Voice Over Education Blog

July 2014

How Many Types of eLearning Are There?

One of the first things to learn about elearning (aka “eLearning” or “e-learning”) is that there is no such thing. Or rather, there’s no one such thing as “elearning.”

People apply the term to all sorts of video and audio recordings (any electronic media) where
education or training, or even selling, is involved. So when you say you specialize in “eLearning,” it’s a bit like saying you do “voice over” -- first you need to be sure the person you’re talking to knows what it is … then you need to say what kind. Which means you should know the same!

This understanding will influence how and where you prospect for job leads.

Again, it’s similar to saying you do voice-overs: That’s not the most effective opener with the average prospective client (who may or may not have hired VO talent before). A better introduction is along the lines of, “I help you communicate more effectively.” By understanding the various elearning types, audiences and objectives, you’ll be better able to speak convincingly about the benefits of your VO services.

First, be aware that eLearning spans a wide variety of subjects. In fact, it could involve any subject. For example:

    To Documentaries, Bring Truth

    “The events shown in this program depict authenticated facts.”

    “Everything in this story is true. Only the names and locations are changed.”

    “Scenes have been re-created by actors, based on the actual events.”

    “Bunnies are cute.”

    Truth is powerful, and seldom needs much elaboration. Lies are more typically embellished.

    The documentary industry has long struggled to define what actually constitutes truth in showing a non-fiction story. Meanwhile as a documentary narrator, you have your own truth-handling issues. Whether a documentary is objective or pushing an agenda, above all, it needs to be credible. The quality of its narration plays an important role in that perception. Your narration should generate trust. Often, the less obtrusive your performance, the more truthful it will seem to the viewer.

    Here’s a Truth in Documentaries pledge to consider as you work in this genre.

    I will be genuine. Love to over-act? Maybe animation is the genre for you. Like flamboyance and improvisation? Consider certain types of commercials. Want to be the focus of storytelling? Audiobooks. But in a documentary, stick to the script, understand what you’re saying, and trust in the subtle power of thoughtful understatement. Know what’s in the script, and simply tell what you know. Most documentary producers will love you for it.

    I will let the visuals do the shouting. Pictures are powerful. Unlike some other genres, there’s seldom any need to artificially pump things up with false emotion, aka over-acting. In fact, documentary producers and propagandists have long known that the perceived truth often is found between the words.

    Got your demo?

    Tell someone in the entertainment or production business that you’re a voice artist, and the next words you’ll hear are, “Got your demo?” Among knowledgeable people in a position to hire you, it happens close to 100% of the time.

    This scenario used to be sort of frustrating for talent. After all, few voice artists could carry a tape, cassette or CD everywhere they went, let alone afford to hand them out like Halloween candy.

    How lucky we are nowadays. You can simply give someone your business card, which should have a simple URL for reaching your demo(s) online.

    That’s if you have a demo. If you don’t, the request for one can feel more frustrating than ever. But fight the urge to produce a demo before you’re ready.

    Buck up, suck it up and stick to your plan to record a professional grade demo. Instead of hearing demo requests as a frustration, hear them as an opportunity to aim for. Now.

    The window of opportunity is a fairly narrow one, because when you are ready to produce your demo, that’s the time to do it. Releasing a not-ready-for-prime-time demo can kill a budding career, but not producing it when you are ready is obviously also not career enhancing.

    Industrial and Corporate Videos - Part Two: How to make yourself more interesting.

    NOTE: This is the second post in a two-part article. To read part one, click here.

    Last week, we began listing some tips for voicing corporate and industrial videos. Most of them were functional. This week’s tip is a bit more subtle, but just as important:

    Don’t bore the viewer!

    Use emotion.

    Why is that so important in Industrial and Corporate? This genre is a challenging mix of documentary narration on the one hand, and e-learning or commercials on the other. That is, a person might assume that the viewer has chosen to watch a TV program about sea turtles, and in a sea turtle documentary the video provides drama. So the narrator should be relatively subdued and refrain from over-acting. In contrast, who knows if a student wants to watch an e-learning video about economics? Hopefully the e-learning program has been well designed to capture the student’s interest, and its narrator can work with that. And at the low-interest extreme, there are most commercials -- we all know how disinterested people are in most of them. So sometimes in a commercial you’re even supposed to go over the top!

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