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How Professional Narration Fits In a Successful eLearning Strategy

As a project manager or instructional designer, you are charged with the daunting task of creating the most high quality and meaningful content you can within the limiting constraints of time, talent and budget. Professional narration is sometimes an afterthought in the strategy of managing and creating an eLearning program. Or more like a “ok, great we’ve taken it as far as we can go without audio – quick! Hire someone!”

But the voice, the right voice, brings a whole new level of energy and effectiveness to your project. Compelling narration is the bridge between your content, your graphics, your design and the learner. And in most eLearning designs it is the only “true” human element interface in a course or series of lessons.

Your narrator is more than (hopefully) an aesthetically pleasing aural component in your multimedia mix. One of the chief and most powerful aspects of the narrator’s voice is the ability to tap into the emotions of your audience. Recent advances in neuroscience found that we learn better when an emotional connection is part and parcel of the educational situation. Intuitively we know this. Think of how much better you have done in your own studies when you liked the teacher. A good teacher is not only passionate about the material they present, but passionate about being able to share that information in a way that will make a difference to the student.

eLearning narrators are great teachers. They are adept at imbuing scripted material with emotion, even fairly dense or technically challenging text. If they aren’t SMEs themselves, they can read the material as if they were. And even slight and subtle emotion.

A great narrator gets through to your end user with empathy. By putting themselves in the learner’s seat while taking on the role of the knowledgeable peer, professor or character narrator, they make your words meaningful and relevant. Key to this is for the narration to live and sound live. Schooled in the technique of making what is essentially a soliloquy sound like a dialogue, narrators enhance learner engagement through the ever-present subtext of an invitation to explore. They help learners grasp what is valuable through inflection and tone. They keep the pace consistent and measured without sounding wooden or rote. They keep it new and in-the-now by grounding your script in reality. Turning your scenarios into real life problems, using a real-world tone, and effectively relating to the subject matter personally. Like the best teachers, during lesson time, your narrator is always “on,” is empowering and inspiring.

Instructional designers and project managers, change people’s lives for the better through the courses they create. You help them learn new skills, modify or alter undesirable behavioral patterns, and equip them with productivity hacks. Everyone on your team pitches in with their knowledge and ideas to collaboratively create a product that is both helpful and has lasting value. Your narrator understands the importance of the contribution they make in helping you make a difference in the world.

A former educator with a background in media and dramatic arts, Kim Handysides is an eLearning narration expert. Her voice has been on over 3 dozen award winning e-learning programs.

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