Elearning Narration: All play and no work - Carrie Olsen Voiceover
Elearning Narration

Elearning Narration: All Play and No Work

"I got into voiceover work for the excitement and variety. To get away from uptight corporate culture. The last thing I want to do is spend all day reading boring corporate training courses."

If this sounds like you, I completely understand. This was my mindset back in 2014 when I made the switch from my corporate job to full time voice actor.

As a voice actor trying to escape the corporate rat race it makes sense that you'd be more interested in delivering exciting one-liners like, "let's go places" or belting out, "we have the meats!" 

Who doesn’t want to be a voice over rockstar, right?. But while most people who get into voice over work are attempting to head in that direction, let’s consider a different, possibly less fantasized direction. One that still pays really well, is just as fulfilling, and is more consistent.

All play and no work?

E-learning narration has a reputation for being boring, stiff and monotone.

But elearning narration isn't all work and no play.

In fact, I would argue that one of the most legitimate ways to get into character work is with e-learning narration!

Think I'm crazy?

See if you can guess which of the following roles were cast for an elearning project vs. a video game or animation project. 

  1. 1
    Voice of God for a "Game of Thrones" parody with castle and medieval imagery
  2. 2
    Guide to help players navigate a new land and collect tokens along the way
  3. 3
    Sketchy underemployed student who may or may not be stealing from her elderly neighbor
  4. 4
    Hard-nosed mid-level executive who spends all day swamped in complaints and just wants things to go well
  5. 5
    Worn out single mom who is tired of being taken advantage of and is finally ready to assert herself

So, which one was for an e-learning project and which ones were for the video game?

If you guessed that all 5 of these were for elearning courses, you're right!

E-learning voice over: The ultimate character acting niche?

E-learning isn't just about delivering info in the fastest way possible anymore. You can legitimately feed your creative/artistic appetite with e-learning narration.

Marketers found out a long time ago that telling stories sells better than just listing out facts. And course creators, educators, and elearning developers have caught on to this idea, too. They know that stories teach better than just reading out the facts.

This means there are more opportunities for character work in training courses!

Have you noticed this shift in the content you see from brands (and training scripts) you’ve been seeing?

Instead of your insurance company telling you the specifics of how their plan works, they may introduce a couple--Mark and Jan, let's say--who have dreams of retiring someday and living part-time on a houseboat. Then they show you the products that would be a good fit for them based on their priorities. And insurance commercials are increasingly entertaining, too, with plenty of character and personality. Not just because it makes the commercials more fun to watch, but you actually learn more when you’re engaged with the content.

E-learning narration as a pure form of voice acting

Looking for those beefy roles that you really get to sink into and “become” your character? Don’t underestimate your standard e-learning role! Remember that (as cheesy as this may sound at first) Mark and Jan, from the insurance commercial example above, are real people with real emotions, dreams, fears, and goals. The better you as a voice actor can step into their shoes and empathize with their situation the better your performances will be–and the more satisfying the experience will be for you as a creative.

Be the talent who actually wakes up the overworked employee who is taking their mandatory training on their lunch break, by offering an authentic, empathetic performance. Trust me, course developers take note when your read sounds engaged. They don’t like listening to and editing boring content any more than the end users like taking it.

When they have to listen to the same voices over and over again, who do you think they are going to choose to work with? Voice actor A who engages, puts in the work, and delivers a performance that comes across authentic and natural. Or voice actor B who sounds asleep at the mic and couldn’t care less about the script.

When you can take a script that would be considered boring by some, and find the story in it and make it exciting, it keeps things more interesting for you, more engaging for the learner, and more cost effective for the clients!

And it’s not just about a great performance, you are literally helping the end user and company solve problems and make important decisions for their life and family with the content you deliver. And I think that’s a really exciting and important role that you can play in other people's lives as a voice actor.

All this to say:

 E-learning narration isn't just about robotically reading technical facts anymore. I dare say it's fun and has the potential to greatly impact people's lives!

E-learning voice over narration can also be steady, high paying work

One of the best voice over jobs I’ve ever had was doing corporate training for Taco Bell. It paid really well. It was consistent. And probably the best part was I didn’t have to audition over and over again. I would just wake up to an email with a script, record it, send it back, and wait for another script. 

Skipping the constant auditioning made my life so much better. And because I wasn’t as worried about booking the audition I could focus on the work and deliver better reads.

And yes, I played a character named Mya who was a high-energy Taco Bell enthusiast who loved puns, talking fast, and volunteering for a good cause.

Time to give e-learning voice over narration another look

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Carrie Olsen

I'm a full-time professional voice actor and voiceover business coach. I have done work for Taco Bell, REI, BNSF Railway, Bank of America and ESPN to name a few. I dreamed up this community of voice actors to connect, grow, learn and get mentorship from each other. We're the most dedicated group of voice actors on the net, and we're here to help each other build and sustain profitable voiceover businesses.

Carrie Olsen Voiceover