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Tips for Recording Audio Narration

Convergence - Wed, 2014-06-25 14:44

Many staff and faculty take advantage of the eLearning Studio, especially the Articulate Studio software, to get outside of the traditional lecture and flip their classroom with some audio narration. Employing this type of teaching model is beneficial for both faculty and students, however most folks don’t anticipate how challenging designing for online delivery can be. Use the following tips to help you think through how to best include audio narration in your next CLE course.

The number one piece of advice the Learning Technologies Group (LTG) gives to faculty and staff who are including audio narration is to write and practice reading a script before coming to the eLearning Studio to do their recording (and maybe even before you create your slideshow!).

Writing text for a learner to read is a lot different than writing text that will be listened to. A voiceover script is like a conversation with your learners, so write with listening in mind and give your learners the feeling that you are actually talking to each student personally.

Be sure to include transitional statements when moving from one topic to another. Phrases like “Now that we have a better understanding of [insert topic], let’s look at how to apply [insert next topic] or “Let’s shift gears to discuss [insert next topic]” help in carrying the learner along with you as you talk through the content.

Keep your script sentences short, simple, and direct. This will require some editing after your initial writing. When reviewing, first, take a look at the text at the paragraph level and cut out the sentences that aren’t really saying very much. Then, go to the sentence level and cut out the unnecessary words. You’ll probably find many ways to reduce the words on the page, but keep the content in tact.

Ideally, a script shouldn’t match the text learners see the screen verbatim. People read much faster than narration can play and this may be frustrating for the learner. This is a great opportunity to determine if your slides are visually appealing and pithy enough. Take advantage of the two different modes of delivery (audio narration and visual text) and deliver each piece of content in the mode that makes the most sense. (Check out the other UCSF Learning Technologies blog The Better Presenter for more tips on this.)

Always read your script out loud when you review it. Ask yourself is this how people really talk about this topic? Well designed courses reflect reality. Because of that, try to keep your writing and delivery as honest as possible. Your learners will appreciate it!

As you can see below, in Articulate Presenter, the speaker notes that you add to your PowerPoint slides appear for you along the side of the screen when you record narration in the software. Take advantage of this feature and copy the script for each slide into PowerPoint!

Additional spacing makes your script easier to read. Add a hard return between each sentence of your script. Also, mark the places in your script where you’ll want to add a natural pause or an inflection in your voice for emphasis. Indicate pauses with the word “pause” in brackets and indicate emphasized words with bold or italicized text.

When you’re sitting in the Studio about to start your recording, it’s best practice to wait one or two seconds from clicking the record button to beginning to speak. This will go a long way for the learner who’ll be listening to the slides back to back. Instead of receiving the information rapid fire, this gives them a short time to process the content on the slide before the narration begins. It’s also a good idea to wait a second or two when you’re finished speaking to stop the recording, especially if you or someone else will be editing your audio files.

Although most of us are neither professional actors nor voice over talent, it still is worth trying to add in differences in tone and inflection to make it clear why the content is important to the learners. Think about the kind of attitude you would want to hear when listening to a recording. Most eLearning developers and scriptwriters encourage the use of an informal, friendly tone in the delivery of the content. Help learners make a connection with you and stay engaged in the content. Listen to examples of well-done narration for online Learning by voice-over artists.*

Lastly, be open to rewriting the script as you’re recording or even after you think you’re done! You may decide something should be reworded, deleted, or added in while you’re in the Studio. And that’s OK, too! Ad-libbing helps with enhancing the natural flow of the conversation and makes for a more engaging course experience.

To learn more about the audio, video, and multimedia software and equipment available to you as a part of the UCSF community, check out the Multimedia Support Center or contact the Learning Technologies Group!

Do you have any tips or tricks for audio narration or script writing that you’d like to share? Please write your comments below!

*Please note the LTG has never worked with this artist and therefore, are not specifically recommending working with her.

Headset Image Credit: Microsoft Office



Categories: Convergence

5 Questions with Dr. Daniel Lowenstein

The Better Presenter - Mon, 2013-07-29 08:30

In the previous post, we were introduced to Dr. Daniel Lowenstein and his “Last Lecture” presentation, which was both powerful and inspiring. Shortly after writing the post, Dr. Lowenstein contacted me, and we had an interesting discussion about his experience preparing for, and delivering that presentation.

I have always wanted to incorporate the voices of the instructors, students, and staff at UCSF, who work in the trenches and present or attend presentations on a daily basis. This post marks the beginning of a new series that will feature interviews of those people. I hope you enjoy the first episode of “5 Questions!”

5 Questions with Dr. Lowenstein

Bonus track: The Basement People

The full version of the original presentation has recently been uploaded to the UCSF Public Relations YouTube channel, so please head over there to watch the video, like it, and leave your comments!

If you have any ideas about who the next 5 Questions interviewee should be, please contact me or leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Categories: Better Presenter

Top 5 Lessons Learned from The Last Lecture

The Better Presenter - Thu, 2013-05-16 12:58

Powerful. Inspirational. Emotionally moving.

