E-learning has really come of age, thanks for the most part to the march of technology. Voice overs for e-learning modules are being integrated more and more as e-learning professionals understand how they help the learning process.

Fast Internet connections and virtually unlimited storage capacity have now made it possible to create whole libraries of e-learning material and deliver them efficiently to students.

Growth has been impressive. Revenue for global corporate e-learning is expected to reach around $31 billion by 2020, and training for individuals is also a big growth area.

For example, online education company Lynda.com started out in 1995 as a small provider of video courses in software, creative, and business skills.

But by 2013 its revenue had reached $100 million and in 2015 it was bought by LinkedIn Corporation for $1.5 billion.

E-learning is now often used in organizations both as a supplement, and sometimes as an alternative to conventional teaching methods.

It allows them to quickly get staff up to speed with information about their products and services, internal culture, or anything else that they need to know.

There is a lot of information new staff needs to absorb when they begin with an organization, and also as they continue on their professional development journey, and the beauty of video or presentation-based training is that it is convenient, portable, and cost-effective.

Unlike an in-person training session, e-learning can be viewed and reviewed until the information has been fully internalized.


Different Approaches for E-learning Narration

Educational psychologists are constantly theorising, testing, and refining approaches to learning, but currently, narration for e-learning material usually sounds like one of these four examples:

  1. Elaboration – the voice gives additional information to the on-screen text.
  2. Paraphrasing – the voice summarizes the text.
  3. Verbatim – the voice reads all the words seen on screen.
  4. Descriptive – the voice describes the images seen on the screen.

No one approach is better or worse than another, but some will be more or less useful depending on the material being covered.

For instance, long passages on company policy might be better summarized, while short important phrases can be repeated verbatim.

Whatever is displayed on screen, learning is best helped when the narration is happening at the same time.

Research has showed that learners do better at retaining the information when this happens.

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The Voice

Humans may have evolved to learn from the spoken word, but even early cave dwellers would have switched off if the medicine-man had a voice that put them to sleep.

It can be hard enough to retain learners’ attention during a Health and Safety presentation, so it is worth auditioning voices to find one that you think your learners will find engaging.

That voice needs to be able to maintain a consistent style and rhythm, sometimes over several hours, and it should not grate on the ear.


The Script

To write the script, make sure that you have a clear understanding of what your project is trying to achieve!

Decide on your overall learning objective for the session and break that down into sections.

You can then estimate how long each one will take given that narrators read at around 100 to 150 words per minute.

The script should sound natural and conversational. It should use the kind of language learners might use, so don’t be afraid to break a few grammar rules if that makes it sound more accessible to them.

It should use the 4 styles mentioned above as necessary to walk learners through the goals that you map out. We published a comprehensive article on this.

The voice should be in the present tense and active. You can see the difference between active and passive here:

Passive voice: “More details are available on our website.”
Active voice: “You can find more details on our website.”

A good rule here is to always put the person and the action at the start of your sentences.



You can test the script by reading sections out as you write them.

This is a good way to help you understand if you are writing for the page or the ear.

The two can look the same, but sound very different when it comes to the actual voicing.
This approach will also help to show you if the voice is working in partnership with the visual elements that learners see on-screen.

Ask yourself as you go whether points are being made clearly, if there is information overload, if it is creative enough, and if the pacing is right.

This can be quite a daunting challenge, but getting it right now will mean that recording the voice-over session and designing the visuals is a straightforward process for the voice artist and designers.

Watch E-learning video voice over samples

Castilian Spanish voice over for ShoreTel (Now Mitel) e-learnin modules

Over the course of two years, we have localized e-learning modules for ShoreTel University in Spanish, French, German and Mandarin Chinese.

Here’s an example of a voice recording performed by Roberto C. for one module describing how to download and log in.

American English voice over for SalesForce's CRM - E-learning module

This video includes a Salesforce demo demonstrating a call-center’s agent’s interaction with a customer.
The on-screen actions taken by the agent as well as his handling of the customer’s disputed transaction are part of an e-learning module designed to train new agents.

Voice over recorded by Derek S. and Charlotte A.

French Voice Over for Pega Academy

Voice Crafters has localized over 5 hours of e-learning presentations for Pega Academy from English to French.

Voice recordings were performed by Jan W.

Jan is a professional voice artist who is bilingual by birth and records in both French and German.

Visit Jan’s voice over profile here.


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