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How to Use Voice Over Effectively in eLearning

“Voiceover is inclusive and resonates with our auditory learners. We must have it in our eLearning module.” (Play big loud INCORRECT quiz noise). I mean, let me explain another point of view…

We do not believe voice over is another level of “engagement” for your eLearning solutions.

A big no, no is having the voice over read exactly what is happening on the screen and timing things to appear as it narrates. What if your learner doesn’t have access to audio (e.g. they’ve misplaced their AirPods)? How will they know that the narration is playing or when the screen is finished? This advice should be applied to narration that shares information that is different to the text on screen. That content may never be heard.
Rather than extra “engagement”, let’s call it cognitive overload.
Imagine you’re driving in an area you’re not familiar with and your navigation guides you while your passenger continues to tell a story (a.k.a. learning a new topic, the key content and voice over). You’re not really engaged in the story because you’re trying to hear the GPS and pay attention to the road. In fact, nothing is getting your full attention and being done effectively.
We believe better eLearning solutions are designed to consider that the learner may not have access to audio.
However, there are times when voice over adds value. Here are 5 examples:

1.     For Conversations.
Such as a one on one meeting, a coaching session or when someone talks to you. Consider what a coach, customer or manager would say and use this to set the context.
Example 1: A performance conversation. There are certain queues in a voice that a person should listen to as a manager or leader of people and also the way that it’s said (tone and intonation). If you are trying to teach someone how to do that more effectively, we need to help them experience it and that’s why voice over adds value here.

Example 2: Where the role of the learner is based on voice. For example, call center workers. All they hear are voices on the other end of the phone. Activities may include a phone call where the learner must make decisions based on what they hear their customer say.

2.     To Create an Experience.
Example 1: A module on anxiety could allow the learner to listen to voices in their head. This experience could demonstrate how an anxious person may be feeling so that others can understand what they are going through in order to better help them.

Example 2: Emotions are hard to convey in text. I’m sure you’ve received some text messages and you don’t know if those capital letters are somebody shouting or some other emotion. What if you used voice over instead to create the emotion and experience? Picture a doctor having to communicate a message to emotional family members that talk over each other while standing in a noisy waiting room.

3.     For Accessibility and Usability.
Consider those who need audio aids or that they might be sitting on the bus and have forgotten their earphones. This could take the form of a transcript or captions.

4.     When Building Credibility and Trust.
For example, a message from the CEO to the organisation. People will be grateful that they are sending them a more personal communication and also that it’s important, as time and effort has been put into this approach.

5.     For Animations.
Sometimes you might have a really complex process diagram or a model that you are trying to explain. We suggest having voice over to explain through an animation rather than putting text on the screen. This way the person can concentrate on a specific area that is being spoken about in the voice over.

No doubt there are other great uses for voice over, which we’d love you to share in the comments.

We hope that this adds value to what you are trying to achieve in your eLearning solutions. Please share this article and inspire others.

A big shout-out to our favourite voice over artist, Teresa Lim. You’ll always be our number 1.
Have a great day and thanks for reading. :)

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