This is the first in a series of posts about the importance of excellent audio for excellent e-Learning script development.  This post concerns some tips for making a voice-over narrator’s job a bit easier and for helping you control your budget.

The primary objective in preparing an e-learning script for a narrator is enabling as smooth a read as possible. Every mistake on an e-learning script or every place where something is unclear will almost certainly result in a bobble by the narrator. Every bobble by the narrator extends the amount of time and increases the dollar amount that they and the audio studio will have to charge.  At a minimum of $300 per hour you can understand why we want to make the process as efficient as possible.  To that end we’re providing a few suggestions for you to keep in mind as you prepare the e-learning script.

  • Read it aloud to yourself. This is the best way of catching mistakes before they get to the narrator. An error we see frequently is the use of wrong words or missing words. Spell-check doesn’t pick them up and they’re hard to see when you are proofing silently.
  • Don’t use slashes: Replace them with the word you want used so the narrator does not have to stop and decide whether it should be “and”, “or”, “and-or” , “slash” or “stroke”.
  • Provide phonetic pronunciation for foreign words and proper nouns. We recently received a e-learning script with 7 Japanese words that were repeated frequently. Luckily the engineer was familiar with Japanese pronunciation and we were able to muddle through. Even so that omission probably cost 20-30 minutes of narrator and studio time.
  • Tell the narrator how acronyms are to be pronounced. For example, do you want SKU pronounced “S-K-U’ or “skew”?
  • Same for letter number combinations. Is BA62 to be pronounced “B-A-six-two” or “B-A-sixtytwo”?
  • Limit parenthetical comments. Recognize that a narrator has to use intonation to signal to the learner that “we’re taking a short side trip here”.  Keep them short and few. Parenthetical comments that are too long and too frequent can make a sentence very hard to read sensibly. If you feel that you need more than one in a sentence chances are you need a new sentence.
  • Use bulleted copy rather than long sentences with semi-colons. Here’s a recent example:

“These improvements can include reduction in material costs from the use of alternate materials or reduction in scrap; reduction in labor and service costs by locating service personnel in lower cost labor markets and increasing the use of labor saving technology, such as automated voice response systems; improvements in quality through programs such as Lean Six Sigma; reduction in inventory through improved forecasting and sharing of demand data throughout the supply chain; reduction in cycle time and lead time through just-in-time methodologies; increase in revenue through faster capital projects; introduction of new products and enhanced innovation from joint product development initiatives; and reduction in lifecycle and maintenance costs from preventive maintenance programs.”
This is a perfectly fine sentence but the narrator would have a much easier time of it if it were formatted like this:

These improvements can include reduction in material costs from the use of:

  • alternate materials or reduction in scrap
  • reduction in labor and service costs by locating service personnel in lower cost labor markets and increasing the use of labor saving technology, such as automated voice response systems
  • improvements in quality through programs such as Lean Six Sigma
  • reduction in inventory through improved forecasting and sharing of demand data throughout the supply chain
  • reduction in cycle time and lead time through just-in-time methodologies; increase in revenue through faster capital projects
  • introduction of new products and enhanced innovation from joint product development initiatives
  • and reduction in lifecycle and maintenance costs from preventive maintenance programs.

So there you have it. Simple tips that can literally save thousands of dollars over the course of a production year.

See how great script writing translates into great content:
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