A great question came up while I was coaching an eLearning voiceover workshop yesterday: Should your narrator read the script before recording?
My answer? It depends.
This fall, I recorded the “Quick Guide” of fourteen videos for the Options Industry Council. Despite having recorded almost 4,000 eLearning modules over the past dozen and a half years, stock options was material outside my scope of reference. Give me a medical, law or compliance script and I can read it cold with aplomb.
Wading into the world of the Protective Put, the Short Strangle and the Long Straddle was fascinating, but to narrate it well, I needed to not only read the material beforehand, but had to read each script multiple times before feeling comfortable enough to read through it confidently, let alone “teach” or “talk” it like I was passing on the info to someone else.
What I learned opened a new world.
The options market to the unsavvy seems almost unreachable. But the OIC Quick Guides along with other videos on the OIC website present tactics for investing in options. They are comprehensible and simple and help open it up to anyone. The videos are clear; options involve higher risk than a mutual fund or individual stock, but the options market offers opportunities for people to make significant sums of money with the right strategies.
After a short explanation, each video invites the viewer to learn more on the OIC website. It is a veritable encyclopedia of market and investing information. Along with lessons, articles and videos the OIC has live webinars, listings for seminars and events, and podcasts. It’s an everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about kind of experience.
Circling back to the original question: Does your eLearning voice over talent need to be an expert in the domain you’re teaching? Did I need to be experienced with “covered calls” before I narrated a script about them? Certainly, familiarity with the vocabulary and flow of the information helps. But beyond that, it is a function of the talent and experience of your narrator. A not-so-good narrator can lull the listener into a painfully catatonic state where little learning and little retention exists. A good, professional narrator can make it sound engaging, interesting and present.
Bottom line? We are used to fast-paced media and have limited attention spans. A worthy narrator can help make your message stick. What has your experience been?