25 Reasons Working with Professional Narrators Saves You Money in eLearning

Which do you do: Hire a plumber or repair the pipes yourself? Agree to let your brother-in-law build an addition on the back of your house, or engage a contractor with a solid reputation? Seems obvious. The professional will get the job done well, with fewer headaches, and will cost less than doing it yourself in the long run. Because fewer worms will be released.

To those of us who make our living at voicing eLearning, not going with a pro narrator to pull together your finished product is like buying an iPhone with no data plan. Since facts often help back a choice, here are 23 reasons why professional narration not only makes eLearning sound better, but saves companies money.


  1. Doing your own in-house narration can be as expensive as outsourcing it, with lower quality results.
  2. Professional narrators are great storytellers. They guide, inspire, encourage, and connect the listener to the material on an emotional level.
  3. Amateurs don’t know how to control their speech. Sibilance, overly popped “p’s” and mouth noises disturb the listener and give them an unpleasant auditory experience.
  4. Professional voice over artists narrate all the time. They are very quick and usually turn files around back to you within 24-48 hours.
  5. They work with high quality microphones, that capture a beautiful range of vocal tone. Recording on a computer or USB mic is anathema to professional narrators.
  6. They use great mic technique. The sound is solid and steady. They don’t float off mic or brush against it causing distortion and upsetting the learner’s concentration.
  7. They work in sound studios and booths, which eliminates ambient/background noise.
  8. The professional will be available a month or a year later, whereas the helpful co-worker may have moved on, so pickups and updates will always have consistent quality and won’t have to be entirely re-recorded.
  9. Non-pros take 2-3 times longer reading, and editing 2-3 times longer too.
  10. Poor narration will ruin good content.
  11. Conveying technical language with which you are not familiar is a gift that few have. Professionals work to develop this skill.
  12. Everyone wants the “conversational, authentic” read nowadays, but it takes skill to sound natural. Amateur talent rarely sound natural, especially if the content is generic (“in the following module, you will learn [A, B, C]”).
  13. Risk your program becoming distracting, boring.
  14. A pro can give you an authentic read if you want something less polished, just ask them to keep it real.
  15. A good eLearning pro will be as passionate as a SME about your content.
  16. Acronyms and technical jargon are what your pro narrator lives for. Seriously.
  17. Amateurs are less able to infer the relationships from the sentence structure, resulting in recordings that distract the learner from the content.


  1. As the market/technology has changed, professional narrators less expensive than in past.
  2. Hiring a pro means no downtime or re-scheduling of work for co-employees.
  3. An amateur with a good voice does not equal a good narration. They are less likely to decipher and deliver keywords and takeaways and will take a lot more time to record, delaying your schedule.
  4. You can ask for a sample of what it will sound like with a pro & with non-pro to hear the difference yourself (or your client’s self and get them to) sign off on it.
  5. Your script will be better from the get-go, because you’ll have a little extra pressure to get it right and on time. This also helps give you an excuse to push your client to sign off on script and on n rewrites/corrections.
  6. Often a pro includes retakes in price (i.e. free reasonable pickups in first 48 hours after delivery) and most will do their own QA before delivering files, to cut down on the back and forth.
  7. Professional narrators often include editing and file cutting in their prices.
  8. Often Pro VO’s offer discounts for volume work.

You want your training project to be an impactful, effective learning tool. Step back. Look at the bigger picture. Sometimes you have more time than money, and sometimes time really IS money. In the long run, using in-house talent will often cost you more time and produce lower quality.

Kim Handysides is a Voice Over Artist extraordinaire, dog lover and scuba diver. She can be found in her padded 4×6 (a.k.a. home studio) weekly mainlining the message.