Studio microphone and pop shield on mic stand against gray background

Studio microphone and pop shield on mic stand

If you are designing and developing eLearning, you are most likely going to need voice-over work. As psychologist Richard Mayer points out in his book, Multimedia Learning, combining narration with visuals will help to increase learning and long-term retention of content.

Here are some key principles related to creating multimedia content that Mayer shares:

  1. Redundancy Principle – People learn better from graphics and narration than from graphics, narration, and on-screen text.
  2. Modality Principle – People learn better from graphics and narrations than from animation and on-screen text.
  3. Multimedia Principle – People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.
  4. Personalization Principle – People learn better from multimedia lessons when words are in conversational style rather than formal style.
  5. Voice Principle – People learn better when the narration in multimedia lessons is in a friendly human voice, rather than a machine voice.

Using professional voice-over is expensive and time consuming, so many projects opt to use “in house” voices. Oftentimes, the subject matter experts record audio themselves. Here are some tips for creating great voice-over.

  1. Start with a Script – Before you begin, write a complete script and have it edited. It is not enough to list speaking points, and assume the narrator can record it “off the cuff.” Two hundred words typically equals 1 minute of produced audio, so if you are trying to keep the multimedia clip short, you may need to trim the script.
  2. Subject Matter – Know your subject matter and any idiosyncrasies that may be involved in the narration. Consider including phonetical spellings of words that may be difficult to pronounce if the narrator is not a subject matter expert. For example, someone who is recording a world history presentation will most likely not know the correct pronunciation for Hagia Sophia or hegemony.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice – Be sure that the narrator practices the script aloud before recording it. Any words that are difficult to pronounce (e.g. sixthanemonecolonelruralWorcestershire) should be practiced or changed.
  4. Environment – Choose the best possible environment for recording the audio and be sure to do a sample test ahead of time.  Try to minimize any external noises, such as air conditioners, fans, cars, computers, etc.
  5. Technology – Even if you don’t have an expensive microphone, consider using a simple pop filter to help reduce the popping sounds of words that start with “p” or “b”, or the hissing noise that comes with “s”. There are many free audio recording tools on the market that can be used to record voice-over, but Audacity is our favorite one. We also recommend to compress the file to an .mp3 format. Even though .wav files are much higher sound quality (which is not necessary for most eLearning courses), they can potentially slow down the bandwidth.