Narration Tips

Jul 30, 2012

Ask and ye shall receive.

Recently I've gotten several requests to share "tips" on how to narrate eLearning for "non professional narrators".  So, I did some thinking and "jotting down of ideas" and put together the following video for you all.

Andy's Narration Tips



10 Replies
Patti Bryant


Thanks SO much for doing this!

I'm an amateur at this and things that you said totally resonated with me. Most of my eLearning narration is for my company and I use a professional voice. However, I'm trying to also practice my conversational narration in blog posts and in some of the courses I am creating in my master's program. For some strange reason, I find conversational harder to manage! 

I 100% agree that when you smile, it truly makes a difference. I also watch my posture when I'm narrating. 

Great job!

Keepin' the joy,


P.S: Did I see a pup walking around in the beginning?

Andy Bowyer


"Pay no attention to the dog behind the curtain!"  

"Conversational Narration" is a tough one to pull off, mostly because "conversational" is in the ear of the beholder, as it were.  We're so "conditioned" to hear things narrated a certain way that it's tough to do it any other way.  It's as if we're trying to recreate a "type" or something.  But regardless of how you approach a narration, always keep in mind you're talking TO someone else.  Remember that, and you'll be fine.


T. Travis

Hi Andy,

Enjoyed the video  - Except you gave away all our secrets!!!

A skill I've never been able to achieve (and believe me I have tried) is to "sound" like I know what I'm talking about when I don't.  I always need to "learn the lesson" before I give it.  - which means I need to actually become an "expert" of sorts in the subject before I read the script.  Which makes the project take longer, and makes me less competitive price-wise.... And I sometimes get totally grossed-out when I'm doing medical.  

Orson Welles once said that the camera "photographs your thoughts".  I have found the same thing to be true of the microphone. -It can hear your innermost thoughts and feelings - and they make their way all the way to the final listener.  The longer I do this the more I find that I can't really fool anyone - so my only choice for effective narration is to be totally open and sincere. You can always tell when I don't really mean what I say.  

This is why "conversational" narration is difficult for me, and, I'm pretty sure, most other people-even professional VO folks. The listener knows you're working from a prepared script.  Everybody knows it's a one-way communication, and that you're not really their best friend. If you're honest (which I think you need to be in any kind of performance art), the best you can hope for is to be friendly to a stranger, to believe that what you're saying is important, to make someone else's (the writer's) words your own, and that you're sincere in what you're saying.  -- oh, and that you're having a good time being the messenger.


Steven Leibensperger

I work for a State Medicaid agency developing e-learning and have to do my own audio narration.  I completely agree on becoming familiar with industry standard terms.  Acronyms abound in State government and pronouncing one wrong can completely turn off a learner as it will be the only thing they focus on for a several slides.

Bruce Graham

One thing that can certainly help is to develop a system of phonetic "checking" with  your clients.

Yesterday I had the word Canadean to record.

I had to ask whether it was pronounced "canAYdeeyun" Like a person from Canada), or "cannaDEEun". It was in fact the latter.

Always better to ask before recording while scripting!


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