Top 10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your eLearning Voiceover Artist
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eLearning Voiceover Artist: How Can We Get The Most Out Of It?

"I need a voiceover artist for my eLearning project. This client is important to me, but I have no idea how to direct a voiceover or how to talk to them before they record! I know what I want in my head, but how do I direct them to get the tone and feel I need for the project?"

This is a common issue Instructional Designers face in the burgeoning digital learning industry. As the market hits $325 billion by 2025, as Global Industry Analytics quoted in Forbes, and with the rise of Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) like Netflix, you will have to become an audio director, in addition to all the other skills that Instructional Design requires if you want your eLearning project to stand out and be noticed by both client and learner.

Read on for the 10 best ways to get the most out of your voiceover artist. A means of talking to them in their own vocabulary that gives you what you need so that your client raves about your work and tells everyone else!

1. Emotion

Events are usually only remembered when connected to an emotional experience. So, if you want the learning module to impact the learner and linger in their mind and body long after it has been listened to, make sure you communicate what emotional journey the words are taking the audience on. Even if it is complex language about a product that the learner must operate, the text of that learning module must take the learner on a journey.

Once the voiceover knows the emotional journey, or through the line, everything else tends to fall into place.

Consider also giving some verbs as yardsticks for the delivery. The aim of the piece is to excite, cheer, embolden, energize, etc, a methodology often used in commercial and radio voiceover to target the effect of each sentence.

2. Smile More

Depending on the aim of the piece, ask your voiceover to smile more. Why? So long as the feeling is genuine, people like and trust people who radiate warmth and fun. This can be heard in the voice, too. There is a marked difference between delivering a read with and without a smile. Ask the voiceover to continuously smile throughout the delivery. Magic will happen, as long as it fits with the overall objective of the learning module.

3. Wolverine

Yes, that's right X-men and women. Why is that in this list? Because it may be a reference point that comes to your mind after the client call for how you both want the voiceover to be recorded, in order to satisfy point 1 above, the tone and feel of the piece.

There is nothing new under the sun, so use anything and everything to help the voiceover artist to give the vocal delivery that is in the mind of your client. References can include anything from other well-known people, content pieces, works of art, characters in animation, gaming or film and TV. What other forms of art best evoke the mood that we are all trying to create together? That will then infuse itself into the subconscious of the voiceover artist, whose vocal folds and voice will then create. What a magical process!

4. Final Copy ASAP

Sometimes clients can take time to get their ideas together. As soon as humanly possible, get the final signed off copy to the artist. More time in preparation makes for a faster and more effective voiceover session as everyone is on the same page working from the same script. It will also save you money!

How?

It will cut down the cost of revisions to the project after the voiceover session. Every time the copy is tweaked after the recording there are re-record costs associated, as the voiceover needs to book another session in their booth. This is good for you, good for the bottom line, and great for the client.

5. Remote Direction

Unless you have a long-standing relationship with your artist and trust them to deliver every time, in which case you can have 1 minute all to yourself right now while everyone reads the rest, make sure your artist can enable remote direction. What does this mean?

The rapid pace of technology has enabled the set up of broadcast quality studios for next to nothing. This means that from the comfort of your office or home, you can listen in to the voiceover artist's studio and direct them in the session, usually at no cost to you. Some of the main players in this space: Source Connect, Skype, ipDTL, BodagoCall. Most voiceovers know them and use them regularly. The price of not working this way, more time and energy spent back and forth and ultimately more money lost in the voiceover process.

With the, sometimes, large volumes of words being spoken in eLearning, it would be advised to listen in for the first session and use that as a sign off for getting the right tone and style, that the voiceover can then carry on with for the many sessions to come. As my grandmother said, “start right so that you can end well”.

6. Conversational, Peer To Peer

Most eLearning modules are about one human teaching another human. Studies have always shown that coming from a place of love -conversational- works better than fear or command -announcer. So it is with the most common tone request in voiceover “Conversational, friend next door, not announcer”.

How do I get the voiceover to sound like this? Add some of tip 2 above, smile more, and strategies like getting the VO to imagine talking to their friend or close family member. Tell them to imagine having that person physically in the booth with them. Also, get them closer into the microphone and facing slightly off-center to the left or right. The result is a lot of genuine warmth, spontaneity and ease that comes off in the read without little need to push or make something happen, especially useful when communicating something like: “Take socket 1a and insert into the hydroventrical anterior subunit.”

7. Shake It Up A: Pace

Sometimesavoiceovercanbespeakingveryquickly. Translation: Sometimes a voiceover artist is speaking too fast for the copy. M a y b e  I t  I s  t o o  s l o w. Translation: Maybe they are speaking too slow. What’s the solution? For a few times, have the voiceover speak the copy as fast as possible if slowness is an issue, or as slow as possible if speed is an issue. Then get them to do a take again normally. See how that changes the read.

8. Shake It Up B: Pitch

Humans tend to grow into a limited pitch range for their voice. When it comes to voicing for eLearning, the challenge is to get out of set rhythms in everyday life and bring a liveliness to the reading that is not just through projection. If this is absent from the reading, get the voiceover to say the copy in just the lowest pitch possible or the highest. Have them then go from low to high and back continuously on the script. Again have them go straight into a read and see what it yields. Wonders!

9. Find The Musicality In It

All words have a musical signature to it. If the voiceover can't find it, then how can you help them get there? Utilizing things like 7 and 8 above, along with pausing, volume and stress and emphasis. The copy then becomes like a musical score, where we have to decide the key sentence words that get stressed, where we pace it up a bit so we can pause and land on the finishing word(s) to bring the message home. It’s an invigorating puzzle to solve!

 10. Fun

So important, it has a whole paragraph devoted to it! If it’s not the most fun on a workday during the voiceover session then that can creep into the voiceover’s voice, if they let it. “Just have fun with it”, such a common phrase often thrown away. But how refreshing as a voiceover to know that even though I have 15, 000 words to narrate, I can explore, play, have fun, try things. Maybe they get it wrong. Communicating this to your artist will subconsciously give permission for them to feel relaxed and at ease. This creates a greater connection to you, the client and the words they are speaking.

Intend it, and you will create that sort of atmosphere. Artists are susceptible to energy, so if you are buzzing with enthusiasm for the project, the copy and how the end project will look, it will easily transfer to the voiceover, who will, in turn, make the project shine and make your client love the results.

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