Women in a white room being interviewed or casted for a project

Choosing the right voice for your elearning modules can be a daunting task. Since educational videos are usually long form and contain content that can be a bit more dry, the voice you choose will really help to get information to your audience in an approachable and engaging way. The method you use for elearning voice over casting can help you find a voice that connects with your audience.

The right voice can also create a lasting connecting with your elearners and help them to better retain the information you are sharing with them, so it is important to spend some time on finding the best voice for your elearning videos.

Tom Kuhlmann, a seasoned elearning industry pro and writer of The Rapid Elearning Blog shares five helpful tips that can help you cast the perfect voice actor for your materials.

1. Think of the personality and brand of your elearning course

You may feel that the visual aesthetics of your course are most important, so you may start out with that aspect of designing your elearning course. Tom Kulhmann  of the Rapid elearning Blog, says that in fact, this is the key time to also start thinking about the voice you want to use.

“At the beginning of the design process, the developer is determining the right look and feel of the course. They pick fonts, colors, imagery – essentially they are establishing the course personality. This is a good time to establish the voice personality,” he says.

The voice personality can help improve learner retention in the long run.

“People ascribe personality to their interactions with the computer. A voice can add value to that interaction,” says Tom. This is even more true if your elearning courses feature a character or avatar. Having the right voice attached to that avatar adds an element of personality.

You can also make a list of the words you think best describe your brand when you are selecting a voice over. These words can later be included in your voice over job posting as artistic direction to help guide auditioning voice actors. For example: if you are a financial company you may want to create a sense of security and trust in your elearning courses. If you are an educator for children on the other hand, you will want to be more friendly and energetic. It is important to establish the feeling you are going for from the beginning before you listen to auditions or even submit a casting call. Be sure to be very specific in the feeling you are trying to create with your material and in the sound and type of voice you are looking for.

2. Match the voice to the audience when casting an elearning voice over

There are several things to consider when you are trying to match a voice to your target audience. You may want to think about whether you should use a female or male voice.

Even though traditionally, voice over work tends to be a more male-dominated industry, research indicates the future of voice over casting is female. The gender of the voice you select should be influenced by the gender of the learners who will be engaging with your elearning platform. If the audience is made up of mostly males, then you will want to consider using a male voice. This is because generally, learners want to learn potentially complex information from someone who sounds like a peer.

After you’ve decided on whether the voice will be male or female, the next thing on your list is to decide the age of the voice actor. Now, an important distinction should be made here. Voice actors normally list the age that they sound, as opposed to the age they actually are. A voice actor may be middle-aged but can sound like a child with the right direction, so making this distinction early on is key.

3. Consider Vocal Characteristics When Casting for an Elearning Voice Over

Since elearning content tends to be more informative and long form, than say a commercial or ad, you want to ensure that the voice over artist you have in mind will fit your content. An announcer type of voice may not be one that your elearners will be able to engage with for long periods of time.  

“Generally, we want a voice that sounds informed. However, having a warmer tone with more personality stands out … We often hear that people don’t like a ‘marketing voice’ as it tends to sound fake. Learners often prefer the imperfections in a voice … In that sense, a good voice actor who comes across as authentic is better,” suggests Tom.

You should also think about where your elearning content will be distributed. If you are appealing to an international audience then you will probably want to select an English speaking voice with a UK accent or a North American accent. If your elearning material is for a specific geographic audience, then you may want to pick a voice that has a regionally specific accent. Again, this reinforces the idea that learners like to learn from a voice they can easily recognize and feel a sense of familiarity with when listening.

The right sounding voice also involves making sure that the tone and the pitch of the voice is suitable for your audience. Lower pitched voices have been found to be perceived as more credible and trustworthy, while higher pitched voices can seem more attractive.

When you are listening to voices that may be suitable for your educational videos be sure to listen closely to the demos of those voice actors. You want to listen for a voice actor’s ability to be able to modulate their voice while still being able to enunciate the words clearly. The ability to modulate will help to keep the attention span of your learners and create a more engaging learning experience.

4. Test it out with your target audience

If the elearning videos you are creating will be for children ages four to six, you should aim to get a group of children within this age range to view your content and engage with it early on in the process. Noting their responses can help you decide if the voice is working for your target group. If your platform is going to reach only a small audience, testing with just a few people will suffice. It is important to get this feedback early on, so that you can make any adjustments to your materials as needed.  

Related: Learn how Luminosity uses emotional design principles to increase user engagement with their brain training games.

5. Think about long-term goals of your LMS materials

Consider the fact that the voice you choose will be connected with your brand going forward. Learners will form an attachment with the sound of the actor’s voice. If you intend to use the same voice actor going forward for other elearning platforms, be sure to verify that the actor will be available for the long haul.

While using one of your employees with a good voice to read the material for your course may seem like a more cost effective solution, if you have the budget, a professional voice actor is the way to go.

A professional voice actor can bring more to your elearning materials than just “a good sounding voice,” says Tom. “You want a voice actor who can sound like the subject matter expert and not just a person with a good voice reading a script.”

Choosing the right voice over artist can have a large impact on the effectiveness of your learning platforms. The voice you choose has to be one that is relatable to your intended audience and can give your content life and longevity. The right voice can create a lasting impression with your learners, while the wrong voice can alienate your learners. Take time in finding the perfect voice for your elearning platforms.

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