Many staff and faculty take advantage of the eLearning Studio, especially the Articulate Studio software, to get outside of the traditional lecture and flip their classroom with some audio narration. Employing this type of teaching model is beneficial for both faculty and students, however most folks don’t anticipate how challenging designing for online delivery can be. Use the following tips to help you think through how to best include audio narration in your next CLE course.
The number one piece of advice the Learning Technologies Group (LTG) gives to faculty and staff who are including audio narration is to write and practice reading a script before coming to the eLearning Studio to do their recording (and maybe even before you create your slideshow!).
Writing text for a learner to read is a lot different than writing text that will be listened to. A voiceover script is like a conversation with your learners, so write with listening in mind and give your learners the feeling that you are actually talking to each student personally.
Be sure to include transitional statements when moving from one topic to another. Phrases like “Now that we have a better understanding of [insert topic], let’s look at how to apply [insert next topic] or “Let’s shift gears to discuss [insert next topic]” help in carrying the learner along with you as you talk through the content.
Keep your script sentences short, simple, and direct. This will require some editing after your initial writing. When reviewing, first, take a look at the text at the paragraph level and cut out the sentences that aren’t really saying very much. Then, go to the sentence level and cut out the unnecessary words. You’ll probably find many ways to reduce the words on the page, but keep the content in tact.
Ideally, a script shouldn’t match the text learners see the screen verbatim. People read much faster than narration can play and this may be frustrating for the learner. This is a great opportunity to determine if your slides are visually appealing and pithy enough. Take advantage of the two different modes of delivery (audio narration and visual text) and deliver each piece of content in the mode that makes the most sense. (Check out the other UCSF Learning Technologies blog The Better Presenter for more tips on this.)
Always read your script out loud when you review it. Ask yourself is this how people really talk about this topic? Well designed courses reflect reality. Because of that, try to keep your writing and delivery as honest as possible. Your learners will appreciate it!
As you can see below, in Articulate Presenter, the speaker notes that you add to your PowerPoint slides appear for you along the side of the screen when you record narration in the software. Take advantage of this feature and copy the script for each slide into PowerPoint!
Additional spacing makes your script easier to read. Add a hard return between each sentence of your script. Also, mark the places in your script where you’ll want to add a natural pause or an inflection in your voice for emphasis. Indicate pauses with the word “pause” in brackets and indicate emphasized words with bold or italicized text.
When you’re sitting in the Studio about to start your recording, it’s best practice to wait one or two seconds from clicking the record button to beginning to speak. This will go a long way for the learner who’ll be listening to the slides back to back. Instead of receiving the information rapid fire, this gives them a short time to process the content on the slide before the narration begins. It’s also a good idea to wait a second or two when you’re finished speaking to stop the recording, especially if you or someone else will be editing your audio files.
Although most of us are neither professional actors nor voice over talent, it still is worth trying to add in differences in tone and inflection to make it clear why the content is important to the learners. Think about the kind of attitude you would want to hear when listening to a recording. Most eLearning developers and scriptwriters encourage the use of an informal, friendly tone in the delivery of the content. Help learners make a connection with you and stay engaged in the content. Listen to examples of well-done narration for online Learning by voice-over artists.*
Lastly, be open to rewriting the script as you’re recording or even after you think you’re done! You may decide something should be reworded, deleted, or added in while you’re in the Studio. And that’s OK, too! Ad-libbing helps with enhancing the natural flow of the conversation and makes for a more engaging course experience.
Do you have any tips or tricks for audio narration or script writing that you’d like to share? Please write your comments below!
*Please note the LTG has never worked with this artist and therefore, are not specifically recommending working with her.
Headset Image Credit: Microsoft Office