eLearning best practices: Your voice

Your IT project will likely require training, so if you are going to deliver it, why not offer it online so users can take on-demand courses? In practice, this sounds pretty simple, but in reality, there is a lot of work that goes into producing high-quality eLearning courses. Want to know why most people don’t finish a training course? Unfortunately, it is the trainer.
[tg_youtube video_id=”S-4SChWIqkg”]

You, disrupted

Whether you deliver or receive training, you know that a good trainer breaks the courseware into small modules. Each module usually takes between 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how much work is involved.

When you deliver eLearning training, you have to think smaller. You create short activities that last three to six minutes in length. Sure, some might be a little longer or shorter, but in general, most human beings can only absorb a specific topic in three-to-six minute chunks when taking online courses.

Creating these little three-to-six minute videos is a lot of work. In fact, it can take one to two hours to create a single three-to-six minute video. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

  • The audio did not record properly.
  • There was a noise or distraction in the background.
  • The application crashed.
  • You forgot to mention an important topic.
  • You stuttered.
  • You felt the script was unclear and had to rewrite it.
  • Your demo scenario failed.
  • And the list goes on …

I bring all this up because you can get frustrated pretty quickly by the process. I cannot count the times I almost finished a perfect recording only to have a distraction occur, and I let out some choice words that shall not be mentioned in this article. My mouth would be full of soap if my mother heard the choice words I’ve used after a botched recording.

The point is, you get disrupted when creating the training videos and it can become difficult to get over it. The person taking the training does not care about any of this, so they will expect you to be a calm, authoritative figure. Trust me; it can be very difficult to stay positive and upbeat after going through dozens of rounds, repeating yourself each time.

Common vocal mistakes

As I mentioned in the previous section, it is important to deliver your training with an authoritative voice. That does not mean you are talking down to the learner or yelling, but it does say that you have to be heard as the experienced trainer, not the person who is unsure of what they are saying.

Here is how to avoid making common mistakes in your eLearning course:

  • Do not speak away from the microphone. Never turn your head or lean back in your chair while talking. The learner will interpret you as disinterested in teaching the lesson. If you need to take a break, take it, but do not do so while delivering the training.
  • Keep a calm, neutral tone. When you record your training, your voice should not go from a high-pitched, forceful tone to a low-pitched I’m-tired tone. Keep your voice even throughout every lesson.
  • Keep an average distance from your mic. Never sit down with the mic inches from your mouth in one session and a foot away from it the next session. The volume of your voice must remain consistent. Find what works for you and stick with it.
  • Practice your breathing. Just like Rihanna says, breathe in and breathe out. Before every single lesson, even if I am on my 12th revision, I always take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out. When talking, I actively avoid quick, shallow breaths between words. If you are taking shallow breaths between words, try to keep them quiet to avoid the learner hearing you.

The dreaded umms and the ahhs

I am acutely aware that when speaking in front of an audience, I struggle for the next word to use. My brain helps me by filling my sentences full of the words umm and ahh. Every time I deliver a training program, I take deep breaths and mentally remind myself, “No umms and no ahhs, Bill.”

Most people never realize they are doing this, so they think they are delivering a great training course. In reality, the people taking the course can be very distracted by it and tune out. Worse, those umms and ahhs also affect your ability to be an authoritative figure. If you are unsure of the next word, you will easily break down and be unsure of what to click next on the computer screen and be clear about what the objective is for the lesson. I show you exactly how that will play out in the video at the top of this article.

The best training is polished and professional. If you are delivering the training, you need to remember that you are not just there to read a script but to help someone improve their career. How you deliver could mean whether that person is successful or not.

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