A Conversation with Eric Lee about Voice Talent, Storytelling and the Industry

The other day I had a chance to ask Eric Lee a few questions about being a voice artist , storytelling, how he got started and why high quality audio is so important for effective eLearning.

Kapp: You are in a rather unique area of online learning development, you are a voice artist. Can you tell us what a voice artist does in the learning industry?

Eric Lee: As a voice artist, I provide natural-sounding voice work that helps the learner stay focused on the content and understand it. When I’m the main narrator, I take the approach of a knowledgeable, friendly “tour guide.” If I’m doing a character part (sales manager, engineer, etc.), then believability is key here, too. Once the script is recorded, each segment is mastered as an individual audio file that’s easy for programmers to drop into the course.

Kapp: Why do you think voice is so important in creating effective learning online and otherwise?

Eric Lee: It’s the difference between a lifeless, monotone delivery of information that puts a student to sleep versus an engaging, expressive voice that holds the learner’s attention, and thereby, the student actually learns. When it’s done well, eLearning voice work is a form of storytelling, and I’d say most everyone enjoys a good story.

Kapp: In addition to being a voice artist, you have a number of other talents that are valuable in creating effective learning events, can you explain your work as a scriptwriter and with video services.

Eric Lee: I take the same approach to writing as I do with voiceover. Whatever the topic, I’m essentially telling a story. My writing style is geared to convey that story in a way that the learner will clearly understand as well as relate to, and not feel like they’re being “talked at”, but rather “talked with.” The same holds true as a video producer. Whether it involves graphics and still images, to creating a realistic, relatable scenario with multiple actors, my job is to creatively tell the story so the student actually learns.

Kapp: What elements do you think make a good story?

Eric Lee: The best stories lead the reader/learner to say, “Hey, that’s me!” or “I’ve been in that situation myself.” In other words, when a story creates believable, three- dimensional characters who work through a challenge or conflict that the audience can emotionally relate to, you’ve got an outstanding teaching tool, and a real winner!

Kapp: How did you get your start working in the learning field?

Eric Lee: A little over a decade ago, I was introduced to it by a referral that a video producer made to an eLearning developer who was just starting his company and needed a narrator. Actually, it was a pretty natural fit, since, for 20 years prior, I had done a variety of voiceover ranging from medical, technical and training scripts to marketing-oriented material. These days, eLearning voiceover is a significant part of my business mix, and I’m glad that’s the case.

Kapp: What do you like most about what you do?

Eric Lee: I get to use the talents I’ve been given in my production studio to help people create presentations that tell their story.

Kapp: Do you have any samples or demos we can check out?

Eric Lee: http://www.ericleeproductions.com/demos.php

Kapp: Any advice for my graduate students relating to the field, obtaining good voice talent and developing effective learning?

Eric Lee: Helping others to truly learn and then apply it is one of the best things in life. It’s true in families, the work world and society in general. Tell the story well, visually and with believable voice talent.

Kapp: Eric, thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. Enjoyed learning about your work.

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