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The Biggest VO Names in ... E-learning?

 
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John Kissinger



Joined: 20 Dec 2016
Posts: 15
Location: Detroit

PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:46 pm    Post subject: The Biggest VO Names in ... E-learning? Reply with quote

Hi Folks,

Quick question for ya...

While it probably takes very little effort for us to come up with short lists of the top names in VO for Commercial, Animation, Promo, Documentary, etc., who would you say are the most recognized names in our industry for E-learning?

As a full-time designer and part-time voicer of same, I'm looking for some help in determining whose work I really should be studying and whom I should potentially study with.

Thanks so much for your help!

John Kissinger
Professional. Smart. Mouth.
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bobsouer
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Joined: 15 Jul 2006
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi John,

I'm not sure it's possible to compile such a list. It's such a wide-ranging field with myriad sub-specialities that I can't imagine there are many "names" to be identified.

That said, there are a number of us for whom eLearning is our bread-and-butter who hang out here at the VO-BB. Welcome and enjoy the journey.
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Bruce
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Joined: 06 Jun 2005
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Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you go to Voicebank.net you will find a dozen categories of voice work, but no E-learning that I've seen. That kind of work is covered by good narrators, storytellers, or actors. E-learning is telling people in a particular industry things they want to know or must know to succeed or advance. Be versatile and develop a keen sense of what it takes to connect with the listener and you will do well.


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Bish
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Joined: 22 Nov 2009
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Location: Lost in the cultural wasteland of Long Island

PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elearning is such a broad church. The type of delivery expected can range from the storyteller, the experienced work colleague or the knowledgable instructor, to the formal & precise (even didactic). Some specific sub-genres have a style that's determined by legality and precision (e.g. instructional medical) where delivery has to be crisp, clear and unambiguous... and word-perfect (no slipping in any contractions!)

If the client hasn't given precise instructions, I usually ask if this is...
a) a formal presentation given with authority.
b) an in-house instructor in front of a class.
c) an in-house instructor around the water-cooler after the class.

This usually helps to narrow it down. Usually, unless it's an instructional piece about using surgical equipment (or suchlike), they quite often opt for the water-cooler approach.

So, you're ranging from authoritative & ultra-precise, to informal peer-to-peer. There is no "one-size-fits-all". As Bruce said, it's all about connection and engagement. If you can tell a story and people keep listening or turn on the ultra-precise when needed, then you can do elearning. If you've got these basic skills, then I would say that elearning is one area of VO where coaching is almost an irrelevance (I know some will disagree). The trick is to sound like you know what you're talking about!
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vkuehn
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Joined: 24 Apr 2013
Posts: 688
Location: Vernon now calls Wisconsin home

PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't kept it big secret, but I haven't made a lot of noise about it either. I am still "picking up the pieces" from a relocation and I now am about 4 miles from the center of the campus of the University of Wisconsin. My plan is to find out how many different programs there are on the campus to train young people who want a career of implementing and then see if I can figure out which of the programs is teaching tomorrow's leaders who will be deciding how to do e-learning. I assume for some industries e-learning could be "voiceless"; in some industries "Sue down in accounting" can do what little voicing they want, but there will be lines of business where professional voice will be wanted, will be needed. So far I have met one staff-member/supervisor who has a group producing VIDEOS.... not necessarily training or educational videos. I don't expect my curiosity to produce a quick over-night route to paid work.

The word "Bodalgo" came out of my first contact.
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John Kissinger



Joined: 20 Dec 2016
Posts: 15
Location: Detroit

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the replies so far, Bob, Bruce, Peter, and Venon!

T'is as I suspected.

It seems that E-learning fits into so many VO's stable of offerings and, not uncommonly, their bread and butter work. Yet it doesn't seem to gain the outward notoriety (nor the coaching?) that so many other lines of VO seem to warrant.

Is it strictly because it spans so many sub-genre? Or, is it perhaps because of its lack of glamour and prestige (Blech! Corporate work!)? Or, maybe it's as Bish seems to suggest -- its lack of requiring the performance (read as: acting) chops commensurate with needing a coach? Odd for such a huge segment of work that can be among the most lucrative in our industry.

On that last point? Do any of you disagree with Bish about the need for coaching in E-learning-specific voiceover? Just looking for alternate perspectives. If you do have a difference of opinion, whom would you suggest working with to master it?

Note: Not talking about sub-specialties like medical/technical narration here. Just your everyday run-of-the-mill corporate learning work.

Bish, for better or worse, I seem to be frighteningly adept at convincing people that I know what I'm talking about. Hence why I'm trying to buck the trend, embrace humility, and ask where one might go to master this particular sub-set of VO.

