Why To Use Professional Voice Actors In eLearning

Why To Use Professional Voice Actors In eLearning
Summary: A great untapped resource for eLearning development is the use of professional voice actors to narrate projects. This article explores the benefits of using such talent, and suggests ways to find voice actors to fit your project.

"TALKING" Your eLearning To The Next Level

Here’s what we heard at a recent eLearning Guild convention:

Hire a voice actor? Oh no, Joe in Sales does that for us.

Really? Every one of your eLearning courses sounds like Joe? Would your production benefit from some variety in voices? Every voice appeals to somebody…but also doesn’t appeal to some others.

Maybe Joe narrates your eLearning just as one of his many “other duties as assigned”? Maybe Joe is pretty stretched? Is the narration the last thing you think about, something you think Joe can just “whip out”?

No offense to Joe, but if Joe isn’t a trained voice actor, are you sure the audio part of your course is on target?

In a recent article in eLearning Industry, “7 Top Tips For Effective eLearning Voice Overs,” we see just how little is understood about voice work. First, in the article’s photo—the woman is speaking into the wrong end of the microphone, gripping the mic, and doing something to her headphones that all adds up to very poor technique.

The article tries to help you avoid rookie mistakes, and turn your sow’s ear into an imitation silk purse. But really, issues like recording in a noisy environment, with low-budget equipment, and failing to read the script in a manner that befits the copy don’t happen with professional voice actors.

The Voice is a key component of an eLearning Course

Successful eLearning requires a lot of moving parts to synchronize, to grab and hold a learner’s attention, and achieve real learning. Bad writing can sink the effort, just as glitchy graphics, an app that’s too hard to use, and yes, THE VOICE can make or break a project.

Why spend your money on great software and work hard on the script and layout, only to have the presentation sound amateurish? Indeed, it’s helpful to think about your audience as well. Do you really want your listeners suffering through multiple hours of a poor performance delivered in poor quality audio?

Use Professional Voice Actors In eLearning

So, while we’re sure Joe in Sales is doing his best, consider the benefits of hiring a professional:

  1. Experience
    A professional voice talent offers many years of experience with all different types of copy.
  2. Industry Knowledge
    Understands how the components of a voice-over project and what is expected of the voice talent, including sensitivity to the needs of all the players in the process.
  3. Professional Studio
    Works from a professional studio and delivers high-quality audio.
  4. Trained Actor
    Understands how to deliver a performance in front of a microphone (as opposed to on stage or in front of a camera), and is able to interpret your script for its intended audience and the medium in which it will be heard.
  5. Trained Editor
    Voice talent, in general, are also able to edit the audio they record, ensuring professional quality recordings of your script, delivered in the format that you need.
  6. Readily Available
    Quickly turn around your projects and readily accommodate your schedule. Remember, Joe has a lot on his plate; your voice actor is focused on your voice-over needs.
  7. Commitment
    A professional stays abreast of trends in the industry, from varying styles of vocal performance, to the latest technologies for recording with clients around the globe.
  8. Valuing Your Brand
    The most important thing to consider is the impact that a professional production will have on your brand identity. When you invest in your business, it’s for the benefit of your company— signaling to your employees and other consumers of your eLearning course that you value quality.

Finding the Right Voice Actor

So, okay, you want to look into hiring a professional voice. Where do you post an audition notice so you can choose just the right sound? Well, one of the problems both for voice actors and for eLearning developers is finding each other! There’s no central marketplace.

There are some possibilities:

  • Meet voice actors who come to eLearning Guild conferences. Collect their business cards.
  • Go online: www.voiceover.biz is one great place to start, and there are many others.

Voiceover.biz is being set up by voice-over industry’s trade association, the World-Voices Organization. Here you’ll find vetted, credentialed talent for eLearning.


Of course, hiring a voice actor does come with a cost, much like hiring any professional to contribute to your project. From the eight benefits listed above, you can get a sense of how much effort and expense a professional voice actor puts into his or her career, and fees are commensurate with that.

The key thing is: find the voice you need, then negotiate a price you can afford. You can expect prices will vary with length, complexity of the material, union membership, and the voice talent's experience.

So, thanks for your work Joe in Sales, but it’s time to take the next step to elevate your eLearning efforts to their full potential by using a professional voice talent.


Other sites where you can find voice talent: