Just like this Porifera named Bob, children are like sponges. Sometimes we forget how quickly and how much they pick up and next thing we know, they’re repeating words we may not think they should incorporate into their vocabularies just yet. They absorb more information than we realize, and their education doesn’t stop when the school bell rings.
And of course, they are extremely comfortable with electronic environments. This plus the fact that schools are overcrowded and underfunded, is it any wonder close to 50% of the growth in eLearning in the US in the last couple of years
has been in the K-12 market. Ergo the profusion of ELearning courses for kids. Whether you as the narrator or a character within a course is helping kids stay on track with their studies or relaying new and exciting subjects, there are a few things voice over actors need to remember when speaking to a younger audience.
Teaching One-on-One, Not Talking Down
Voice over narration for kid’s eLearning is about finding the correct delivery to ensure the young learner is keeping up, but doesn’t feel talked down to. Kids are super sensitive not only to what we say, but how we say it. Speaking too slowly can sound condescending to little Izzy or potentially boring to young Jake. When it comes to educating the next generation our mission is to help keep them interested in and excited about the subjects they’re learning, by staying engaged with the material ourselves. Here’s where your imagination comes into play. Picture Izzy or Jake by your side. They will be super excited and feel great when they understand what you’re saying. Making it real for you, makes it real for them. Your client will read this as a student that is engaged with his or her eLearning is more likely to score better and retain the information.
The Tone, Inevitably, Sets the Tone
Your tone of voice also dictates how the learner receives the information. Kids react well to an upbeat, lively, conversational tone, but the most important thing is to keep it real. Kids are very perceptive and are used to being highly entertained (tv, social media, gaming). You may know the declaration of Independence so well it may be snore city to you, but beware of sliding into a soporific, meditative voice. Take it as a challenge. This is new info to them, make it new to you too. Bring a light undercurrent of energy to your tone. It will help you stay present. Also take the age of your audience into account. Very young children respond better to bubbly or friendly voiceovers, while older kids respond to a broader range of styles from the hip or cool, to quirky or matter of fact. (i.e. Bill Nye the Science Guy) Another possibility is hiring an adult who sounds like a kid. Friend and talented voiceover artist Lisa Biggs has done eLearning for kids with the boy voice she created, “Liam.” She also offers an excellent course on how to discover your boy voice. Many talented female voiceover artists have a couple of those in their tool kit. (Think Nancy Cartwright, a.k.a. Bart Simpson)
The thing to remember for eLearning voice over project directed to kids or any age, is that your work is a major part of the listener’s overall understanding and education. As they say in the modules, key takeaway? It’s: important.