How Voice Actors Can Hop Aboard Online Train(ing)
Growth in eLearning was already on a sharp upward trajectory before COVID-19. The speed of this growth is now exponential like a high speed rail hurtling through both academic and corporate training environments. Technavio recently tweeted that the online education market is poised to grow by $247.46 billion during 2020-2024, and went on to note the extension of containment efforts is leading to higher demand, which is driving significant revenue for eLearning producers.
A majority (75%) of Instructional Designers (IDs) and content creators alike acknowledge the value and impact of narration (based on an unscientific survey of 110 in a recent FB poll). So how can voice actors hop aboard this online train(ing)? Here are some things to consider.
The Academic Situation
In the academic world, even before COVID-19, education technology went through exponential growth and adoption. The World Economic Forum saw global edtech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to reach $350 Billion by 2025.
But with the onset of COVID-19 teachers and profs scrambled to turn written content into formats that would suddenly work online. In the spring it became evident that especially in younger grades, zoom classrooms were not working.
This has resulted in a boom in supporting animation and micro lesson production. Videos, visuals, and audio content break up lessons and activities into formats that hold attention and are extremely popular. This inundation of production has not always come with budgets that would normally be fitting. The lack of funds spent on narration has spawned a lot of DIY narration that miss the mark. That said, despite the influx of a lot of requests for eLearning-like material at audiobook rates, there are still great elearning gigs for voiceover narrators.
Where is Corporate eLearning Going?
In-person corporate training was already on a downswing because of the advantages of online training (in money-saving, time-saving and sometimes greater efficiency). The cost of in-person training is much higher (travel, accommodations, paying one person to train multiple people, multiple times instead of creating one program and reusing it).
COVID-19 accelerated that momentum as well, upending operations for many businesses and moving everything, including corporate education, online perhaps permanently. As a recent Harvard Business Review article was quoted in Forbes magazine, “When the urgent part of the crisis has been navigated, companies should consider what this crisis changes and what they’ve learned so they can reflect them in their plans.”
The pandemic necessitated the use of online virtual communication platforms like Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and more and has increased the need for additional training and communication surrounding work-from-home policies and virtual communication standards. These video conferencing technologies circumvented the need for face-to-face learning and communication. And as businesses quickly adapt, ideas such as eLearning and online training for other areas of corporate development become more common-place.
Where Do Professional Voice Actors Fit it?
So where do professional voice actors fit in online training? The same place we always have – as a high-quality solution to engage and inspire learning. Emphasis on high-quality. Along with the explosion in eLearning offerings, some content creators are trying out AIs as alternative narrators to save money (this is, unfortunately for students, happening more in the academic sector). To differentiate ourselves from machines, a voice actor’s audio quality and performance must really be stellar. It also needs to be seriously human – because a good machine will easily replace a poor narrator.
Another point to consider? People are scrambling. Be a resource. To your existing clients and others. An ID I know created an explainer for a product he was selling with his wife (a Mom and Pop solution biz) and asked for feedback from a circle. The male voice on the explainer was not bad for an amateur, but the female voice detracted from his pitch. So I recorded a version for him to use instead and offered that as feedback and for free or as a guide track for Mrs. ID to use to listen to and re-record a better version. This took about 10 minutes of my time and helped a contact who since became a client (not for the explainer, he still went with his wife on that, but) for his eLearning projects. Being helpful makes and solidifies connections and makes the world a better place.