and layout can all influence how many words are on a page.  Dont forget to mention that the script is to be used as a elearning narration. 

3. If you are choosing between 2 or three voiceover artists, why dont you ask each to record a short section from the script to help with the casting decision.  Most voiceover artists are more than happy to record this free of charge and understand that it may involve several people to get a final casting decision.

4. Your voiceover artist should then be able to provide you with a quote and estimated turnaround time for the recording. 

5. If you are working to a tight schedule or tight budget do let your voiceover artist know the constraints you are working to.  Most voiceover artists will do their best to accomodate your requirements.

6. With regards to the quote, confirm whether the quote includes editing into the individual screen/slides.  Also confirm whether the quote is for a full-buyout, 1 year license or 2 year license. 

7. Confirm the audio format you require and make sure the voiceover artist can deliver in the specified format.  Also check which delivery method they will get the audio files to you.  Methods can vary from uploading to your FTP server, CD overnight, or via an online file transfer system such as

8. Confirm the payment options with your voiceover artist.  Some voiceover artists request a 50% deposit before recording can begin.  Many voiceover artists are happy to receive payment via paypal, cheque or bank transfer. 

Written by Alison Pitman.   

Are you sabotaging your own Elearning projects?

As a creator of online ELearning programmes you are well aware of the time and effort that is required to create a usable learning interface and quality content.  But are you sabotaging all your good work by ignoring or sidelining the voiceover script and narration? In an attempt to 'keep it real' it seems that some elearning producers prefer to record their own voices for the narration and ad lib the script as the go. Is this a good idea?

 For some small, in-house elearning projects it can make financial sense to record your own narration or use the voice of a colleague or member of staff. If you know that the audience will be sympathetic to the final product.  However, its always worth keeping in mind that your responsiblity ultimately lies with your audience.  If you are creating a teaching project that is to help students learn, than it is critical to make the learning experience as pleasant and as effective as possible.  Is your current audio narration proving to be just a distraction?

Respect your viewers and listeners - do they have time to sit through all your ums and ahhs.  I've no doubt your students are busy people, are you making the narration as tight and concentrated as it could be.  Are you providing them all the information they need in the most concise and engaging manner or do they have to sit through an unscripted, rambling monlogue?

What about the audio quality you are subjecting your students too.  Everyone is more tech savvy than ever and will quickly point out an inferior quality product.  Are you able to use professional recording equipment in a controlled recording environment to produce quality audio recordings?

Consider the vocal style of your narration - are you able to bring personality, inflection and emotion to your read in clear, confident speech?  A confusion seem to arise between wanting to have a 'natural' delivery and a belief that by using a professional voiceover artist you will only get highly polished, forced, un-natural read.  A professional artist will be able to provide you a natural, conversational voiceover if you ask them to - that is what they are trained to do!  Have a listen to your natural, keep it real style of voiceover - will it just sound amateurish to your students? 

At the end of the day, you are creating courses to teach, and its in everyones interest to use all the tools available to create an engaging and efficient learning system.  If you can help your students improve their learning experience they will appreciate it and come back for more!

Written by Alison Pitman.

How Much Is It Costing You to Record Your Own Elearning Narrations?

You may think that you're saving money by recording and editing your own voiceover narration for your eLearning programs.  However, have you thought about how much time you're spending on these narrations and worked out the true cost. You've spent time creating and delivering quality content and user friendly elearning programs - why compromise on the quality of the audio narration and ultimately the learning experience of your users.  Many companies assume using a professional voiceover artist is hugely expensive.  But its not as expensive as you may think.   For a Elearning course which has 1 hour of voiceover narration, you can expect to pay anywhere between $500 - $1500.  For that money, you'll  be getting:

1.  A professional narrator who can bring your script to life.  They have the experience and techniques to get the correct tone, inflections and pace.

2. They will have access to professional equipment and a suitable recording environment.  Their home studio will be acoustically treated so they don't have to compete with the noise of an everyday working office.  You will receive audio files free from background noise and with consistent sound levels.  They will generally work with a higher standard of microphone and recording hardware.

3. They can edit the narration into the inividual screens/slides ready for you to quickly slot them into the elearning module.

4. An increase in your own productivity. What else could you be doing with your time?  Your time isn't free, how much is it really costing you to record that 'free' voiceover.  You'll probably spend at least twice the amount of time recording and editing your voiceover.  And you are still compromising on the quality of the recordings.  Remember to factor in prep times and re-recording and re-editing time.

Written by Alison Pitman.


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    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      5 years ago from USA

      These are very helpful tips for professionals who are in the need of hiring voice talent for their eLearning projects.


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