7 Ways Audio Can Benefit Your Online Training
Most online training developers rely on branching or video-based scenarios to facilitate real-world application and immerse employees in the experience. However, they aren’t necessarily optimal for busy professionals who can’t get to a screen. The trick is adding audio scenarios in online training to offer JIT support and foster an emotional connection. The radio days may be gone, when listeners were all huddled around, waiting for static voices to unravel the mystery. But audio scenarios in online training still have the power to engulf modern employees’ minds and help them absorb the subject matter.
1. Focus On One Task Or Challenge
Unlike text, employees can’t simply reread a section to clarify confusion when listening to an audio scenario. Thus, you need to keep it short and sweet by focusing on a single topic. Don’t try to cover too much ground and cause cognitive overload. Determine what employees need to know to overcome the challenge and omit any extraneous information. Ideally, audio scenarios should be just a few minutes long; just long enough to flush out the story and give employees the essentials. Furthermore, every audio scenario needs to tie into measurable objectives and desired outcomes. For instance, help employees build their communication skills so they can raise customer service satisfaction scores by 10% this quarter.
2. Brevity Boosts Knowledge Retention
You might be tempted to relive the glory of the golden age of radio by reenacting every aspect of the scene. However, avoid this temptation to boost knowledge retention. Keep dialogue brief and stick to the main plot points. You want to develop your characters, but not give so much backstory that it distracts employees from the basics. In fact, consider developing a storyboard to keep track of the story arc without dragging it out for too long. Keep in mind that employees are looking for timely information they can apply right away. Entertainment comes into play but takes a back seat to practical application.
3. Use Realistic Characters And Storylines
The quickest way to lose employee interest is to create an audio scenario that’s chock-full of boring or exaggerated characters. They need to be believable so that trainees can form an emotional connection and relate rather than roll their eyes at the absurd dialogue or motivations behind the character’s actions. For example, why would the customer in the scenario suddenly storm into the store and demand a replacement item? Especially if there’s no basis for their frustration or their emotions are completely out of character.
4. Clear And Concise Narrations
We’ve all had to sit through at least one lecture, podcast, or audiobook that was so garbled or unintelligible that we checked out mentally. We may have kept listening but nothing was sinking in. Your audio scenario must be clear and concise so that employees know what’s going on, why, and how it applies in the real world. Characters with complex accents or quirky dialogue may be interesting, but they might also create confusion. In addition, the narrator should be reliable and relatable. Employees must be able to see a bit of themselves in the character and trust their authority.
5. Add Sound Effects To Enhance Immersion
Adding sound effects to your audio scenario is an art. It may seem simple. How difficult can it be to just throw in some car horns or key-typing sounds into the production, right? But it’s all about balance. Effects need to be subtle enough to blend into the background but still stand out so that employees take notice. The goal is to create a sense of immersion that allows trainees to focus on the task at hand and steer clear of distractions. Many rapid authoring tools feature free sound effects but you can also find them online. Of course, you can also create your own in-house to reduce costs and enhance realism.
6. Follow-Up To Gauge Understanding And Application
After employees listen to the audio scenario there must be a way to determine if they actually absorb the information and can apply it in context. Follow up with simulations, branching scenarios, and other activities that test their comprehension. You can even host a discussion group on social media to get their input and see how much they’ve learned. For example, post a question that asks them if they would do things differently than the main character and why. Or how they might venture down a different decision path if they were in a similar situation.
7. Turn Employees Into Producers
You don’t have to produce every audio scenario in online training on your own. In fact, you can cut costs and improve resource allocation by allowing employees to step into the role of the content creator. Assign them a specific task or obstacle and invite them to develop their own audio scenario. They can either voice it themselves or get friends or colleagues on board. They have to take care of every step of the production process, from scripting to editing, then upload their content to the library, where they’ll receive coworker feedback. This also helps them better understand the topic because they have to teach it. Give them all the tools and resources they need to create a masterpiece, including recording software, mics, and a tutorial on how to polish the finished product.
Audio scenarios are easily accessible, quick to consume, and wholly entertaining. Instead of just reading about a job-related obstacle or task, they’re able to listen along and enjoy the dialogue. Not to mention, get helpful tips and insights on how to apply what they’ve learned to improve workplace performance and productivity. The secret is to use top-notch narrators, immersive sound effects, and follow-up activities to gauge their level of understanding.
Do you need to hire a high-quality voice actor for your online training audio scenario? Use our online directory to find the perfect vocal talent for your next project.