Narrating your eLearning is about more than just delivering information, it's about engaging your learners. To get the most out of your time narrating, you need to make sure you're focused on the things that will improve the conversationality of your narration and connect your learner to the message and intent of your e-learning project.
You Need To Practice - Part 2
A piano, guitar, and the alphabet walk into a bar...
Oh wait. That's a different thing.
After a bunch of questions, I'm revisiting the concept of practicing your eLearning narration.
Many of you have asked "How much do I need to practice?" or maybe "What should I practice?"
Well, listen in and you can hear me riff a little more on what practice actually means to me.
You can also listen to the previous episode, if you want to dig in a bit more.
Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/music-musician-piano-keyboard-4934190/
Don't Fear the Silence
Ask any good musician and they'll tell you the trick is the space between the notes.
That's what we're here today to talk about. Pauses.
We're usually so focused on the words and the performance of them, that we forget to address intentional silences.
We can use them to catch a breath, add emphasis, and help pull a listener along.
They can also be used to overwhelm a listener or ruin your effectiveness because you paused for too long and left them wondering if maybe the audio dropped out.
Because less is more, that's all I have to say for now. Enjoy the episode.
The Wandering Mind
This month I've been working through a huuuuge eLearning Narration project. I mean, HUGE. Nearly 80,000 words, more than 30 modules, all for one client.
That equates to probably close to 8 hours of completed audio.
The full process involves the following main steps:
* A quick read to know what's coming
* Recording the first take and fixing mistakes as I go
* Creating regions for file naming
* Proof listening a module to find mistakes I missed during recording
* Cutting in new lines or recutting an entire section to improve the original take for clarity/pacing/spaces/etc
* Fixing any annoying breaths, mouth noises, or odd background sounds I didn't notice while recording
* Rendering to MP3
* Making sure the individual files are all there, named correctly, and sound as I expect (rendering errors and artifacts can definitely happen!)
The Wandering Mind
The biggest problem you have when you're doing this much narration is a wandering mind.
At various point during the process you can start drifting mentally to any number of places. Especially if you find the content a bit dry, you've been going too long without a break, or you have a lot of different things pulling at your attention.
A drifting mind has a number of consequences for your learner, the worst is a disengaged performance.
Your learners take your cue from you. If you're engaged and interested in what you're saying, they'll be interested in what you have to say.
But if you have no energy, are thinking about dinner and what you have to do later, and checked out while you're reading to them... well, they aren't going to be listening.
Keeping your eLearning Narration focus, will also lead to an increase in your perceived Authority. So that's a win-win situation for you and your learners.
Also, check out the 20-20-20 rule for preventing eyestrain while reading
Finding Your Intent - Why "Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How"?
Today, we're talking about finding your intent in your eLearning Narration performance.
And I may have just simultaneously written the best and worst headline in the history of the Internet, but it will all make sense when you listen to the episode.
What is Intent?
Stop. Right. THERE!
Intent is not a "what". Intent is your "why".
Why are you narrating this eLearning? Why are you saying the thing you're saying? Why are you talking about this concept before the next one?
Do not confuse your "why" with your "what"!
Your intent is not just to get someone to learn something, it's not to diffuse the information you have to all of the learners out there.
What you're trying to do is get people to absorb and learn the concepts. But the harder question is "Why are you trying to get this person to learn this concept." The emphasis on each is very important.
Why do they need to know how to be better, faster, or stronger at their job? (Hint: it's not so the company makes more money)
Why do they need to go through the 2021 benefits training when the 2020 benefits training was almost identical? (Hint: It's not because HR is required to train every employee every year)
Finding Your Intent
To make finding your intent easier, first let's make this less confusing and define our terms.
We already know "Why" = "Intent".
Let's call "What" your "Objective". This is the outcome you're trying to produce: Learning something new, getting better at your job, etc.
You can find your intent by working through the answers to the 6 key questions posed in the magnificent headline of this article.
Listen in and you'll hear me work through these questions and give you some examples of how you should approach each question.
You'll also get a little insight into my own personal "Why".
Links and Things
I've discussed many of these concepts in other episodes, but I was inspired to dig this by Larry Conroy's 2009 article on an actor's intent, "What is the Difference Between an Action, an Objective, and an Intention?"
This episode will also play well with another acting-focused episode: Nebulous Woo Woo Stuff
The Best Way to Improve Your eLearning Narration
"I still sound like I'm reading!"
I've heard that sentiment from a number of people trying to get better at eLearning Narration... Then I realized something.
All of these people (possibly even you!) are missing one key ingredient when it comes to improving their eLearning Narration and sounding like a professional voice talent — not someone sitting in an office and reading a script or an even worse version of Amazon Polly.
That key thing is something you're very familiar with. In fact, when you hear it on this episode, it's going to hit you like a flyswatter on a hot August afternoon.
Take a second and think about your typical approach to narration. You only fire up your mic once it becomes time to lay down some dulcet tones on that fancy eLearning module you just built in Articulate.
Or maybe for today's forty-second Zoom Meeting.
And right there is your problem!
People only worry about being a great eLearning narrator when they have to do the voiceover for an eLearning Module.
You don't get better at something by only doing it once a month or even once a week. You need to do things much more often. There's a word for this... hmm... What do we call it when we repeatedly perform a task with the aim of getting better?
When I was first getting into voice over I would fit learning about the business and practicing the craft into as many spaces of my life as I could. I'd listen to podcasts on my drives and dog walks, read about it at night before bed, and practice, practice, practice on my microphone every. single. day.
I was submitting hundreds of auditions. Early on, I didn't lie to myself about getting hired for the job, but I knew that every script I read and every hour I spent with my DAW got me a step closer to getting good enough that I'd be able to do the work of a voice talent as a full-time career.
And now voice over is what I've done full-time, more comfortably than I was as software developer or a corporate trainer, for nearly three years now.
But don't worry about getting 10,000 hours on the microphone. That's not necessary, you just need more focused practice time than you're currently getting. Which can't be hard. More than zero isn't much!
How to effectively Practice eLearning Narration
Take a listen to the episode for my tips on how to effectively practice your eLearning narration skills. You don't need to spend hours a day recording yourself. But it'll help if you have some guidelines and a good benchmark to work towards.
In this episode you'll learn:
* 3 specific things you need to do make sure you're practicing effectively
* A simple way to create a benchmark to strive for (what good is practice without a goal?)
* How often you'll need to practice
* How to avoid practicing the wrong things and ingraining bad habits
* Why the CDC Hand Washing article can be an effective practice script
Here are some episodes you can check out to help you practice more effectively:
* Bad and Incomplete Advice
* Who's it For? Part 1
* Who's it For? Part 1
* Control Your Breath
Is A VO Too Pro?
One major complaint, gripe, or observation I've heard a number of times is that professional voice talent can sometimes sound too professional.
When you've heard it, you may have said something like this:
"They just sound too professional!"
"They don't sound like us."
Traditionally, a voiceover talent performing eLearning has a very distinct sound. It could be described as "professional." But more often, I'd probably describe it as steady, deliberate or precise... but on the less-nice side maybe even dull, droning, or boring.
The thing is, that "professional" sound that pops into your head is something that you should be trying to avoid. Your learners want to hear someone who sounds like a trusted coworker, not someone who sounds like they're doing an impression of a VO.
Listen in to the episode to learn tips to avoid the "too professional" sound in your own eLearning narration by keeping your narration casual and engaging for the learner.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Thanks for making this. Lots of helpful tips. I would love to hear more about your process and the mechanics of recording. Best recording practices, how to get into a regular schedule of recording, etc.…