Creating Effective Audio Content with Farm Radio’s VOICE Standards
Updated: Mar 3, 2022
How Farm Radio’s VOICE standards can help you design audio content for Talking Books
Well-crafted audio content can increase the likelihood of knowledge retention and the adoption of healthy behaviors. So how do you develop effective content to ensure great results? Amplio Ghana's senior content manager, Fidelis Da-Uri, is an expert on the topic, with over eight years of experience designing Talking Book audio content for international development organizations like UNICEF and CARE.
We asked what advice Fidelis would give someone who wants to create audio content for social and behavior change programs.
“Farm Radio’s VOICE standards are a great place to start,” he said.
Farm Radio International is a Canadian-based, nonprofit organization that works with radio broadcasters throughout Africa to fight poverty and food insecurity. Da-Uri attended classes with Farm Radio and applies the principles he learned when he sits down to develop content outlines and scripts.
Here’s how Da-Uri applies Farm Radio’s VOICE standards to Talking Books:
V: Value and respect your audience, both women and men
“Do not view your audience as people who are illiterate and know nothing. It’s important to respect their lives and work, and the issues and barriers they face,” says Da-Uri. "They’re busy, hard-working people who need access to relevant information in a language they can understand in a format that’s informative and engaging.”
O: Opportunity to speak and be heard
“Communication should not be a one-way event. Give people an opportunity to share their feedback on what you are telling them. They are experts on their own experience, and their feedback will help you improve your messages to meet program goals,” says Da-Uri.
The Talking Book has a built-in microphone that allows users to record their feedback. Da-Uri and the Amplio Ghana team listen to Talking Book user feedback to gain deeper insights about community issues and concerns. They also conduct stakeholder meetings and facilitate community dialogue, debate, and problem-solving around the issues that Talking Book programs address.
Fidelis Da-Uri works with local subject experts to create Talking Book content.
“Give people relevant information when they need it. You should not be discussing issues on post-harvest losses when farmers are clearing their lands,” Da-Uri advises.
“For example, if your program is focused on education, you may want to remind parents that it’s time to start saving for school fees or to register their child for kindergarten. In the communities where we work in the Upper West Region, we update Talking Books during the rainy season with messages on malaria and importance of using bed nets.”
Most Talking Book programs update audio content on a quarterly basis. This allows Amplio and its partners to create and share messages that are seasonally relevant, whether it’s information on health, education, or farming.
Talking Books also can be updated in response to emerging issues. During a polio outbreak in northern Ghana, LBG was able to rapidly deploy new messages to inform communities about the importance of vaccines and vaccine schedules.
Currently, Amplio Ghana is partnering with Ghana Health Services, UNICEF, and Amplio on a Talking Book COVID-19 awareness campaign. The project launched in April 2020, and the team continues to update Talking Book content in response to community feedback and the evolving situation. Recent updates include messages about government protocols, social stigma, domestic violence, and more.
C: Consistency and convenience
“Research your topic area and collaborate with stakeholders like government departments to ensure accuracy and consistency. Remember, you will lose most of your audience if they know your messages are not consistent. Whereas, you build trust and engagement if messaging is consistent,” Da-Uri said.
“Convenience is also important. Even if people have radios, they may not be able to access information when they need it. With the Talking Book, people can listen to messages in their local language on demand. At community health posts, nurses play Talking Book messages during antenatal care (ANC) visits and child welfare clinics. Families can listen and learn while they’re waiting to be seen."
In northern Ghana, many community health nurses don’t speak the local language or dialect well enough to explain key concepts. With the Talking Book, they can deliver consistent and accurate messages more efficiently and effectively.
E: Entertaining and memorable
“Including a variety of formats, such as dramas and songs, appeals to the interests and tastes of a wide range of listeners," Da-Uri said. "Content creators should aim to create messages that are clear, believable, and persuasive. Be sure to test your messages with the target audience.”
Da-Uri said that interviews and songs are the most popular message formats in the communities where Amplio Ghana works. A skilled xylophone percussionist, he often composes original music to use for Talking Books.
He's not the only person creating content.
“Communities also get inspired to record their own Talking Book songs in response to new information and ideas. The user feedback function makes it possible."
About Farm Radio
Farm Radio’s VOICE standards are designed to help broadcasters create radio programming for farmers, but the standards can be applied to other channels and sectors. See VOICE standards to improve your farmer program to access a checklist of indicators with examples of program content and presentation. To learn about Farm Radio and how to sign up for their training programs, visit their website.