How to Choose a Voice Over Artist for Your eLearning Course
Choosing a voice actor for your eLearning course can seem like a daunting task. Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking a voice artist to narrate your courses:
Type of Voice for eLearning
There are many different types of voices that can be used for eLearning. Some common choices include a narrator, an instructor, or a character voice. The type of voice you choose should be based on the tone and style of your course. For example, a course targeting kids that is light-hearted and fun may benefit from a character voice, while a more serious or educational course may be better suited to a more classical instructor voice.
Another obvious consideration is whether you want a female or male voice. This can be difficult to decide until you've heard samples of your script with both male and female voices. In some cases, you may want to utilize multiple voices, in these situations you will often find that using a mix of genders helps keep the course engaging, leading to better overall retention of the subject matter.
Proper Fit for the Material
You'll want to make sure that the voice is a good fit for your course content.
The last thing you want is for your students to be distracted by a sound that doesn't match the tone of your material.
Benefits of Hiring a Pro Voice Over Talent
Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that you can be assured of a high-quality recording. Nobody wants to suffer through hours of instruction that sounds like it was recorded in a bathroom stall. Professional eLearning voice-over narrators utilize high-quality equipment and dedicated recording studios, which results in a clear and polished recording, with broadcast-quality audio.
Additionally, professional voice over artists have the experience and expertise to know how to deliver your script in the most effective way possible. Throughout every module of your online training, they can add appropriate inflection and emotion to your message to really connect with your students.
Finally, working with a professional eLearning voice over artist can save you time and hassle. Handling the logistics of recording, so you can focus on other aspects of your project.
Are They Familiar with the Subject Matter?
Your voice over professional doesn't have to be a subject matter expert, but having at least some basic familiarity with the subject matter is usually important. Someone who has never worked in a technical field may not understand how to convey certain jargon or terms in a convincing manner that makes them sound like the authority figure they should be as the instructor of your learning material. Of course, if you do find a voice who is both experienced in e-learning narration and professional voice overs who also happens to be an SME - obviously you'll be using the right voice actor!
Budget is a hot-button issue for most voice over projects, and e-learning is no exception. When hiring a professional e-learning voice talent, you'll want to inquire about their rates. Some have set rates, and others will quote project by project.
E-Learning pricing models typically fall into one of four categories
- Per word: Typically in the 20¢ - 35¢ per word range, at the higher end of the scale for technical or complicated language, and sometimes with discounts for bulk work
- Per finished minute: Typically in the $30 - $55 per finished minute range. This is inclusive of editing, again often toward the higher end for technical or complicated scripts.
- Per raw hour: $600 - $2500 per hour. This is raw, unedited audio from the recording session(s)
- Per finished hour: $1500 - $3500 per hour. This is fully edited audio ready to drop into a timeline and use. For shorter projects, $800 per 15 minutes of finished audio is fairly typical
You can reasonably expect some additional expenses in the event you:
- Want to do directed sessions. Since this requires blocking off studio time during regular business hours for your project, as well as additional preparation time before a session, and extra logistics, typically there will be additional session fees, and often per-word fees for directed sessions.
- Need file splitting. Fees are typically inexpensive but you should expect some additional charges.
- Plan to use the e-learning material as a for-profit online course or other free-to-access or non-internal training purposes. In this case, you should expect to negotiate a usage contract, typically in per-year increments.
Costs Might be Negotiable
Many times, rates aren't set in stone and can be negotiated. In the case of eLearning, unlike some other forms of voice over, often times bulk work can mean better rates. Instead of running away with sticker shock at a quote when hiring voice talent, it's ok to ask if there is any wiggle room in the rates, especially if you're bringing hours of material to be narrated. But please, don't try to squeeze them for a discount if their rates are fair and in line with the standards mentioned above, or with a promise of future work. If you have bulk work now, today, great. If you might sometime in the future, that'll be a separate topic on that future date.
If you'd like more information about standard voiceover rates in the eLearning industry, some good resources are:
Some Things to Avoid
We've looked at some of the criteria you should look for when finding and choosing the right voice talent for your eLearning project, here are a few things you'll want to avoid.
AI voice tools continue to improve and have certainly made vast strides in recent years, but there are many reasons to avoid automated voices.
For one thing, they can be very frustrating to deal with, often getting pronunciations wrong or having odd tonality or inflection on certain words that is distracting. These issues can be challenging or impossible to correct. Automated voices are also often difficult to understand, with unclear speech or strange pacing.
They can also be very monotone and boring, or the polar opposite far too sing-song or with inappropriate moods that can make it hard to stay focused on the material.
Bob from Accounting
Sure, Bob's got a nice speaking voice. But you're trying to engage your learners, and the simple truth is 90% of the time having the person in the office with a "nice voice" reading from a typed page is just going to sound like someone reading from a page. Your audience might feel like they're being read stereo instructions rather than being taught the interesting subject matter you're trying to convey.
You want your learners to enjoy your training material. A grating or irritating voice will always be counterproductive.
Your voiceover artist should speak with energy and not sound bored and monotone. There are occasions when a more monotone delivery might be acceptable, but in general, to keep people engaged, even with fairly dry material, an interesting voice that is not so "interesting" as to be distracting is helpful.
They should generally use a conversational tone, some natural variation to their pitch and tone is expected, but overly sing-songy will not be pleasant to listen to throughout the duration of a long e-learning course. They should also speak at a reasonable pace. Too slow is annoying, and too fast is hard to understand.
There are many things to consider with finding and choosing the right eLearning voiceover talent. Hopefully this article has given you some useful tips to consider when looking at potential voice actors for your project. One final piece of advice, when writing your script take time to read it aloud before you hire an artist to record it, the last thing you want is to hand off a clunky script that doesn't flow when read aloud, and it's a painless step in the development process that provides time and cost savings and helps to ensure you're happy with the results.
Whether you're still deciding between male or female narration or are ready to get started, Will Vincent is ready to work with you on a custom quote or audition. He can take your eLearning project, and deliver broadcast quality audio recordings, fast, and hassle free.