eLearning Narration – In House vs Outsourcing

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eLearning Narration – In House vs Outsourcing

Matt Archer

November 29, 2021

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An eLearning course can sometimes be seen as an interactive book or movie, and what often separates the forgettable from the memorable books is the quality of the narrative. With eLearning, one can use narration to inspire, educate, and increase learner interest in the content.

The question becomes, how best can you accomplish this? Do you want to hire professional voice actors to provide an entertaining narrative, or do you need to ensure your audience knows what they’re hearing is coming from industry experts? Perhaps both?

In this article, we’ll examine 5 factors to consider when choosing whether to create your narration in-house or outsource it.


Purpose - eLearning Narration – In House vs OutsourcingThe first thing that will impact the narration in eLearning is the purpose of the eLearning itself.  Ask yourself, what is the training for? Is it to educate, to entertain, or both?  While you are likely to be able to find professional voice actors who can be very entertaining, and possibly even educational, it may be difficult to source that same ability in-house.

The next question to consider is, how does the narration fit into the course? Is it an ancillary element that’s there to complement other aspects, or is it the centerpiece?

When your narration is an important pillar of the content, it means people will be paying a lot of attention to it, and will likely prefer listening to someone who is pleasing to the ears and/or can provide them with useful insights. You may prefer hiring someone who can provide the type of voice that best fits the content, or you may need someone who knows what they’re talking about to be able to provide additional insights about key points that aren’t found in the script.


Budget - eLearning Narration – In House vs OutsourcingMoney and Time are both valuable resources, and the narration process can use large amounts of both in some cases, so it’s important to take your budget into consideration prior to making your narration decision.

The first question to consider is – do we have the budget to outsource our content to professional narrators? While there are many high-quality voice actors available for reasonable prices these days, they often charge per word or for small chunks of words. When you start needing them to record hours worth of dialogue, it can become quite pricey. This still might be a reasonable option if you have the money, but time and quality are bigger concerns.

Additionally, if you’re thinking of recording in-house instead, you might want to ask yourself, can we afford to use in-house staff to narrate? Depending on who is doing the narration, this may detract from their regular duties with your company and slow down other elements in your pipeline. Additionally, unless the person you’re using has strong speaking skills and/or a background in narration recording, you may find that it takes much longer to record, edit, re-record, and finalize the narration compared to a professional narrator.

That’s why it’s also a good idea to determine how quickly the narration needs to get completed. Perhaps you have an internal, or client-imposed, deadline, which needs to be met, which can influence the option you choose. Professional narrators can usually complete things much quicker, and with a higher degree of recording quality, than doing things in-house unless you have a dedicated narration team in your training department. For most SMBs this may not be the case.

Quality level

Quality Level - eLearning Narration – In House vs OutsourcingThe next thing to consider when choosing between in-house vs outsourced narration is the level of quality you’re expecting from the finished product.

If you choose to go with professional voice actors, you’re usually going to get someone with strong speaking skills, a background in narrating content related to your industry (if possible), and full understanding of all the tools they need to use to record the content and provide it to your team.

When using in-house narration, you may save money by not outsourcing, but that savings could be reduced by the time it takes your narrator to learn the tools, record and edit the material to get it good enough, and the final product may not have the same degree of polish that a professional narrator’s would.

Subject-Matter Expertise

Subject-matter Expertise - eLearning Narration – In House vs OutsourcingAnother important area to consider when choosing your narrator is the level of subject-matter expertise required in the narration itself. Ask yourself, will my audience be able to tell if the narrator doesn’t know what they’re talking about? If yes, will that negatively impact the reception of the presentation?

If it’s important for your narrator to be someone who is authentic, who understands the material, or is known to the audience, then this may skew your decision towards recording in-house.

However, there are professional voice actors who record narration for a wide variety of industries and can sound convincing, so if the entertainment value and the quality of the narration is of higher value, this may skew you more towards outsourcing.

Number of Narrators

Number of Narrators - eLearning Narration – In House vs OutsourcingThe final item to consider is how many narrators you’re planning to use for your presentation. Generally, the more narrators you have, the more complex the project can become, which can be equally challenging when hiring professionals or recording in-house. However, professionals are often used to this type of situation and may still provide better value depending on the part you’ve assigned them to.

One thing to consider is whether a Hybrid approach that combines both in-house and outsourced narration is viable. Perhaps you hire a professional voice actor as the host to draw learners in and provide entertaining commentary while supporting them with an industry professional that has subject-matter expertise to speak in a supporting role about complex subjects. This may be the best of both worlds, if it makes sense for your eLearning, considering the other factors discussed earlier.


Final Thoughts

Positive Results™ is a training development and cloud solutions company that works with businesses to identify any gaps in their business process and resolve them through implementing the right training and tools for their unique use case.

We believe that, when done well, narration can breathe life into eLearning content and inspire learners to gain more from the training experience. Choosing whether to do that work in-house and use your team of Subject Matter Experts to explain the material, or outsource your narration to voice actors who may provide a more professional-sounding experience, is often a difficult decision.

The most important thing is to do your due diligence when researching and deciding, as both options can be successful. It often comes down to your unique use case to decide which way to go.


If you have additional questions or need support, contact us at:


Positive Results™ Custom Business Solutions



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