When it comes to learning, I’ve always taken the stance that there are many modalities, and not everyone comprehends in the same way. My awareness of this comes from my experience with my children having learning differences. When offered a variety of ways to approach education, each one figured out how they learned. This cognizance of learning types has become increasingly discussed and integrated into modern life. Schools rely more on virtual learning, and businesses reach their consumers online. YouTube is filled with crash courses on any and every topic imaginable. It is imperative in learning styles and voiceover to have multiple accesses to the brain, such as auditory, visual, or kinetic.
Is There Only One Way To Learn?
Passover is a perfect (and relevant) example of this need for various avenues. This Friday, my family is hosting a Sedar to gather, share food and each other’s company, and remember and celebrate the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. But there are many mediums in which this story is told, including:
- Food, with the salty water, unleavened matzah, sweet apples, and more each signify a component of the story
- The Haggadah provides a written guide to tell the story
- Through puppets and songs
Whether we are tailoring the story to children or adults who are not familiar with the holiday, we must be creative and inclusive in telling the story if we want a tradition to persist.
Is There Only One Way to Narrate a Story?
These same principles that the Jewish tradition has adapted are not unique: the power of visual learning and storytelling in engagement and education is the foundation of my work as a medical narrator. For many, the medical world is overwhelming and foreign: does anyone really know how to pronounce “Borborygmi” or what it even means?! (It’s a fancy word for a grumbling stomach). Perhaps some linguists can look at the word and derive its root, whereas another person needs to see a visual representation of a person’s rumbling stomach to be given clues and cues.
The key to successful storytelling is finding a way to engage with your audience in a meaningful way for them to foster understanding and education. After all, knowledge is power. Think about a lecture in college. Some learn fine from a teacher speaking in the classroom. Others need a PowerPoint with written words, and others need videos, pictures, or graphs to bring the topic to life further. But even within these categories (audible words, visual words, accompanying imagery, and animation), various aspects can make the “story” successful or not. Is a monotone speaker who just reads from a script the same as an animated lecturer? Is a presentation with hundreds of words on a single slide (we’ve all seen it) the same as one with just the key terms and concepts? Are all animated videos created equal?
Do You Know How You Learn Best?
While the brain processes visual and audible cues in similar ways, it happens in different areas. A stimulus is presented and then categorized accordingly. Visual stimuli such as looking at words, pictures, and the environment are, you guessed it, processed in the visual cortex. Similarly, audible stimuli are processed in the audio cortex within the temporal lobe. There is a difference between visual cues presented, such as words on a page versus a picture. The human brain is more adept at processing images or video representations than words simply because words are a more recent construct.
All mammals use imagery and vision to process their environment to survive- it’s a tale as old as time! I don’t need to dive too far down this (bottomless) rabbit hole of neuroscience, but our main takeaway should be that learning is complex and doesn’t happen in just one way. We live in a world where we constantly and simultaneously take in multiple types of stimuli and rely on multi-modal processing to create complete comprehension. As educators, we might not know precisely how each of our students’ or clients’ learns. I also consider myself an educator when I voice medical narration, explainer videos, and e-Learning content in particular. That’s why covering as many bases as we can when presenting information is essential.
e-Learning and Human Voiceover On The Rise
In an increasingly digital world, it is no surprise that the business of e-learning has experienced tremendous growth. Professionals in this field have identified the value that voice-over adds when combined with videos and animations. More specifically, the value that human voice actors add compared to the computer-generated narration. My job as a voiceover artist is to engage listeners with my voice: if I did have a monotone, automated voice, I wouldn’t be where I am today. How my voice sounds depends on the sense I have made of the words.
Interpretation, point of view, and intention generate subtleties in the narration that make the voiceover more interesting. That said, I also know the power and importance of animation in enhancing the story so that it can be heard and understood by a wider audience. But narration voiceover isn’t as simple as just reading what’s on the screen. A narrator can choose to:
- Read the text on the screen verbatim
- Describe visuals
We have creative calls with our clients to discuss these questions. Our mutual goals are to generate meaningful and engaging content to successfully reach, engage, and educate more people than a single medium alone.
Diversity In Learning Styles and Voiceover
What do we do with this knowledge? Let’s be creative and inclusive in how we share information. For my part, I will happily set my Sedar plate with food to symbolize the critical concepts of Passover. I will read the Haggadah so that both adults and children will understand. I’ll ask each of my guests to share an experience of personal liberation or quest for freedom to foster an emotional connection with what this holiday celebrates. All with the knowledge and appreciation that each of my guests is different and learns in their own way. And hopefully, each person will connect with the stories we share and the lessons we’ve learned in a meaningful way.
So, what’s your learning style?