10 Mistakes in Elearning Design: Robot As Narrator

Last time we started talking about voiceover. Voiceover is a solid feature that can elevate a learning experience. Problems come when the narrator is reading a slide aloud and boring the learner, or when the voiceover narration is outsourced to…a robot!

This is the eighth post in my series, 10 Mistakes in Elearning Design.

Here’s what we’ve already covered:

Mistake #8: Robot As Narrator

Take a look at this Original Design. You have another Learning Objectives slide here, like we looked at last time. But instead of Narrator Lindsay we have Narrator Robot.

There is no audio attached here for you to listen, but I have a feeling you’ll here this robot’s voice regardless. Take a read, what do you hear?

Like we covered last time, it’s bad practice to read a slide aloud word-for-word. Your learner can likely read faster than you can talk. But what’s worse than a person reading a slide word-for-word? A robot reading a slide word-for-word.

By robot, I’m referring to the generic text-to-speech features that are built into Storyline or Captivate, or that you can easily find free on the web.

Dump the robot. Use your own voice. And if you are using your own voice, don’t sound like a robot! Per Mayer’s Personalization Principle, “humans learn best from a more informal, conversational voice than an overly formal voice. Having a more casual voice actually improves the learning experience.”

Yes, robot voices are getting much, much better. WellSaid Labs, for one, has some incredible AI voices. They can make for solid voiceover narration, but, listen closely and you can still tell that they aren’t real. Your voice is charming. Use your own voice.

Another option: redo your learning objectives slide altogether. Check out this redesign and see what you think:

It’s simpler. Learning objectives can sound very boring! Consider just giving your learners the gist. A gentle, human voiceover might elaborate on these points which would add a lovely human element to the course without boring the learner.


  • Avoid reading slides aloud
  • Use your own human voice – no robots!
  • Per Mayer’s Personalization Principle, use a casual, informal, human voice!

Next Time

We are close to wrapping up the 10 Mistakes! Next time we’re going to move on to quiz design. Our final two mistakes will examine what happens when quiz question design goes wrong!

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