Choosing a Voice Over narrator for E-Learning

Photo of girl with a laptop and headphones participating in e-learning
Photo courtesy of anna-shvets

Consider choosing a Voice Over for E-Learning. Use a narration style that matches your demographic, and delivery style for learning

When choosing a Voice Over Narrator for E-Learning, your first consideration might be establishing your target market.

As learning specialists and educators, you’re the best judge with regards to knowing your target market. From there, you might want to consider using a voice over that matches or complements that demographic.

It could be that it’s a mixed demographic. In which case, some of that could be met with the visual and content style. The voice over could match another part of that demographic. Or, you could use more than one voice over.

In choosing the e-learning narrator delivery style, how would you and your client would want the learning material to be conveyed?

It’s worth giving this some consideration when choosing your next Voice Over. Whether it’s the subject matter itself, and/or the script is written in a formal or informal way may help determine the delivery style, but not necessarily.

For example, are you looking for:

  • Clear neutral
  • Warm, calm, and reassuring
  • Credible and authoritative
  • Engaging and personable

A combination of any of these styles is also possible for different sections of content, but many decision makers go for the first option plus one and the above list is by no means exhaustive. I’ve used all of the above delivery styles in the past, but my default style is warm, calm, and reassuring, and for one of my longest-running end clients Cisco Webex,

I tend to use a more engaging and personable style as I’m assisting users navigate the software in ‘how-to’ videos, accompanied by visual on-screen instructions.

Conversely, I have voiced long-form medical audio for Boots, which required a very straight and credible, clear audio at a measured pace.

Take a listen to my E-Learning demo:

There are some other considerations too…

What are the benefits of using an experienced e-learning voice over?

  • You know that you’re in safe hands, and particularly when you can see who’ve they’ve provided voiced e-learning content for before.  Apart from Cisco and Boots, organisations who have used my voice for e-learning include Kellogg’s, Dulux, Pearson, Cambridge University Press, DHL, a UK regional fire and rescue service, a water utilities authority, and the National Grid.
  • Can you listen to e-learning narration samples on their website? If they have, then it’s more likely they already have some experience
  • In terms of learner engagement, are they able to modulate their voice enough when needed to avoid listeners nodding off?!
  • Do they sound like they know what they’re talking about when narrating?!

If the e-learning audio script is lengthy, are they experienced in providing consistent audio throughout the learning content?

‘Lengthy’ is probably more than about 1500 words (around 8-10 minutes depending on pace of read). This is also important if this may become an ongoing project requiring updates and new content. The audio the Voice Over provides should be voice matched to the original content style and pace as much as possible, which is what I do with Cisco Webex guide scripts and updates as they come in. I aim to match the delivery style, its pace, and energy.

Finally…How easy is it to read your script out loud?

Written form can work well if staying in written form. If it’s to be narrated, a script may not necessarily ‘flow’ well when read, so it’s always a good idea to read it out loud after you’ve drafted it. Your chosen Voice Over can usually help check it through and uncover any sticking points. Invariably, if there’s a tendency to slip up on a phrase, this can be a sign that perhaps that phrase might benefit from being modified to sound better when read out loud.

When choosing a Voice Over narrator for e-learning projects, by following some of the above steps may really enhance your online learning product.I hope that the above is helpful, based on several years’ experience voicing e-learning projects. Get in touch if you’re interested in getting a quote or finding out more.

1 thought on “Choosing a Voice Over narrator for E-Learning

  1. Colin McLean

    Excellent points, Lindsay, as ever. I agree with all, very much including your definition of lengthy. It is still something of a mystery to many clients that a ‘read’ of 10 minutes can take more than say 20 to complete; a ratio of anywhere between 4 to 1, or 6 to 1, is, largely dependent on complexity, still ‘good going’, as narrators doubtless would agree. I think one extra advantage may be those narrators who have a good degree of natural linguistic skills – those for whom foreign or polysyllabic words are not an especial challenge, for example. But, as you rightly point out, it’s the intended audience which will very largely determine the ‘best fit’.

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