Tip of the Day: Slow Down

New entrants in the voice over world tend to speak too fast.  I did.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I did it.  VO artists need to slow down.  But this tip isn’t just  for them.  It’s for anyone involved in creating or narrating e-Learning.  “Why?” you ask.  Here’s why:

How much is too much? 

We create e-Learning because we have information we want someone else to know and understand.  As a subject matter expert, we can get carried away and try to say too much.  You don’t want to overwhelm your audience.  So, slow down.  Focus on the important things.  Give your audience what they need to know now and refer them back to your website or other reference resources where they can find more detailed information.

How well does your audience speak English?  The demand for employees who are bilingual or even multi-lingual has more than doubled in the last five years.  English is not necessarily going to be their first language.  And one thing I learned listening to my sister, a linguist who spoke more than seven languages, is that a foreign language sounds fast!  Even if you’re familiar with the language. 

I grew up in a household that spoke Spanish frequently and pretty fluently for non-native speakers.  It was how my mother trumped dad’s playful counter-mandates.  My mother would tell us to do something.  My father would sew disobedience with a playful, “Oh, you don’t have to do that.  It’s fine.”  This was a great game!  Until mom told us in Spanish.  We… well I… very quickly learned that if I was told in Spanish, I had better do it, and do it now!  (My father didn’t speak Spanish, by the way.)

I always got teased for having a Spanish name, so when it came time to learn a foreign language in school, I took German.  (Yes, I was a rebellious teenager.)  When I was living at home, I understood a good deal of Spanish because it was always being spoken around me. But as my sisters, all older, moved away, I didn’t retain my knowledge. I can still follow a basic conversation, but it only takes one word that I don’t know to completely derail me and I lose the whole conversation trying to figure out that one word.  The same thing happens to your audience.

As the voice over artist, you can help with audience retention by speaking in a slower pace and speaking clearly. Don’t go overboard and punctuate each word or articulate deliberately. You still have to be conversation and engaging. English may be the most widely spoken language in the world, but over 1 billion people speak it as a secondary language.

Are they going to be familiar with your company‘s acronyms and jargon? Creators, step back to your first day of work and think about all the new words and terms you had to learn.  Companies develop their own language based on the industry they’re in and the brand they build.  Consider having your e-Learning reviewed by a test panel with the same demographics as your target audience to make sure the material you present is clear and engaging for your audience.  It will improve your results.

And speaking of results…

The good news is that the Research Institute of America found increased retention rates (25%-60%) in eLearning and compared to face-to-face training (8%-10%).  The bad news is that within one hour, please will have forgotten 50% of the information presented.  And that drops to 70% within 24 hours and 90% in a week. (Source: www.shiftelearning.com)

If that’s the case, why do we do this?!!  Here’s why:

So, the moral of today’s story:  Do it.  Do it well.  And slow down.

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