You’ve put the finishing touches on the script for your client. Your company has just spent thousands of dollars creating the perfect visuals, countless hours perfecting the story, and you’ve even decided on some cool background music.
It all looks fantastic, should be a huge success. Right? Now, all you need to do is have somebody voice these modules.
Who? How about Mary or Joe in Accounting – (such a nice voice)?
Does Mary or Joe in Accounting know how to:
- tell a story?
- engage with the learner--do they communicate to a group of plumbers the same way they do with college students or executives?
- not sound monotone, nor too sing-song-y nor robotic?
- get rid of “bad sound”, i.e., remove background noise, mouth clicks, etc.? Know how to use audio editing software? (Sound matters. Audio should enhance the copy, not detract from it, nor should it distract the learner. Every script is a conversation. The professional voice talent knows precisely how to hone in on your audience, and relay your information in an engaging manner.)
- meet deadlines? How long will it take Mary or Joe in Accounting to record your module(s) without mistakes? Oh, wait, they have to finish their own work first? But your deadline is 48 hours away! Will they make it? But, if they’re recording modules, when will their regular work get done?
What a nightmare! It doesn’t have to be, when you hire a professional voice talent.
The professional voice talent is a trained actor, who communicates, not just reads, your story. The professional voice talent knows:
- the audience (doctors, truck drivers, young children),
- what the tone of the delivery should be (more formal with an executive audience, more casual for college students),
- records in a quiet area (no noise, no echo-y spaces), with professional audio editing software and professional recording hardware,
- deadlines are crucial, and must be adhered to, and
- most important of all, tells the story of your brand.
What can I expect from a professional voice talent?
When you hire a professional talent, you’re hiring:
- an actor,
- a business person, and
- a technical person.
A professional voice talent:
- Has experience in voice over performance and knowledge of the voice over industry
- Has experience in YOUR elearning area (IT, medical, etc.)
- Has a professional studio
- Is deadline-oriented
- Is professional
- Will review/prep the text
- Will confirm desired tone
- Will set up the audio files
- Will record, doing multiple takes (if requested by client)
- Will clean up unwanted sounds
- Will prepare the final output
- Reviews the recording and names files
- Converts files to format of your choice and send to you (delivery of your choice—Dropbox, email, etc.)
So, now you know what’s involved from the professional voice talent’s end of the equation.
What does a professional voice talent need from you for best results? They need:
- Your deadline – when do you need it? A professional voice talent can turn around most scripts within 24-48 hours (depending on the length and complexity of the script).
- What kind of voice/delivery do you want? Voice – language, gender, age, personality/tone. Delivery – pace, emotional tone, formality, smile.
- What type of files - .wav, .mp3, .flac? Files – would you like them raw? Cleaned up? Final? Should they be separated, or one whole file? How will the files be named?
- Will there be music?
- Can you give them an idea of visuals?
- How would you like your files delivered? (Dropbox, email, etc.)?
- We need to agree on rate.
- Where/how is the information being used (group vs. personal)?
- Do the learners speak native English?
- Any timing needs, i.e., to follow the visuals?
Wow! Okay, so now you’re sold on hiring a professional voice talent.
Where do you find a professional voice talent, and how will you know what they sound like?
Listed below are just a few places where you can start your search:
- www.voiceover.biz – Connecting voice actors and talent seekers. The professional member voice talent directory of World-Voices Organization (WoVO®) www.world-voices.org. Every voice talent listed on voiceover.biz has gone through a rigorous review process. World-Voices Organization is a non-profit, member-driven industry association of professional voice talent.
- www.elearningvoices.com – experienced elearning voice talent.
- Join the eLearning Narrators group on Facebook. It’s a community on Facebook of voice actors specifically interested in elearning.
- Elearning voice actors – www.elearningindustry.com.
- www.voagentalliance.com - a collective of vetted professional voiceover talent agencies committed to the highest standards the business has to offer.
- www.voice123.com – online voice casting service.
Still not sure if or how to choose the right voice talent for your project? Send a portion of your script with some specifications (what you’re looking for) to the talent(s) directly, and ask them to audition your material and give them a deadline of when you want the audition. With a specific audition, you can be rest assured the talent understands your message, and delivers it the way you want it.
In a nut shell, the professional voice talent puts the icing on the cake, so to speak. You’ve already spent lots of time and heaps of money creating your modules. Why leave your “message delivery” in the hands of someone in-house, who doesn’t have the expertise required to engage your listener? The professional voice talent pulls the whole project together. Hiring a professional voice talent saves you time and money. That’s the job of a professional voice talent.
And that’s why you need a professional voice talent to narrate your eLearning modules!
Special thanks goes to Randye Kaye whose research contributed tremendously to this blog post.
Marie Hoffman is an accomplished American voice over artist, voice over coach, radio host, actress, singer and author based in Connecticut. She has worked in the voice over industry for more than 30 years.