Personalization & Voice Principle


Richard E. Mayer is a professor of psychology who has experimented and written the 12 key principles of Multimedia Learning.

In this post, I would like to ponder about his 10th and 11th principle which is ‘Personalization Principle’ and ‘Voice Principle’ in Multimedia Learning.

Personalization Principle –

According to Personalization principle; people learn more deeply when words are presented in conversational style than formal style. Nevertheless, in the book “E-learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers” Clark and Mayer gives guidance for conversational style, ‘The challenge for instructional professionals is to avoid over-using conversational style to the point that it becomes distracting to the learner.’

It makes sense to write informally as learners would feel that they are having interaction with their instructor or a friend but at the same time keeping in mind that not so informal that the learner gets distracted by too casual tone and script. When I say distracted it means that a casual conversational style might even divert the learners from the main message of the training material.

Voice Principle –

Speaking of casual tone, when we look at the voice principle, Mayer has a say that, ‘In voice principle, people learn more deeply when the words in a multimedia message are spoken by a friendly human voice than by a machine voice.’ According to the research of Reeves and Nass (1996), it shows that, under the right circumstances, people “treat computers like real people.” Part of treating computers like real people is to try harder to understand their communications.”

I certainly agree to it, as I have worked with machine voices in the software Adobe Captivate, the voice does not relate anything near to the script on the screen. The script given by me was meant for a casual tone but the way the machine reads without any personalization seems to be very formal. One more cons for machine voice is, while working with global audience, it may get hard for the machine voice to speak with accent. However, working with a local human voice narration might work better in this scenario. (Mayer) Voice cues may affect the degree to which a learner feels a social response to the instructional message.

Have you worked on delivering voice narrations before for your multimedia presentation? Which one did you choose between human voice, machine voice and talking avatars like Why?

Which style did you choose, formal or conversational? Why?

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). New York, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Clark, Ruth. C., Mayer, Richard. E. (2003). E-learning and the Science of instruction proven guidelines for consumers and designers for multimedia learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Photo Courtesy –


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.



One comment on “Personalization & Voice Principle

  1. I agree with Mayer’s personalisation principle. I also use Adobe Captivate to create my elearning courses. However, I only use the inbuilt Text To Speech (TTS) functionality as a way to roughly time out the appearance of on-screen elements to coincide with the voice. I also find the TTS useful for providing clients with a quick draft version of a course so that they can approve the script. For the final cut of the course I always use my own voice. In my opinion, the TTS technology hasn’t quite arrived at the point where it can yet replace the human touch.

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