What a Strange Title for a Blog Post
I know it is, but it best describes what you’re about to read. My e-learning colleague in Chicago, IL, Tricia Ransom, has asked me a few audio narration questions that many of you also ask. She gave me her permission to blog about her questions and my answers based on my experience. I also hope our e-learning community will share their experience with Tricia as well. We all can learn from each other, so please write us a comment in the Comments section.
Tricia and her team are going to hire professional voice over talent to record the audio narration for Tricia’s e-learning course.
Tricia wants to follow a proven project workflow for collaborating with this off-site voice actor. Let’s take a look at Tricia’s four questions and my answers based on what I’ve learned from my projects. Again, we both welcome your contributions!
Q1. What Is the Best Way to Provide a Script? Per slide, per module, per entire course?
A1. My answer is “that depends”. If you hire a voice over talent who has experience with e-learning narration, they may already have a workflow they prefer. Feel free to ask that talent for his/her preference.
Generally, I try and provide the voice talent with the entire “story”. (Effective e-learning tells the business story.) If you have a course curriculum made up of several modules, and if you’re going to work with the same voice talent throughout the curriculum, give the talent the entire course script. If the later modules’ scripts are still in draft mode or under revision, then give the voice talent an outline of the entire course. As a voice talent myself, I like to know where the content is starting and where it ends, meaning, I like knowing up front what’s in Module One through to the final module.
Why? Because audio narration involves voice acting. Voice talent seek to know, understand, and internalize the story, the business story your e-learning course will tell. They will then communicate your story through their tone of voice, phrasing, etc.
So, Tricia, ask the voice talent you hire what they prefer: module by module, or the entire course. Make sure your script template is easy to read, and that the narration script section has 1.5 line spaces between each line of text and font that’s 14 points at least. Provide the script in a Word file instead of as a PDF.
Q2. Should we have them record it and send us back files per slide? If so, have you found an easy naming convention?
A2. Again, my answer is “that depends” for this question as well. It’s important to first think through your project workflow. What’s my workflow? I record a module in one recording session. Then, if I’m the audio editor/producer as well, I go through the recorded narration and save each screen’s narration as a separate audio file. In past projects, I used to name the file the same number as the screen’s number. That system can work just fine. If you move or change a screen, remember to renumber all of the subsequent audio files. That can be a pain and a waste of time.
For one project, I named the individual audio files with the first three-to-four words of the screen’s first sentence. That way, if the screen or it’s narration is changed by the SMEs, I don’t have to go through and rename the rest of the audio files in the audio library. That was a small project.
On one project we named the files by Course, Module, and Page (Screen) number:
C2M3P1 = Course 2, Module 3, Page (or Screen) 1.
Q3. What are some of the pitfalls you’ve encountered? Does it help to have one of the IDs there while they are narrating?
A3. I haven’t had any designers with me while narrating. Either I was the ID and the voice talent, or our Project Manager was the one who did a quality check of the hired talent’s audio narration during production. Will it help to be present while the voice talent records the narration? I can’t answer that question from personal experience, but I know that marketing clients often are at recording sessions for radio or TV commercials.
A4. The community is here for you, Tricia. Can you assist Tricia? Here’s her contact information:
Home Page: http://flavors.me/TriciaRansom
Her blog: patriciaransom.wordress.com