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.
Rise of the Robots! AI in eLearning Narration
Ok, I'm just going to start by saying I'm obviously biased in my opinion about where AI can (should?) live in the eLearning narration world.
Full disclosure, in the last year (2020) around 50% my income was from eLearning Narration work. There was a HUGE surge in people needing to produce virtual training, especially in the upskilling/certification world.
Not necessarily in the world of corporate learning, that was honestly pretty steady compared to 2019, for me at least.
That said, I try to keep my eyes on future advances in technology related to voice and learning, things that might impact my future as a voice talent. In the last couple of months I have seen a handful of articles touting the "benefits" of AI voices in eLearning narration.
It's mostly been focused on saving money and speeding up production. No one seems to be talking about how the learners feel.
Or how effective it is at accomplishing the real goal... learning.
Setting my bias aside, I want to hear from you in the community.
What do you think?
Is it a handful of companies producing AI voice avatars simply targeting an industry that uses voices and is often very budget conscious?
Are we a decade or less from the rise of AI in eLearning and the end of eLearning voiceover for DIY and Pro alike?
Knowing full well, we can't predict how good these robots will get, I still feel we're a long way off from a robot expressing empathy or urgency in their read.
Let me know your thoughts. Shoot me an email or look me up on LinkedIn.
Do you need eLearning Narration?
Last week, the wonderful Devlin Peck released a video titled "Does your eLearning Project Need Narration?" - which I thought had some great ideas around necessary application of narration in eLearning.
If you haven't watched it, I absolutely suggest you go check it out. Subscribe to his channel while you're over there! Great videos released much more consistently than episodes of this podcast!
In this episode, I riff on some of my thoughts on Devlin's major points and expand on them from the perspective of a narrator.
I know what you're thinking..
There is one point where I kinda, sorta, somewhat disagree. It's really less of a disagreement and more of a difference of perspective based on what could be a differing approach to the craft of eLearning Narration.
That said, I don't really know Devlin's familiarity with my approach to narrating eLearning or if he does any narration himself, so it isn't fair of me to assume anything.
Plus my bias as a narrator obviously comes into play when talking about whether or not narration should be included in a project.
That said, I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments, so drop them in the box and let me know what you think.
* Devlin's website
* Does your eLearning Project Need Narration? - Devlin Peck
* Mayer's Principles - Devlin Peck
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
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
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.…