Writing Your eLearning Script

When it comes to recording narration for your elearning modules, there is no doubt you will need a script and a narrator to read your script.  In most cases, I narrate my own scripts; there are however times when I can coerce someone else to do it such as, a co-worker, friend or if good luck gods are with me – a professional.

Coming up with a script can be a bit intimidating to a new instructional designer, but no worries. Remember the storyboard your created?  Well you can use it to help you come up with your script. You have to jump into a producer role. This is one of the reasons why I try to include an environment or scene that I’ve either pictured in my head or was asked to use for the training.

As an example, I was asked to create diversity training for our corporate office staff so I decided to use my own office as the scene choosing a motley crew of characters.  In this case, I did not do my own narration but asked different individuals to narrate so I could be sure to capture accents and dialects.

Coming up with the script required some quick culture research.  I a made serious attempt at keeping the script casual by using a “tea time” setting – every one gathered in the break room drinking tea; a regular scene in my office.  The setting added interest and the various narrators kept it entertaining and engaging.

I personally don’t use any special software when creating a script, I prefer putting pencil to paper, actually notecards (yes, pencil; I prefer this over pen).  There are however a few applications you can use to write out your script such as, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Zoho Writer or other wordprocessor.  If you are using PowerPoint, you can write your script in the notes section of each slide – this is where my script eventually ends up as I tend to use it as a transcript as well.

My scripts are usually written with the intention of recording after the content is ready.  In the event I’m shooting video, the script is written obviously before shooting.  I try to ensure that I don’t include anything that would prevent me from being able to move a particular clip from one area to another.  When you use terms like, “In the last segment we discussed….” or “Term XYZ discussed in the previous segment….”, you risk having to re-create the training later on if the company decides to take out the segments.  You want to make sure each clip or scene can stand alone but follow the storyboard.

Here are my TOP 5 tips to help you in developing your script:

#5 Keep it Simple. If you’re script is overly complicated or too wordy, your narrator may be tempted to skip lines or leave important information out.  You also risk losing the actual point of the training. Get to the point quickly without beating around the bush.  Your learners don’t need a song and dance.

#4 Indicate Your Emphasis. By this I mean make sure that lines, words, terms or sentences that need to be emphasized during narration stand out.  I will use bold when I want the narrator to increase tone, italics when I want a bit of emotion and color for notes and sounds effects. I write the word “pause” when I want a break in the narration.  I also will write in the emotion to be used to for any particular verse.  You know like they do in play scripts – ala Shakespeare.

#3 Provide Proper Pronunciations tips. I can’t tell you how important this is.  People tend to enunciate differently than others.  Believe it or not I struggle with a few pronunciations myself – blunders such as reading the word “Bison” and enunciating it as “Biz-on” and the word “Queue” as “K-Wii”- I had a whole room on the floor with that one.

#2 Number Your Scripts. This may seem logical but I’ve forgotten to number my cards many times only to end up wasting precious time trying to sort it all out. Also try to keep your script to one sheet per slide or scene to avoid page turns that can be picked up during recording.

#1 Check for ERRORS. People will read things literally and not question whether something is correct or incorrect, especially if you are using a coerced individual for the narrations.  I myself have recorded off bad scripts only to listen back and catch the fact that I had no clue what I was talking about or the point I was trying to make. Have someone read your script to you and with you – a second set of eyes is always great.

Once you get the hang of it, scripting becomes second nature.  I have fun with it as I tend to be able to put almost any situation in cartoon format in my head.  If you are a bad writer, get some help; ask some to write for you while you toss out your ideas.  Then have someone else read your script.


2 thoughts on “Writing Your eLearning Script

  1. I have been narrating several of my training modules and a good friend who is a sale person didn’t know it was me when she took the training. I’ve developed my radio voice I guess. ha!

    narrating is hard work and my diction has improved greatly since I’ve started. A good script is huge for a narrator. I have a much greater appreciate for the script now that I have had to narrate my own work.


    • Kim;

      Narrating is defintely a learned art, but once you got it you tend to find your groove and it becomes easier to do. It does however take a good script because no matter how good your voice is, if your script sucks nothing else matters.

      Thanks for sharing.


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