This is a topic which is discussed a lot, amongst people in the VO business. While many of the skills needed are the same – great comprehension, an engaging style and XXXXX, there are several unique challenges faced when producing audio for training.
1. Throughput. The voice actor has to have the ability to produce a lot of work, in a short period of time, with little or no preparation. In this high-volume fast turnaround environment, it’s not uncommon to have to read 3500 words of copy in an hour, cold, with minimal retakes. There’s really not time to antagonize over the finer points of the performance – the talent needs to be able to deliver.
You also need an engineer who’s on the ball, as far as workflow. To be profitable, you’ve got to constantly analyze every step of your process, and keep up with all of the latest technical advances which can shave valuable minutes off it.
2. Consistency. If you’ve worked in the field, you know that many training courses have a lifespan of several years, and are often updated to remain viable. Your rig needs to be set up so that you can record a patch 6-12 months after the initial recording session and drop it in seamlessly.
I tend to record flat and do any processing post-tracking, so all I need to worry about at the session is microphone position and levels.
3. The long-run. There’s a huge difference between listening to a :30 selling soap, and having to spend an hour or so with someone without A. falling asleep, or B. getting worn out. I’m not sure which one is worse!
There’s a certain tone which needs to be hit – friendly, open and welcoming. You can’t be too dramatic – this quickly becomes tiring for the listener. You also can’t be excessively didactic – e-learning isn’t the same as a college lecture and that’s a big turn off, especially for challenging technical material.