Elearning

When a Solopreneur is Part of a Team

with Shelley and Jack at Devlearn

I did it. I flew across the country to Las Vegas and arrived at Dev Learn, the biggest eLearning conference of the year that the eLearning Guild runs. Any working mom knows that packing one’s bags, getting organized, and getting out always seems like an amazing feet. I even had my hair done. As a professional voiceover actor, a good percentage of my work load is narrating elearning modules, so going to an event like this just makes good business sense for me.

The morning of the conference arrived and with my super cute wheely bag in tow I arrived at the Mirage conference center. Even though I have my own business and run my own broadcast ready recording studio, this morning I was not alone. Before even entering the conference, I met up with other experienced voiceover professionals Shelley Avellino and Jack de Golia. We met for coffee and registered. We spent some time perusing the listings of attendees and discussing who might be good to connect with. I also scanned the list to find my current clients so I’d be able to check in with them. Imagine, we were there to support one another and I walked into the packed expo knowing that there were others there who had my back.

Voiceover is a unique industry. There I was at Dev Learn with the goal of reconnecting with current clients and picking up new ones. The other voice talents there had the same goal. While in other industries we might view eachother as competition, in voiceover, with these folks, we worked together. We supported eachother. We met for lunch and compared notes and swapped contact information. It was extremely helpful. I am not sure which other industries do that. Feeling part of this team was fantastic and was part of the magic of DevLearn.

Staying Current 

With eLearning industry professionals from all over the world, DevLearn provides a wonderful opportunity to stay on top of current trends in an ever-evolving industry. I spoke to professionals from as far as Australia and Russia. While many of these folks were LMS providers and do not work directly with professional narrators like me, hearing about their platforms is essential to understand what the content creators I work with are using.

I also was able to meet a lot of folks who do work in content creation. From mobile learning to gamification, there was so much to see at the amazing Demo Fest. I was also over joyed to reconnect with current clients from around the country. It is really special to see people that I work with regularly in person.

Connecting with Other Working Moms

While it is great to find people who need professionals to narrate their eLearning, in truth it is even better to find universal connections and just have great conversations. I found that I could talk endlessly with a lot of different people at the conference and only had to move on when someone else clearly needed them. I found it particularly easy at the expo to connect with other working moms. This happened over and over again. Whether we had human children or dogs, we were exchanged photos and talking about our loves at home, and the lengthy chats had evolved well beyond the world of eLearning. We talked about everything under the sun from safety to dog treats to our hours. These are the conversations that meant so much to me as I was making real connections and actually getting to know people.

In the middle of the conference a client invited me to a sushi dinner at the Mirage sponsored by Vyond, formerly known as Go Animate. At this dinner, I found myself sitting at a table of women all in instructional design, all working moms. These women were amazing. They were bright and innovative. We were all from different places: Toronto, New York, California, Tennessee, and Michigan. Despite different climates and different backgrounds, we were of similar ages and we were all working moms. We all somehow managed to get all the way to Las Vegas for DevLearn.

Our conversation moved from light banter to some pretty deep topics. We covered faith, skimmed politics, and touched on issues relevant to client relationships. Being surrounded by intelligent, sophisticated women, this table at the Vyond dinner was a microcosm of the DevLearn conference. We represented what is possible in the industry when folks come together and exchange ideas. It wasn’t all pats on the bag, we challenged and questioned each other too. It is, after all, only from this kind of honest banter that real change and genuine creativity can flourish. And I believe that we were there, in this self-created circle, where we somehow felt safe enough to be open with these other people what we were only just getting to know.

The Sum of it All

So when we think about where our training comes from, and when we think about who creates the content for major companies, I am proud to say that I have met the curators of this content and that I am part of this process. The magic of DevLearn is vast, but for sure as a creative it is a joy to be a part of this process.

Professional Voice Actress - Laura Schriber

Last year I made the bold and previously unprecedented move to fly to Atlanta for the annual ATD conference. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Anyone attending, literally anyone, was a potential client for me. Besides the enormous marketing potential that the conference venue gave me, I knew that I would also have an opportunity to learn so much about an industry that I already was extremely passionate about. I arrived at the Atlanta Conference center via shuttle on the first day of the expo and as I descended down what seemed to be endless levels of escalators to reach the expo level, my enthusiasm and anticipation grew. With my bag of information about my professional voiceover business  and swag for potential clients in tow, I was ready. On the way down, I stopped to get a bottle of water. I began chatting with a women who was also attending for the first time. She was also stopping to get a bottle of water. Over our shared thirst, both for eLearning and for water, we realized we had so much in common. As it turned out, my warm, professional sound was exactly what her company needed for their training modules and my water buddy has become a longtime client. Put simply, I am the solution that they need- the comforting, warm, relatable professional voice for an elearning narrator who is pleasant to listen to AND delivers my finished audio promptly.

A Relatable Narrator

First, my meeting was so fortuitous because I had the professional, corporate sound this new client sought in an eLearning narrator. My voice gave a vibe that was both warm and relatable. As a professional voiceover actor, sounding geniune is essential in all genres and especially in eLearning work. When I have the opportunity to meet a client and speak with them person to person, and they realize that the same warmth carries through when I narrate their eLearning modules, I am able to deliver a unique and desirable finished product that appeals to their employees. Why does it matter if I sound warm and not just sophisticated and savvy? They actually need the content to be listened to. Evert word. All the way. So I can sound like the ivy league graduate that I am, or I can sound like the hip millennial that you are happy grabbed the seat next to you at the conference table. The latter always wins out.

Next, as I narrate eLearning work, even though the modules I am given are often very straight forward corporate policies, I am ALWAYS playing a role or character. I learned this technique early on in my training. I decide who my client needs me to be, whether it is Susie in Human Resources or Kim in IT, and then I flesh out my character even further. What is their story? Once I decide who I am playing, I commit to the scene and you can hear it in my voice. As a professional voiceover actor, this technique absolutely makes me a stronger eLearning narrator.

It’s the Teacher in Me…

Lastly, as a former teacher, when I am with people in eLearning I fit in seamlessly. Whether I am talking to an Instructional Designer or an LMS creator, as an eLearning narrator I love the eLearning and Training community. I often say that I have found my people, and perhaps because I identify with them so easily, finding my voice in this crowd happened quite naturally. When doing what you love to do, and what you are passionate about, it is much easier to break down a task, analyze it, and deliver.

Keep Em’ Listening!

Companies hire professional voiceover actors like me to narrate their eLearning modules because these modules have an intrinsic value, the companies spend so much on the technology, and ultimately they want the voice to sound fantastic too. The voice can make or break the entire project.

Friends and family often ask me about my work. Sometimes they do not even know what eLearning is and I have to explain it. Sometimes they do. Recently we had dinner with a good friend of mine who is a Vice President at a major pharmaceutical company. When I told her about some of my recent projects, she said “oh- you’re the training that I play in my car and I skip right though?” Well, my answer is that if they cast my voice and the listener is connecting, then- no! With the right voice to draw in the intended audience, content should not ever be skipped. By using a warm, professional, connected voice as the eLearning narrator, clients should be delighted upon final delivery and employees should connect to the eLearning with ease.