Tips for Working with E-Learning Voice-Over Talent

Working with professional voice-over talent can help your courses be more polished and professional, but this comes at an expense. Over the years, I’ve discovered several tips for working with voice-over talent to help make the process easier and more efficient, which can help keep your costs down.

Here are my top three tips for working with voice-over talent.

1. Provide file type, naming, and editing preferences.

While it’s easy to assume your voice-over talent will record, edit, and name the files in a logical manner, it’s really your job to provide this guidance. Remember, your voice-over talent likely works with many different clients with many different expectations. Providing specifics regarding file types, naming conventions, and editing preferences will save you a few extra emails and/or phone calls.

The next time you work with voice-over talent, remember to…

  • Indicate the preferred file type. MP3 and WAV are both popular audio file types that work with the four major e-learning authoring tools. If you’re not sure which audio file type to use, check out this article, which describes the differences among the major types.
  • Indicate your naming preferences for each audio file. I suggest naming your audio files according to the slide for which each one is associated. For example, audio file 1-2.MP3 goes with slide 1.2, and 1-3.MP3 goes with slide 1.3. You may also want to include a simple keyword in the name of the audio file to make easier to identify.
  • Finally, indicate your editing preferences. For example, I like to have an extra second of silence at the beginning and end of each audio file.

2. Be specific about what needs to be recorded.

E-learning storyboards usually contain a lot of information. Not only do they indicate the audio narration, storyboards also include information regarding on-screen graphics, programming notes, and interaction specifications. While you might be able to decipher all this information, it’s good to remember that your voice-over talent is not an e-learning developer.

The next time you work with voice-over talent, remember to specify exactly what needs to be recorded. There’s no need to send the entire storyboard. I usually create a separate document that includes only the audio narration, file type, file naming, and editing information, specifically for my voice-over talent. This document leaves little question about what I need for each recorded audio file.

3. Provide pronunciation guidance for special terms and acronyms.

When developing any type of training or communication for your organization or client, you’re likely to use special or proprietary terms and acronyms. Although these terms may roll off your tongue without much effort, you can’t expect your voice-over talent to do the same.

The next time you work with voice-over talent, remember to provide pronunciation guidance for special terms, acronyms and names. For simple terms, provide the phonetic spelling as a comment in the document. For more complicated terms, it might be helpful to quickly record yourself saying the term and provide that recording to your voice-over talent to reference.

As for acronyms, pronunciation guidance can be just as important. For example, read the following excerpt from an e-learning course regarding a “Remote Operations Center:”

“The ROC has been created to support the organization with dedicated security surveillance from a remote location.”

How should the voice over talent pronounce the acronym: “R.O.C.?” Should they pronounce it as it is spelled and say “The R-O-C?” Should they say “The ROC,” like rock? Or, should they pronounce the full phrase and say “The Remote Operations Center?”

Providing guidance about these special terms and acronyms can help save time and money. If your voice-over talent can record it the right way the first time, you won’t need him or her to go back and record it again.

These are just some of the tips I’ve found to be effective when working with voice-over talent. Using these tips, your project development will move quicker and your voice-over talent will be more efficient, accurate, and happy.

What tips can you share that you’ve learned about working with voice-over talent? If you’re a voice-over artist, what can e-learning developers do to make your life easier? Share your thoughts and tips by commenting below.

Tim Slade

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