One of the first things I usually do when I’m about to start programming eLearning courses, is to compile the voice over script and send it to the audio talent for recording. Why do I do this? Because it usually takes the voice talent 2 to 3 days to record the entire script and send it back to me, that way I can still start developing, creating templates, and adding the first few interactions to the eLearning module while I get the professional audio.
You might wonder why do I do it this way and not send the voice over script for recording toward the end of the programming cycle. Well, as I said before, it usually takes some time for the audio talent to record their lines, and one of the things we don’t want to do is to impact the timelines we have promised the client, because anything can happen and there have been occasions in which the audio talent is not available at the time they are needed, and doing it from the beginning gives us the opportunity to find a different audio professional should we need to.
Also, because we are trying to create an eLearning module that has animations and transition effects, we rely a lot in the audio to time these animations (generally, these animations are comprised of text and images that appear and disappear in sync with the audio).
But what if we are not able to get our hands on the professional audio from the beginning? First, we need to know why this is the case in our current project, is it because the audio talent is not available? Or is it because the voice over script hasn’t been finalized and we are expecting to make further extensive changes to it?
Whatever may be the case, there are options to generate a first draft of the eLearning module that will give the client a very close idea to a finalized product:
If you have a somewhat professional recording studio, you can ask one of your staff to record the lines so that you can use as a base to sync all the animations and interactions, although realistically, this is more time consuming for you and your staff, because it would mean spending hours recording and editing the audio
If you are using Articulate Storyline, version 3 and 360 come with a text-to-speech engine that can help you create an audio track with your script in seconds, albeit very robotic, however this will give you a very good idea on how the animations will play out in the eLearning module without spending extra time or money. The best part is that if there are any modification, you can do them on the spot and then show the client how the new script will sound
If you are using another authoring tool or you simply want to have a more realistic sounding voice but still have the same efficiency as the voices provided in Storyline, you can use a tool called Speechelo. This tool allows you to do the same things you do in Storyline, but its Artificial Intelligence engine will make the voice sound more natural and automatically add “sentiment” to the script that it is narrating, and you can even manually indicate which parts you need with a different intonation. It also offers a wide range of voices in different accents and languages. One of the things is that it is a paid solution, but looking at the general picture, it is an expense that will help you in the long run.