3 Tips To Write An eLearning Narrative Script For Listeners' Ears
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How To Write An eLearning Narrative Script For Listeners' Ears

Collaborating with eLearning developers over the last 10 years, I’ve studied how eLearning course narratives are -or are not- fully utilized as a dramatic device. An eLearning narrative ‘heard’ by the course participant can augment the strength of the course modules as well as learning retention. Think of movies or TV shows you've watched where there was bad dialog, and it turns you off because it feels false. Avoid that mistake in your eLearning course!

Here are simple, bite-sized tactics that I capsulized for your benefit. Use them to customize and create a tangible, supportive, and realistic eLearning narrative for the course participant and increase impact for your client.

1. Define The Course Participant Perspective

  • Who is the course participant? What is their job title, role in the organization, and level of experience?
  • What mindset will they have when taking the course? Are they generally open or closed to it? Is it required, or optional? Do they need it for their advancement?
  • What tone will engage them, peak their interest and attentiveness more? Are they more interested to hear from a peer, or a higher up, or a Subject Matter Expert (SME)?
  • What speed of speaking is the right pace? Normal is about 125 words per minute. Is this an international so you might slow down? Or young participants, so you can speed up?

Often these factors are part of the due diligence of creating the nuts and bolts of a course, and sometimes the narrative is more of a top-down 'you must listen to this' perspective. Consider adjusting your narrative script with vocabulary, tone, and pacing to serve the overall course goals and objectives, and specifically engaging the course participant. Use their role, their mindset, a specific tone and targeted pacing to engage them even more.

2. Define Tone With “Who Is Talking” And “To Whom”

General examples of tone can be: Strong and Confident, Wise; Caring and Conversational, Attentive; Conversational and lighthearted, fun; Dry and professional, Clinical. This is the overall tone for a narrative, but it's a little empty if you really want to have more impact because this doesn't define both the narrator and the course participant.

Define it further: Specify who is the narrator, what is their role, in relation to the course participant. This specificity will create tangible context for the narrative.

For example, is this a co-worker teaching a new process to her experienced peers, or differently, is she showing a new person the ropes? Is this Subject Matter Expert sharing information to peers, or differently, to top management?

Here are specific, tangible examples that provide much more context than generic tone:

  • A foster care Social Worker, teaching new social workers…
  • Human Resources manager reinforcing safety standards to engineers…
  • A Retail Buyer teaching a new inventory and sales system to peers…

3. Define The Narrator's Proximity To The Course Participant

Most courses never address where the narrator's voice is, relative to the course participant. In fact, a majority of courses place the narrator figuratively "sitting next to" the course participant because often the participant is listening with headphones or ear buds or on a personal device while taking the course.

Look for an opportunity to create impact by changing that pattern. For a moment, compare these styles of communication: Whispering or Low Talking, vs Talking at a cubicle one-to-one, vs Presenting to a room of people. A voice actor can move further or closer to the microphone to recreate these styles. We call that 'proximity'.

Can the narrator can change proximity to create poignant moments for participants? A whisper or an ‘aside’ at the right time, highlighting importance? It's like an audible 'leaning in'. Or a 'lean back' with slightly increased volume to make it 'bigger', cheer someone on or celebrate?

Used sparingly = high impact.

Tips For Conversational Writing

Even if you cannot do all of the above, please do make your narrative pleasant for the ears by making it conversational in flow since it will be spoken aloud and recorded. At the least, when possible:

  • Use informal language.
  • Use contractions (isn't, there's, etc.).
  • Put lists in conversational sentences with commas.
  • Varied and shorter sentences — avoid complicated, or long sentences.

As a trained actor, I create narrative ‘worlds’ to contribute to successful eLearning projects. Thank you for taking the time to review these ideas, and please reply back with your inspired thoughts and advice.

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