Those are the words that best describe Dr. Daniel Lowenstein’s “The Last Lecture” presentation, delivered to a packed house in Cole Hall on April 25th. The Last Lecture is an annual lecture series hosted by a UCSF professional school government group (and inspired by the original last lecture), in which the presenter is hand-picked by students and asked to respond to the question, ”If you had but one lecture to give, what would you say?” Dr. Daniel Lowenstein, epilepsy specialist and director of the UCSF Epilepsy Center, did not disappoint. In fact, I can say with confidence that he delivered one of the best presentations that I have attended.

Rather than attempt to paraphrase his words, or provide a Cliff Notes version that doesn’t do his presentation justice, I will instead encourage you to watch the video recording of his presentation. The video is an hour in length, and if you have any interest in becoming a better presenter yourself, it is a must-watch. After the jump, we’ll explore my top “top 5 lessons learned” from Dr. Lowenstein’s presentation.

Last Lecture – Top 5 Lessons Learned:

  1. “PowerPoint” is still boring. Dr. Lowenstein’s projected slide show was not typical PowerPoint. It did not consist of any bullet points, familiar and boring templates, or images “borrowed” from a last minute Google image search. Instead, used images from his own collection, and Prezi to build a canvas of images that moved in all directions, expanding, contracting and rotating to craft his message. The resulting slide show was personal, meaningful and most importantly, relatable.
  2. Story telling is the secret to success. When I first began studying the art of presenting, the idea of incorporating storytelling into a presentation was an elusive one. I am now convinced that storytelling is the secret to transforming a good presentation, into a great presentation. It is the glue that holds all of the elements of your presentation together, as well as the glitter that makes it shine. Dr. Lowenstein’s entire presentation was crafted into a story, the setting of which was established right from the beginning and illustrated by his first content slide. There were also chapters within the story, the most memorable of which for me was the Justice segment of his presentation, and his depiction of The Basement People. He didn’t begin by pointing out the original members of the UCSF Black Caucus that were in the audience, as most presenters would have done. Instead, he gradually painted a picture for us, so we could imagine what it was like to be a minority at UCSF over 50 years ago. He described their struggles in detail, and gave us time to relate, and even pointed out the fact that they had met in that very hall where we all sat. He didn’t reveal their presence until the end of the chapter, creating a crescendo of emotion, and the moment brought tears to the eyes of many audience members.
  3. Vulnerability equals trust. If you want your audience to believe in your message, you must first give them a reason to believe in you. And one of the most effective ways to make that happen is to share your vulnerabilities. In the eyes of the audience, this makes the presenter human, and it creates a bond between both parties. No one wants to listen to a sales-pitch presentation. Instead, they want the whole story with the ups and downs, so they can decide how we feel about it on their own terms. Just be sure to share vulnerabilities that relate to the subject of the presentation, because you’re going for empathy, not sympathy (which could have a negative effect). Dr. Lowenstein, when talking about Joy and Sorrow, shared one of his deepest personal sorrows, which was the unexpected passing of his son. In contrast, he shared a touching moment with his wife, expressing his love for her, right in front of the whole audience. These moments worked perfectly in the presentation because they were genuine, and they gave the audience a deeper understanding of Dr. Lowenstein.
  4. Don’t forget humor. No matter how serious, no matter how technical, there is a place in your presentation for a little humor. It can be used to lighten a heavy moment, open closed minds, and bring everyone in a room together (even if your audience members have very different backgrounds). Amidst Dr. Lowenstein’s presentation were timely moments of humor that seemed to come naturally from his personality. And hey, who doesn’t like a good male-patterened-baldness joke, anyway?! But seriously, if you can laugh at yourself, the audience has no excuse to not laugh along with you. There are two keys to using humor in your presentation; (1) it should be relevant to the current topic or story, and (2) it can’t be forced. If you’re not good at telling jokes, then try another form of humor!
  5. Present on your passions. As a presenter, your goal is simple – to instill in the audience an understanding of your message, and a belief in you. If you give them the impression, even for a moment, that you don’t believe in yourself or the message you’re presenting, you’re a dead man walking (or presenting) in the audience’s eyes. If you choose topics that you are passionate about, however, you will never have this problem. You may think it was easy for Dr. Lowenstein’s to be passionate about his presentation, because his task was, in essence, to present about his life’s passions… but I can assure you, it’s not easy to talk about your own life in front of an audience. In contrast, imagine that you have to give a presentation on, say, your department’s new accounting policies. To make matters worse, imagine that your audience is being forced to attend. What do you do? Surely, there is no passion to be found in accounting policy, is there?! Well, actually, there is, if you take the right angle. For example, does this new accounting policy save the department time, or money? And then, can that saved time and money be applied towards more constructive, or creative tasks that your coworkers actually want to do? If so, and you frame the presentation in a positive light, the audience will listen.

To top it all off, Dr. Lowenstein spent the last few minutes of his presentation reviewing each of the 4 segments of his talk, and then related it all back to a single, clear message. That, my friends, is an example of storytelling 101, so I hope you were talking notes!

Continue on to part 2 of this post, where I interview Dr. Lowenstein about his experiences preparing for and delivering the Last Lecture presentation!

If you also found inspiration in Dr. Lowenstein’s presentation, please share your thoughts below, and I’ll see you at next year’s “Last Lecturer” event.

Categories: Better Presenter
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