Including a voiceover in your e-learning course adds value to the product you offer and can be a tool to attract more customers and increase your profit. Adding a voice to the online learning process makes it more personal and helps users master new knowledge faster. Another benefit of a professionally done voiceover is that it will boost the learners engagement.
There are basically two ways of adding voice to your e-learning course: the instructor who has created it can record the audio themselves or you can hire a professional voiceover artist. No matter which you choose to do, there are several steps to follow and a bundle of tips that you can implement to do it right. Today we will focus on the main steps of a DIY e-learning voiceover and add a few clever tricks that will make the process run smoothly.
5 Steps of a DIY E-Learning Voiceover
We have tried to summarize the overall process of doing a voiceover for an e-learning course into 5 main steps that will help you plan your time.
1. Choose the Right Equipment
Before starting with the voiceover of your e-learning course you should have the right equipment for your recording:
- Microphone – The best options for a voiceover are condenser or dynamic microphones. Also consider how you place the mic in order to get the best recording;
- Audio Converter and Software – A device where you can plug your microphone into that will interface with your computer. You also need an audio converter and special software for the recording. There are versatile digital audio workstations on the market so you will need to do some research and choose the one that fits you best;
- Location – the most appropriate place for a voiceover is a recording studio, which is sound proof. If that is not possible, choose a room in the house and try to isolate it as best as you can. A walk-in closet can serve very well for recording since clothes absorb background noise quite well.
2. Map your Script
You need to have a well-written script free of mistakes for a smooth recording. Make sure to use a font that is big and easy to read. Clipping your script to a stand makes it easier to read. It is a good idea to map your voiceover, i.e. you can use lines to divide the sentence into segments where it is appropriate to make a pause or bold words that you need to emphasize. You should also choose the style and tone of your speech to best match the content you are presenting. Turn your script into a roadmap that will lead you to the perfect voiceover. Don’t overdecorate it since this may actually confuse you when you start recording.
3. Do a Soundcheck and a Test Round
Always do a soundcheck before the actual recording. You need to adjust your mic input level for a good result. It is also advisable to do a test round first. Record a piece of the material, then listen to it to see if there is anything that you need to change for your actual recording.
4. Actual Recording
During the actual recording it is important to stick to the style and voice character that you have planned for. A few tips to ease this process are:
- Keep Yourself Hydrated – This will help you sound natural. Stick to water at room temperature and avoid cold or fizzy drinks, milk and coffee are also not recommended;
- Use Headphones – You will be able to hear your voice and make corrections. If, however, you feel awkward or uncomfortable wearing them simply don’t;
- Have an Assistant to Control Technical Parts – This will allow you to focus on the vocal delivery.
5. Post Edit your Audio
In some cases this step may turn out to be the most time consuming of all, especially if you have little to no experience with the techniques and technologies of audio editing. Choose the right software to normalize your audio and get rid of all the white noise. Remember that you will have to cut your audio bits, no matter if you have recorded one long or several shorter clips. No one wants the learning session to start with five seconds of silence or with a deep breath. If you have time limits you can shorten the audio clip by cutting out unnecessary pauses or breathing. Most audio editing software has the function to save bits of the audio file as separate files. Look for “Save Selected Region” or “Save Selection As” options. This is quite helpful especially when editing a longer clip. There are many audio editing programs on the market and several free ones as well. Adobe Audition is one of option and comes with the Adobe Creative Cloud membership. Audacity is a commonly used free tool.
Once you have completed all five steps you have to add your voiceover to your e-learning course and then you are ready to offer it to your customers. But before that, check below for a few clever tricks that will make the recording process much easier.
Tricks to Improve your Voiceover
There are many tutorials and articles around the web on how to record the best voiceovers that are worth reading and watching. We have come across a nice short YouTube presentation by Andy Bower called “Voice Overs for eLearning. The VERY Basics,” which really includes some clever tricks that we would like to share with you. Applying them will make your e-learning course sound much better whether you are using a professional artist or doing the voiceover yourself.
- Know your Material
To effectively narrate your presentation, you should know your material. It is not your job to know every single detail in the subject matter you are teaching but it is your job to sound like you do. It is absolutely unacceptable to mispronounce words, especially terms. Pre-read to identify words you are not familiar with, check how to pronounce them – the Merriam-Webster Dictionary allows you to listen to a word. The text may contain some industry-specific terms or abbreviations that you might need to have clarified before you start recording. Make sure that you know what you are talking about and you will sound credible to the learners as well.
- Identify your Audience
It is very important to know who your audience is. Is the e-learning course meant for foreign students, young adults, or kids or is it part of the in-house company training for new employees? It makes a difference whether you are addressing a seasoned engineer who is doing an online course for further qualification or a newly hired employee who is getting to know the company. You will feel more comfortable doing the voiceover knowing who you are talking to.
- Choose the Appropriate Style
Once you are familiar with the content of the text and the target audience, you have to choose the appropriate style of the voiceover. Do you need to sound laid back and conversational or instructional and formal? This depends exactly on the topic, the learners, and on the way the script is written. Don’t force a formal topic into a conversational tone and vice versa. In regards to doing e-learning voiceover we can say that formal, cultured, professional delivery is what people expect to hear in an e-learning course. If any module needs to be presented in a more relaxed manner there is a trick that you can use to make you sound more conversational. If you pretend that you are talking over the phone with a friend before starting the voiceover your brain will have tuned into this style and it will be easier for you to follow it throughout the recording. It is easier to sound conversational if you are reading something that you have written yourself.
Smile and you will sound more approachable. It was proven that people can recognize over the phone if someone is smiling while talking or not. The same goes for a voiceover. You will also feel more relaxed and confident in your job while smiling, which will make the end result better.
Follow these e-learning voiceover steps and tips next time you are recording your course to enhance its quality and provide your learners with a sophisticated final product.
- How to Record Voice Overs for eLearning, by eLearning Brothers
- Voice Overs for eLearning. The VERY Basics, by Andy Bower