If you’ve been paying attention to best practices when it comes to eLearning, you know that the old “wall of words” followed by a basic multiple choice test is dead. Good riddance – new techniques and modern technology make it easier than ever to create an immersive, engaging learning experience for learners. Including audio – read by a human and not a computer generated voice – is one of the easiest and best ways to upgrade the eLearning experience. Of course, you do need to ensure that you’re capturing the best quality audio you can. How should you go about that? Here are six ways to improve your eLearning course audio quality.
NOTE: eLearning.net strongly recommends you engage a professional voice talent whenever possible. This makes a huge impact for a small cost. Check out our voice talents and drop us a line for a quote.
Prepare Your Voiceover Narration Script for elearning audio recording
It goes without saying, but just in case – do not, under any circumstances, record your narration “off the cuff”. Read from a prepared script that includes everything you want to say, exactly how you want to say it. Follow these rules when writing an eLearning narration script:
- Read it aloud before recording: Regardless of whether you will read the script or have it read by a professional voiceover artist, read the script out loud several times before recording. You will uncover tricky spots that are difficult to read. This allows you the opportunity to either practice those to perfection or to re-write them.
- Line Spacing: Use paragraph formatting of 1.5 to space sentence lines.
- Font Style and Size: Currier font at 12 points is generally the industry standard.
- Page Breaks: When possible, do not allow a sentence to break across a page. If you are reading from a printed script, you’ll need a little time to turn the page. This may interrupt your flow and your page turning may be picked up by the mic.
- Pronunciation: Be sure to confirm how industry specific terms and acronyms are supposed to be pronounced. For example: is “AIMS” supposed to be read as “A-I-M-S” or as the word “aims”?
- Use a Script Template: Download our free voiceover script template to help you with the above key points and more.
Speak as Naturally as Possible
One of the most important tips has nothing to do with audio volume or recording quality. Rather, it’s more about how your listeners perceive the narration. If your narrator reads all the words in the script, it comes across as robotic and faked. Humans use contractions, omit words, and tighten up text so that it flows more naturally. We do this unconsciously, but if your narrator is being forced to read each individual word in the script, it will put off your listeners.
In addition to omitting words from the script for brevity, it also means you need to use a conversational tone of voice. Rather than sounding formal or robotic, your narrator needs to speak directly to the learner. This will help forge a stronger connection with the learner, and will also help hold their interest.
Recording Environment Matters
If you’re recording your own audio instead of outsourcing it, you’ll need to pay close attention to the environment in which you do your recording. While chances are good that you will not choose to invest in a professional-quality recording studio, you can still take some cues from them. Make sure the environment is quiet and secluded. Never try to record in an area where there’s a lot of foot traffic, or where surrounding conversations might make it into the audio. Remember that your editing software will only be able to do so much to remove background noise.
Audio Recording Equipment Matters, Too
If your audio quality suffers, your learners’ experience will suffer as well. The equipment you use has a great deal to do with the final product. A low-quality microphone might randomly drop out, or there could be unwanted noises included. Make sure you have a relatively decent mic for recording and that you’re using the correct software. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to record straight to a computer or a mobile device that also has the ability import files directly to the computer. It’s important that you do not use the built-in microphone on your mobile device or laptop. While these are fine for creating voice notes or memos that only you will hear, they’re not even remotely up to the task of creating audio for eLearning.
Listen to the Audio
Once you have recorded your audio, go back and listen to it again. Use audio editing software to cut, snip, rearrange, and refine your recording – and then listen to it again. Yes, you’ll invest some time doing this, but it will pay in the form of higher quality audio for your eLearning and a better overall learner experience. I also recommend that you read the script aloud as you listen to the playback. Sometimes when you read along with audio (without speaking aloud) you read the words you hear. However, when you are reading aloud you will notice more readily words that may be slightly off and need to be re-recorded.
With good audio, you’re one step closer to providing your learners with the tools they need to forge ahead and find success. If you’re not able to create audio of sufficient quality, don’t be afraid to outsource the job to professionals. And one final note – audio should be included throughout the entire course, or not at all. Learners find it confusing when some pages include audio and then are presented with a screen with no audio. The user’s first reaction is to think something went wrong in the course. Even just a little audio like, “Review the key points on the screen, then click next,” is better than simply leaving a text screen without audio.