It can be daunting to record an audio narration for your PowerPoint slide presentation. It’s so tempting to just read the text on the slide, but that’s exactly what you don’t want to do. You want your audio and slides to work together to explain and demonstrate to your students the content you want them to learn.
Have you heard the term ‘write for the ear’?
How we write text and how we speak is quite different. The text we write to be read is more complex and it can be more formal. The text we write to be spoken has shorter sentences, uses everyday words, and sounds like we’re having a conversation with a friend.
When I recorded my first PowerPoint audio it took me all afternoon to record a 5 minute audio of my slides. When I was done, my colleagues didn’t even recognize it as my voice. My language was formal and stiff and I didn’t sound like I do in everyday conversation.
If your audio is sounding like you’re reading a textbook. Here are 5 tips to get you started.
1. Plan your script
Writing a script might seem counter intuitive to my advice to record a natural sounding conversation, but rarely does winging it result in an effective instructional audio. The more time you spend planning the text to accompany your slides, the easier it will be to record the audio. Your words need to align with the slide presentation and get to the point quickly, yet, still cover the required content. Writing a script will help you determine if you have the right graphic on each slide, you’ve balanced your content from slide to slide, and you’re not confusing your students with too much talking.
2. Write like you talk
You want to write like you talk. When you read your text if should sound like you’re having a conversation, not like you’re reading a research report. Use simple and understandable language, avoid the use of jargon, and use contractions – because that’s what you do when you are talking. In the end you want to sound authentic.
3. Get to the point
Find the balance between too much extraneous information, and not enough information to keep your students interested. Simplify and streamline your content. Remember you don’t need to tell your students “absolutely everything” you know, likewise you don’t need to explain everything in detail. Get to the point and do it quickly.
4. Read your script out loud
Read your script out loud, not to yourself, but in your real voice so you can hear it with your ears. When you read out loud your tongue will trip over unnatural word choices, and you’ll run out of breath if the sentence is too long. Listen to where you need to shorten a sentence, change your choice of words, or just pause to catch your breath. Check for meaning. When you read it out loud with intonation does it still mean what you intended?
5. Plan your audio to work with your slides.
When your words and slide graphics are misaligned your students can easily misinterpret the content. Likewise when there’s lots of text on your slide your students will be reading the slide and miss what your voice is explaining to them. Don’t read exactly what is on the slide. Multimedia research by Richard Mayer supports the concept that when you narrate exactly what is on your slide your students will not learn as effectively as when you use a graphic and your narration.
Planning is essential to an effective instructional audio. Keep your audio short, concise and talk to your students like you would if they were standing right beside you.
Need help getting started? Here’s a good example of a simple audio script format. Number the slides, describe what is on the slide, then write the text exactly how you’ll say it in your recording.