If you’re writing eLearning voice over scripts you know that writing for the spoken word is different from writing in a “regular” linear fashion. We speak less formally than written scripted words. We don’t pause before we list things (as is often written in bulleted eLearning listicles) and we always use conjunction (in fact, sometimes overuse them). Check out my downloadable pictogram for eLearning scriptwriters.
As an eLearning voice over artist, you know it’s essential to continually hone your craft, to prepare for upcoming voice work. While there are many commercial script examples to draw from online, it can be difficult to find cohesive samples of eLearning scripts.
Whether it’s due to many scripts being subject to NDA’s, or the fact that they are mostly internal documents and may contain proprietary information, your need to be ready for this kind of voice over work remains. While samples might be scarce, and more eLearning scriptwriters are becoming more creative (incorporating gamification, imaginative characters, and narrator roles) it’s crucial for voice over artists to understand the underlying format of an e-Learning script and the different ways to make it come alive.
Elements of eLearning Voice Over Scripts
Whether you’re the scriptwriter or the script reader, ask yourself the purpose of the program and what kind of knowledge is being presented. Is it an interactive experience or a show and tell? A how-to video or online course? Your answer might seem like an endgame result, but all of these factors contribute to how a script is written – and self (or otherwise) directed.
From the voice over perspective, a good way to start is by familiarizing yourself with the hallmarks of eLearning voice over scripts. While there isn’t an across the board template, many, if not most e-Learning scripts adhere to the following elements:
- Thesis or Purpose
- History or Context
- Body of Knowledge
- Interactive Elements
- Knowledge Testing
Intent: In my 25+ years of narrating eLearning scripts weekly, I’ve noticed that all eLearning programs can be broken down into two chief purposes. The content is either centered on the transfer of knowledge or changing behavior. Your vocal delivery will vary depending on the program’s purpose. Understanding this before you begin reading (or writing) the script informs your approach.
Thesis: The course introduction and statement of purpose is essentially the place where the thesis or reason for the course is revealed. It sets the tone for the course and tells you what you can hope to come away with from it. When coaching another voice over actor on how to tackle this genre, I always advise them to suss out why this course was made. What unmet need is it fulfilling and why is it important. This brings sympathy for the learner and understanding of the position of the course creator to the forefront.
History or Context: A continuation of the thesis, this section shares the significance of the information being presented. Is it a carried tradition, work-culture imperative, or new innovation? It may mention things that have worked/or not worked in the past that need modification. This insight helps the learner better understand the significance of the program and the need for change or importance of the subject matter being shared.
Body of Knowledge: This is where the learning goes on and serves as the bulk of the eLearning script. This is chiefly the knowledge being passed down and/or what procedures the listener needs to learn. It is usually shared in a step-wise approach. Each section builds on the foundation laid by the previous section. Within this there may be:
Interactive Elements: Drag and drop puzzles, true or false, multiple choice answers, or even a click next button. These are features usually coded into the e-Learning software, but as a voice over artist, you’ll be given script prompts to narrate these elements.
Games: They may be throughout the whole script, interspersed or added in at an editing level, but games are a huge component to e-Learning that help to keep students engaged with the lesson. Knowledge
Stories: Often woven through the body of knowledge being shared, stories or scenarios give students the opportunity to see the source material they’ve just learned in action and may be invited to answer questions about it.
Homework, Test, or Certification: Whether the eLearning course is a simple homework module for a high school science class, a knowledge check to be completed at home following an interactive course or an in-person seminar, or a course to take as part of employment standards, most iterations of e-Learning involve a test or certification of some kind. Even those that are just-for-fun (like an online course in water-color technique or how to make your own music videos) will have an assignment or “homework” element for the student to test out their newly acquired skills.
Sample e-Learning Voice Over Script
Here’s a quick practice script to give you a rough idea of what to expect in an eLearning course module.
Lead-in: Hey there, welcome to the Windsor Online Institute for Commercial Photography, we’re glad to see you’ve taken an interest in commercial photography and could join us to learn more about it. We’ve been instructing students since 2014 and offer full accreditation in our courses.
Formulated with a practical approach in mind, this course was developed to help you learn the basics of commercial photography and to impart an introductory knowledge of how to apply it.
Content Outline: Throughout this introductory module, you’ll learn about the basics of lighting, the type of equipment you’ll need, and finally, how to use that equipment in order to control your subject’s lighting. It should take about 25 minutes.
At the end, you’ll be tested on your knowledge before you can proceed to the next module in the series.
Purpose: This online course was produced as part of a series by the Windsor Online Institute for Commercial Photography(WOIC) to make learning about photography simple and fun. By the end of the first volume, you should have a comprehensive understanding of how to incorporate the basics of commercial photography into your existing skillset and apply it practically.
Learning Goals: This module has been broken into three parts. Take your time with each component as you will be tested at the end to validate your retention of the subject matter.
There is no time limit for this course, so if you want to review any of the content you’re welcome to toggle back and forth, through the various slides and program elements to reexamine them.
Present Topics: Part A of this module will seek to explore the basics of lighting for commercial photography and part B will go over the different types of lighting equipment needed for a studio setup. Finally, part C will cover how to actually use this equipment to control your lighting for a commercial shoot.
Part A: Light casts shadows – it’s unavoidable. Ask any sundial and they’ll probably tell you the same.
If an object is in direct sunlight, you can almost guarantee that there will always be an accompanying shade to contend with. Knowing how to mitigate this effect is what sets commercial photographers apart from someone with a good camera and white walls.
Part B: When you think of photography, your mind probably goes straight to crisp black and white photos and expensive cameras with massive lenses, but there’s a lot more to it than you’d probably realize.
Ring lights, umbrellas, and backdrops; are all unseen, but invaluable tools for any commercial photographer worth their salt. But the list doesn’t stop there. Over this portion of the module, you’ll learn about the different kinds of lighting equipment you’ll need just to get started as a commercial photographer.
Part C: Now that you’ve gone through the first two sections of this module, it’s time to put them to use. By using an umbrella to diffuse the lighting on your subject, you can take control over potential shadows and produce much sharper, professional images.
Summary & Test: You’ve reached the end of this module. You now have a better understanding of the basics of lighting for commercial photography, it’s time to examine what you’ve learned today. Take this opportunity to go back and revisit any portion in the module before proceeding to the practical knowledge test.