Sitting through a narrated training video can be about as engaging as pulling weeds. Sure, you gotta do it but, ugh.
"I know thee boredom, and thy name is e-learning. " But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be. It’s our job as e-learning narrators to bring the script to life and engage the audience. But how? Simple, by becoming a teacher.
Oh Captain my Captain
We’ve all had at least one teacher in our academic life that brought out the best in us. One that we connected with and remember. Recently, during a conversation with one of my favorite high school teachers, Gale Consler, (affectionately referred to as "Mrs. C" to her English Honors students), I received some invaluable advice on how to create that special teacher/student connection. E-learning and in-class teaching have very close parallels. Who better to clarify that than someone who has been teaching and engaging students for more than 40 years. Mrs. C reminded me about fundamental principles that are universal to effective teaching. If you employ these strategies of teaching when you are narrating, you will captivate your listener too, and book more work.
Come as you are
Beyond the absolute delight of our conversation, the constructive lessons became apparent very quickly. First of which was “You have to remember to be who you are”. She went on to say “People can see through phoniness very quickly”. In e-learning we often want to sound pretty, it’s easy to put on a pretty voice and try to be as smooth as possible. We hope this gives us an aura of authority, but really it comes across as disingenuous. E-Learning scripts demand you to be real and sincere. They only work when you are honest and connected to the material. If you make the extra effort to be yourself and speak from a place of honesty, you will find you are able to engage your audience easier.
Never lower the bar
I asked Mrs. C what is the one thing that makes a good teacher. Without hesitation, she answered “High expectations”. She shared with me that “There were many students that didn’t like me very much, I pushed them”. When you are reading an e-learning script, you need to remember that your interpretation should be based on expecting the best from your audience. If you imagine an engaged and inquisitive listener, you will read in a way that is more of a conversation than a monologue. According to Mrs. C, “You have to have a conversation when teaching”. She should know.
“I don’t know if this helps, but your posture and physical presence are very important in the classroom”. Believe it or not, posture and physicality play a huge role while reading a script. There is energy in your words when you read. That energy responds to how you hold yourself in the booth. It responds to your posture, physical gestures, and even how you are standing or sitting. “You have to care about what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with”. She goes on to add, “If you’re not invested that’s going to come thru one way or another”. Be physically involved with the copy and that caring will come across in your recording.
Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.
If you really care about the listener, make the effort to no matter the subject. According to Mrs. C, “You have to be really sincere in what you’re doing for the message to come through, even if it’s teaching apostrophes”. Sincerity comes from simplicity and an understanding of the material. Too much inflection will come across as condescending or make you sound like a used car salesman. “The less sugar you put on things, the better you are”. Absolutely.
The bottom line is to treat your E-Learning script like you are teaching someone right in front of you. Become a teacher and you will be able to tell the story of the copy in a way that captivates and connects to your audience. I know I’m forever grateful to Mrs. C for inspiring me to become a teacher myself. Look to the teachers that influenced you and emulate that BOSS spirit in your next read.
Much love and Keep on rockin' your biz.
About the Author: Anne Ganguzza is a full-time voice talent and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voice over and business skills - including VO demo training and production. She specializes in Conversational Commercial and Narration styles, including Corporate, E-Learning, Technology, Healthcare - Medical, Telephony, and On-Hold. Located in Orange County, CA, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students in person and via Skype, ipDTL or Zoom.