Must-Haves In Voice Actors (2)

February 07, 2022 08:30 AM By Paul Boucher

Most voice actors working outside major markets often do so without the support of a talent agency. 
As a client, what that means to you is that your "solopreneur" voice actor is a one-person show in their business. You do not want a hobbyist at this point in the development process. The voice actor is often the last element selected or considered on many projects. Your turnaround requirements at this point are usually semi-urgent. Can they commit to your development timeline if they're a hobbyist or someone who does this part-time? 

The voice actor you select will handle all of the messaging back and forth, draft a proposal/contract/contract response if required, conclude terms (if they set them, and inquire about yours). Then, they'll record your material, edit the audio, deliver it at the file spec you require, follow up to make sure you received everything, handle revisions if needed (did they include a free revision recording session per script?). Finally, they'll invoice and deposit the payment if it's not handled automatically. Do they offer a payment method compatible with your company? Do they have an online payment option that includes the opportunity for direct bank transfer/deposit, credit card, check? 

This engagement is about the business as much as the performance. If you ignore that consideration, there will be trouble. Ensure your voice actor/business partner in the transaction can make the whole experience as delightful and friction-free as possible.

Finally – it's about the sound. People in the eLearning industry come from various backgrounds, many of them from technical or educational fields. What many are NOT, however, are audio professionals with the ability to discern (or create if they've added "narrator" to their ID job description) professional, broadcast-quality audio from …everything else on offer out there. Of course, we're not talking about audiophile quality recording here. Still, most learners will experience your content in one of the most intimate listening forums taken for granted in this era: headphones. They'll often be noise-canceling headphones that allow the listener to exclude external environments and focus on what they hear on the sound stage.

The audio stage is where the learner will experience all the hard work you put in. You and the visual artists, virtual experience designers, and of course, the client SMEs. That stage needs to be uncluttered and clear. The last thing you need is the sound of a plane overhead, a lawnmower next door, a furnace coming on, or a toilet flushing, never mind kids or dogs. Your eLearning isn't a pandemic Zoom meeting. It's a learning session. 

The sound also needs to be consistent and replicable.

Your voice artist should be able to seamlessly replace pieces of training modules so it all sounds like it was recorded contiguously, even if done years apart. Is their studio setup stable? Are they using the same gear as when they recorded the original program? Have they kept that older gear or a process in place to accurately replicate the environment of your learning content they contributed to in the first place? Do they even know how to do that? A surprising number of times, when you ask that question, the answer will be no. Or worse, it will be a deflection similar to "How much can sounding the same matter? It's just a sentence or two in a 10-20-30-minute course."

That lack of attention to detail in the crucial part of their craft, their actual service/product to you is likely to be present in other parts of your dealings with them.

Experienced, professional voice actors will be able to point you to clients who could support their credibility. That's not simply a list of pretty logos on a web page. If you're embarking on a 10-20 module course for an international enterprise, shouldn't you want to vet this voice actor with someone else who's been in your position, counting on them to come through? Yes. Yes, you should.

All of the above represents a portion of what you need to establish, or what your voice actor needs to establish within a few short exchanges or in the opening minutes of a conversation about any potential project.

There’s more of course, things that might be important to you that aren’t broached here. It would be a privilege to discuss them with you. Feel free to reach out any time!
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