Voice Over Best Practices You Need To Know
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2020: A Game Changer Year

eLearning content is known to compete with “home” distractions like house chores, errands, and family obligations [1]. For this reason, key features like enjoyment and comprehension are significantly important for eLearning providers. The native language is crucial when it comes to proper understanding and comprehension.

The Right Voice Over: The Secret For Engagement

Harvard Business Review supports that even though using a lingua franca can dramatically improve how employees collaborate across borders, it is also vital that its use is balanced with the use of the local language and culture [2]. Misinterpretations usually happen in a non-native language and lead to lower productivity, lost revenue and, more seriously, injury and loss of life [3]. Acting irrespectively of the learning audience and its context can be costly. Why?

  • Training in the native language makes workplaces safer.
  • Comprehensive training programs lead to 218% higher revenue per employee, as it results in employee productivity.
  • Adopting a language that workers can fully understand minimizes costly employee turnovers.

In most global English organizations, all communication, documentation, and training are in English. However, trainings for non-native English speakers take longer than those for native English-speakers because the trainees tend to go back and forth through content to ensure comprehension. This results in additional costs as additional trainings are usually required.

“98% of research respondents said onboarding programs are key to keeping employees.”
– Korn Ferry Survey

Offering training in the audience’s mother tongue boosts productivity, innovative thought, and ensures high retention rates. Using the right voice over to localize training and onboarding scripts will bring your employees to a sufficient level of comfort, for them to feel an appreciated and active part of the organization. This will make them contribute a lot more to the working environment.

As a result, having a human, native narrator that speaks the learner’s mother tongue:

  • Engages learners much more
  • Cultivates comprehension
  • Brings employees to a sufficient level of comfort
  • Makes employees feel like an appreciated and active part of the organization
  • Results in employees contributing a lot more to the work environment

5 Voice Over Best Practices

“Preparation is 80% of a successful and hassle-free voiceover.”
– Frederik, key account manager at Voicearchive

1. Get Your Script Voice Over Ready

Long eLearning voice over projects can be characterized by complexity. The main goal here is to make sure you have included all the necessary information for the voice actor and audio editor to successfully execute the project. If this pre-production stage is done well, you will avoid any unnecessary re-takes. We usually ask the following questions to our clients prior to any project:

  • How many languages does your eLearning production need?
  • Have you made sure the copywriting of your script matches the spoken language? Over-the-top corporate language is nobody’s cup of tea.
  • Has your script already been translated? If so, have you ensured the translation matches this casual and spoken tone?
  • Is your script time coded? In other words, will the animation follow the recording or does the voice over need to match the animation?
  • Should the narrator read headlines as well?
  • Have you highlighted any words you would like emphasized?
  • Have you decided how terminology/special words are going to be pronounced?
  • Will the recording be split in post-production? That would be the case if you needed shorter audio files to fit different slides or animation bits.
  • What name should be given to the audio folders?

Project managers tend to face the temptation of waiting for the full script to be ready instead of fine-tuning their request by working on a sample first. Yet, a sample has too many benefits to cave in to such temptation. We encourage our customers to start with a simple brief first. This saves precious time and resources, especially for longer eLearning modules.

It’s also in this stage that we consider intonation and character acting. Your eLearning module might need different characters to convey different messages, for example, a doctor and a regular citizen. By clarifying your briefing and working with samples first, you can request character acting for your eLearning bit.

Having in mind your audience is a must prior to the delivery of the script. Microcontent can be easier to voice. Providing a 60-minute module might not be the best for topics in the technical fields and, if you still choose to push a longer module forward, the voice you choose needs to fully engage your audience.

Last but not least, there’s an additional important question: If your eLearning module is in English (and only if, since we’ve already covered why localizing your content is beneficial), is it meant for non-native English audiences?

2. Don’t Settle For Less Than An Assigned Project Manager

A specialized and dedicated project manager can help you identify and describe all the details of your production. Having an in-house employee navigate through a huge pile of voice portfolios and work samples is extremely time-consuming and can disrupt smooth operations. In addition, it can be challenging for a company to find full-time employees that already have the knowledge and experience needed for this task. An external project manager will move this huge load of work out of your company’s desks.

For all our eLearning projects, project managers are always a requested pre-requirement as they:

  • Provide professional advice and expertise
  • Guide you in order to have your script “voice over ready”
  • Overview voices and production
  • Ensure smooth operations
  • Facilitate internal communication
  • Reduce execution time
  • Save energy and costly resources

3. Hire Skilled, Human Voice Actors

When it comes to selecting the right voice for your project, we have found that one should always go for clarity over uniqueness when casting for eLearning. Moreover, regarding eLearning projects, our advice is to always go for a human voice instead of a computer-generated one. An actor with good stamina and a clear, natural flow makes the experience more relaxing, and easy to follow. This results in higher levels of engagement comparing to a tiring and disengaging computer voiced over eLearning course.

In addition, a real voice actor can represent the content of your course and also consider the cultural backgrounds of your target audience. For example, it makes a difference whether you are addressing a newly hired employee in Japan or Denmark. Speaking accordingly can make or break your eLearning course.

As a result, real human voices have a significant advantage when it comes to engagement, comprehension, and knowledge acquisition.

What do our eLearning customers request of voice talent?

  • Flow
  • Stamina
  • Pronunciation
  • Intonation
  • Ability to adjust speed
  • Stress the right point

We know that it’s tiresome for a company to get through all the demos and work samples of numerous voice actors, let alone doing that in many different languages. Helping clients create their specialized talent pool is something to ensure the availability of competent, professional voice actors that can deliver high-quality eLearning recordings. We suggest you follow the same strategy.

4. Avoid “Awkward Silences, ” Adjust Different Language Lengths To The Video

eLearning projects are complex, the scripts are usually long and the most common difficulty that our clients faced in the past is how to adjust the translated version of the script to the video.

This difficulty arises if you required a time-coded script translated into different languages. There are languages that are “longer” than others. For example, the English version of the audio will likely be 20% shorter than the German one, so it would have to be adjusted to the video accordingly. This is a detailed and time-consuming stage that requires expertise and audio editing skills, so having a professional studio or agency manage the voice overs can save you from a lot of trouble.

5. Headphones Or No Headphones? Ensure Audio Quality Across Devices

Offering employees a variety of ways to log on to the offered training is of vital importance. One should not forget that when working from home, working parents might have to share electronic devices and gadgets with family or even with neighbors. This means that learners might use their phones instead of computers/laptops for corporate trainings and seminars.

Did you know the audio mixing won’t be the same if the recording is meant to be listened to with headphones or straight from the laptop? Sound engineers do. The reason for a different mixing is that white noise must be carefully cleaned in recordings meant to be listened to with headphones. The quality of your eLearning audio sound should be of the same quality across all devices. Having your voice overs done professionally, from the recording to the post-production, will ensure that everything goes as planned and the training will be executed without any unpleasant surprises on all devices.

References:

[1] 4 Must-Have LMS Features To Keep Remote Employees Engaged And Tips To Minimize Costly Turnover

[2] What’s Your Language Strategy?

[3] Mother tongue increases employee training effectiveness

Additional Resources:

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