10 Mistakes in Elearning Design: Slides Are Read Aloud

Today we are moving on to frequent mistakes I see in Auditory Design! Let’s talk about voiceover. Voiceover can add a human element to elearning, making it more engaging for the learner. Voiceover can be a wonderful strategy to better deliver content to a learner. Combined with simple visuals, it’s a great way to explain complicated concepts using two of the learners’ processing channels: visual and audio.

Where voiceover goes wrong is when it’s redundant to what’s on screen, or when the developer lets a robot do all the talking.

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

Here’s what we’ve already covered:

Mistake #7: Slides Are Read Aloud

The title here may be giving it away, but let’s look at an Original Design. Here, we have a slide specifying the Learning Objectives for a course, and Narrator Lindsay is also there as a disembodied voice reading it aloud to you. Imagine being presented with this slide and a voiceover reading every word to you on the screen:

Demonstration of Lindsay reading a slide aloud to the learner in a ridiculously redundant way.

So, you’re reading the slide yourself and Lindsay is also reading it to you. You can most likely read faster than Lindsay is reading aloud! This is an example of a redundant narration that is adding nothing to the slide, and in fact is just annoying the learner.

Here’s a redesign:

Slide with learning objectives but no one is reading it aloud redundantly!

Notice that it’s just the slide on its own – no Narrator Lindsay this time reading it aloud! There are further improvements that we can make to this slide, and there are some other options, as well, if you really do want to keep the voiceover. I love voiceovers! Voiceovers are great. Just don’t read a slide aloud word-for-word – trim the words on screen at least.

Here’s another potential redesign:

Learner reveals learning objectives one at a time

Get the learner involved! This is a very simple click-to-reveal, but it lets the learner lead. Dump the voiceover altogether, and just set up a slide where the learner reveals the learning objectives on their own.


  • Don’t read slides to the learner – they can read just fine on their own
  • If you want voiceover on every slide and you really, really want to read the learning objectives out loud – trim the words that appear on screen so that the voiceover isn’t completely redundant
  • Add interactivity instead – let the learner “touch the screen” in a click-to-reveal activity to read the learning objectives

Next Time

We’re going to look at another voiceover mistake – this one involves robots! Can you guess what it is?

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