As I mentioned in my self-intro to the BB, various corporations have entrusted me (for 20 years!) with educating their needy masses -- whether as stand-up trainer, facilitator, or designer of learning, and yes, even giving voice to their training videos and E-learning. One brave institution of higher learning even risked making me an Adjunct Professor well before I'd finished my graduate degree.

Ah...the awesome power of knowing just enough to be dangerous and speaking with authority. :-/

Folks, I've been on the client side of this work for a long time. But, I'm still quite wet behind the ears with respect to doing it from this side of the microphone...for pay. So, I'm quite eager to learn from all of you...and anyone/everyone who can help me progress.

Thanks again for sharing!

John Kissinger
Professional. Smart. Mouth.
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ConnieTerwilliger
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Joined: 07 Dec 2004
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Location: San Diego - serving the world

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
On that last point? Do any of you disagree with Bish about the need for coaching in E-learning-specific voiceover? Just looking for alternate perspectives. If you do have a difference of opinion, whom would you suggest working with to master it?


As with any script, we need to know the basics of who we are and who we are talking to so that we get the right "tone." We need to know a little (in some cases a lot) about the subject matter so that we can talk to the listener as a SME (subject matter expert). If we don't know anything about the subject, then we need to know when and what questions to ask.

We need fluency to get through longer chunks of copy (although with some self-directed pieces, I find myself stopping and starting much more than I would in a directed session - which almost never happens in eLearning/training anymore). We have the ability to parse through the fat to get to the flesh on the bones.

You need to be able to hear if you are able to wrap your head around long complex sentences that may contain lots of industry specific jargon. I think many of us just have a knack for plowing through this kind of thing. Some things can't be "taught." A good coach can help make you aware - help you listen better so that when you hear something that isn't clicking, you can then affect change. If you can't then make these changes on your own, then perhaps long form isn't the best area to pursue. (I worked with a former news guy who was doing commercials - locally - and the client liked his voice, but he simply couldn't get into the groove of a 20-page script. He was wired for short-form and wasn't able to make the connections needed from the beginning of the script to the end of the script. Would coaching have helped - I wonder.)

But as to who is a good coach - well, someone who works for me, might now work for you. And it depends on what kind of coaching - Level 1 - I don't even know what questions to ask - or level 3 - I do this, but wonder how I can get better at it.
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Bish
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Joined: 22 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't mean to imply that no acting chops are required. I am just of the opinion that elearning is really bread'n'butter work that should be part of a jobbing VO's baseline skill-set. There is always the element of script interpretation which may need some research if you are not familiar with the subject matter. (There was an interesting example on FB the other day when someone was amused to hear that the British stock-market FTSE index was pronounced "Footsie"). Products and procedures in the medical profession will need to have their pronunciations researched... all good stuff like that.

... but, once all the technical stuff is sorted and you have a clear indication as to the tone required, it's all about engagement. 20,000 words about clinical research trials can be an uphill struggle... but telling a retail chain store's millennial staff about how to prepare for the new Spring fashions and colour palette can actually be quite a lot of fun.

... and Connie makes an excellent point saying that some people are just not wired for long-form.
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Bish a.k.a. Bish
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bobsouer
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with my colleagues here. Good voiceover coaching, for that matter good acting and/or improv coaching will teach you everything except the technical specifics that you need. There's no need for a search for an "eLearning" coach.
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Bob Souer (just think of lemons)
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John Kissinger



Joined: 20 Dec 2016
Posts: 15
Location: Detroit

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great! Thank you all for your priceless input here.

And, Bish, my apologies. I didn't mean to imply...that you meant to imply...that no skill was required. Sorry for misrepresenting your view on that.

Naturally, as others have reaffirmed too, at least a baseline of acting/VO talent is required -- along with the ability to do long-form, and a modicum of fundamental investigative/research skills.

In sum: it seems no specialized training unique to eLearning is a prerequisite for success in that niche.

Thanks again, all.
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Jen Gosnell
A Hundred Dozen


Joined: 14 Jan 2010
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Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, John, it's an interesting question you asked and I think the answers you got are on the money. I agree that for E-learning, as long as you can act well enough keeping your specific audience in mind, and possess the stamina, you will probably be well on your way to booking work!

Now all that said.... I do know of someone who does specifically (though not exclusively) coach for E-learning. She's an actor (20-year VO, also does on-camera) by the name of Alyson Steel. I know of one person who came from a similar professional background to yours, who has coached with Alyson and is doing well in VO as an e-Learning specialist. I myself had a brief, positive experience being coached by her as part of a broader course I was taking. After hearing me read once she gave very specific, similar feedback to what I've heard and am working through with my regular coach, so that to me implied competence.

Anyway, John, it sounded like you'd like to check out a VO coach experienced with E-learning as a sounding board on where you're at. So I wanted to offer this suggestion up for what it's worth. Cheers for your new professional direction!

Jen
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