17 Tips for Writing E-Learning Scripts
If you’re including a narrative in your e-learning course or you have a video or animation that needs a voiceover, you’ll need a script. In fact, the script you write is crucial to the quality of the course.
The following 17 tips are essential to produce high-quality and engaging e-learning scripts that facilitate the learning process.
1. Understand the Audience
Before you start tapping the script out on your computer, there are a couple of things you need to do. One of them is to make sure you properly understand your audience. After all, the style, tone, and language you use in the script will need to suit the learners who will be completing your course.
2. Plan Before You Write
You should also have a plan in place before you start writing. This includes giving the script a structure to ensure it flows properly and to get everything in the right order. Planning is also important to avoid missing important information.
3. Use Conversational, Informal Language
Scripts in e-learning should not be stuffy and formal. In fact, they should be very similar to the type of language a trainer would use in a classroom, i.e. normal, everyday language.
Being professional is always important, but the tone should be personable, and the language should be informal and conversational.
4.Adapt the Language and Tone to the Type of Learner
If possible, you should also adapt the language and tone of your script to the learners who will be completing the course. Here are some examples of what this might be like:
- Board members, directors, and senior management – slightly more formal and business-like
- Engineers – very factual with minimal filler or fluff
- Sales staff – highly motivational and inspiring
- Customer service staff – fun and more relaxed while still being professional
If your e-learning course will have a range of audience types, you might not be able to achieve the above. In these situations, you should adopt a more neutral tone while still being conversational, professional, engaging, and interesting.
Finally on this point, make sure the tone and language you use never patronises the learner.
5. Speak Directly to the Learner
Don’t write the script in the third person. Instead, speak directly to the learner. This means using words like “you” and “your” as well as “we”.
6. Make the Script Relatable
Where possible, make the script relatable to the day-to-day experience of the learner. This means using references, scenarios, and explanations they will understand from first-hand experience.
7. Don’t Repeat Text that is On the Screen
Whether your script is a narration for the e-learning course or a voiceover for a video or animation, it should enhance the course rather than simply repeating what is already on the screen.
This means, for example, providing additional information, offering a more detailed explanation, adding context, or providing nuance.
8. Get the Timing Right
Make sure your script is not too long or too short for the content on the screen. On average, people read scripts out loud at about 100 words a minute.
You also need to take into account what is happening on the screen to ensure the timing of the script matches.
9. Use Short Sentences
Scripts with short sentences flow better for the learner, plus you will get a better read from your voiceover artist. Short sentences can also help to lighten up heavy and difficult topics, including compliance topics.
This tip is all about writing for the ear rather than the eye.
10. Use an Active Voice
Using an active rather than a passive voice will help you talk directly to the learner and it will make your script more engaging, positive, and motivational.
11. Avoid Colloquialisms, Local Phrases, Local References, and Anything Else that Might Get Lost in Translation
This tip only applies if your e-learning course will be completed by learners in different locations or who speak different languages. In fact, if everyone doing your course lives and works in Dubai, for example, adding some local references may enhance engagement levels while also making the script more relatable.
However, those local references are easily lost when learners from a different location complete the course, or when you translate it into another language.
12. Avoid Any Jargon Where there is a Possibility It Won’t Be Understood
Importantly, this tip doesn’t say to avoid jargon. This is because, in the right circumstances, using jargon is beneficial. Those circumstances are when you are sure everyone doing the course understands the jargon.
If there is any possibility that someone won’t understand the jargon, you should leave it out.
13. The Shorter the Better
Don’t fluff out your script with unnecessary information, words, or sentences. Don’t repeat anything either, unless you are doing so for educational and knowledge retention purposes.
From a pure scriptwriting perspective, the tighter you can make it, the better.
14. Stay Rigorously On-Topic
This follows on from the previous point but it’s worth including separately as there are specific reasons for avoiding going off on tangents in an e-learning course script. This includes the fact that tangents can be boring, they can confuse learners, and they often frustrate learners as they take up valuable time. It’s best to avoid them.
15. Don’t Fill Silent Periods If It’s Not Necessary
If narration is not required for what is happening on screen, don’t fill it with words. Silence will work much better.
16. Read the Script Out Loud
You should always proofread e-learning scripts out loud. This applies to every iteration and edit. Only by reading out loud will you find clunky sentences or words that just don’t flow right.
17. Let the Voiceover Artist Read the Script Out Loud Before Recording
Finally, the voiceover artist should also read the script out loud before the recording starts. Crucially, you should be prepared to make changes during this process as everyone reads scripts differently. Adapting yours to the reader is important.