Narration By The Pound

September 06, 2022 08:30 AM By Paul Boucher

Last time I addressed time and narration in the context of eLearning, it was to counter one of the most ridiculous practices in the industry: per-word pricing.

It got me thinking about time and eLearning in another way.


eLearning projects vary across the spectrum from a time requirement, from a few minutes of almost “explainer-video” style content, to tens of hours of training for various companies with complex education and training needs.


Whether it’s driven by the retail marketing technique of getting MORE FOR LESS, or other factors, why does more time equal fewer dollars in many cases? For example, if there’s a 12-16 hour project, the ideal scenario is that the professional voice actor selected should be JUST as engaged at hour 16 as they were at hour one.


In many businesses, when a prospective client offers that size of contract, there is often a “price consideration” expected for volume. That’s an expectation of a “discount” if you’re following along at home.


Let’s just deal with the logic of this. “…We’d like your full engagement for the full 16 hours, over multiple days, and multiple audio sessions, and expect perfect consistency from one session to the next, which we know involves both technical and performance craft, but we’d like to pay you progressively less as the project goes on, so that by the end, you’re essentially working at a 20-50% discount. How does that sound?”


A negotiation is just that, and education is as much a part of it as anything else. A lot of potential eLearning clients, with no professional narration experience never give a second thought to the enormous amount of experience, craft and technical skill involved in accomplishing a long project over multiple days, weeks or months. Just the continuity required in being the SAME PERSON for each of those 16 hours is remarkable. So, really, there’s an argument for paying a voice actor MORE as a project extends into multiple hours of finished narration, not less.


Among other things, both voice actors and eLearning clients should expect a negotiation on that length of project to include written requests for a guarantee on the amount of finished work, or failing that, perhaps offering/being offered a tiered rate structure that offers a progressive discount as the work materializes, with agreed upon thresholds at which discounts take effect.


Of course, then there’s just the possibility that an actor will quote based on the simple objective metric of the amount of narration provided, and the client will concur.

Thanks for reading. Respectful discussion is always welcome.