If you feel like Alexa just doesn’t understand you as clearly as she should it might be time for a little one-on-one voice training. Read on as we show you how to train Alexa to recognize your speaking voice and get a better user experience in the process.
Why Do I Want To Do This?
Like all voice assistants Alexa isn’t perfect at understanding everything we say. Although we’ve had a very smooth experience with Alexa right out of the box that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement just like there is with Siri and other voice-assistants. (And, in fact, if you want to also train Siri, Cortana, or the voice recognition on your Android phone, you can check out our article on the topic here.)
Thankfully, like with other voice-assistants, there is a way to train Alexa to better understand your speaking voice and accent. The training method only takes a few minutes and as long as you have your Amazon Echo, Amazon Fire, or other Alexa-enabled device on hand (and the smart device you use to control it), you’ll be done in no time.
Prepping for Your Training Session
Before you begin your training session there are a few minor things to consider. You want to do the training under the normal conditions you use the device. So, for example, if your Echo is located in your kitchen and you generally issue commands to the Echo/Alexa while across the room from it, then that’s where you want to do the training from. In addition you want to use the same voice you normally speak to Alexa in (don’t go out of your way to speak with precise and clear diction like you were making a court statement or such).
It doesn’t help Alexa better recognize your voice if you get right up to the microphone (or use the Echo remote with the build-in microphone) or go out of your way to speak as properly and slowly as possible if, in daily use, you’re far away from the microphone and you tend to speak quickly and in a different tone/accent.
Finally, turn off any background noise (like a television in the other room) to better isolate your speaking voice during the actual training session.
Starting the Training Session
Once you’ve prepared for the training session and you’re in the location you’re generally in when using Alexa (be that standing at the kitchen sink or sitting in your office chair), it’s time to launch the actual training session.
Open the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone, select the menu icon in the upper left corner of the screen (the three bar icon), and then in the drop down menu select “Voice Training” at the very bottom.
When you select “Voice Training” there’s one last selection to make.
For most people (who only own one Alexa-enabled device) it will be defaulted to that device, typically [Your Name]’s Echo. If you have more than one Alexa-enabled device linked to your Amazon Prime account you’ll need to select the one you’ll actually be doing the voice training with.
Don’t worry about which device you use (beyond using the one physically closest to you) as the voice-language-learning isn’t localized to the device but linked to your account. Train Alexa well on one of your devices and she should understand you better on every other device.
With the correct device selected, click “Start Session”.
The top of your Echo will light up and you’ll be prompted to read through the sentences, slide-show style. Read each sentence and then either click “Next” to move onto the next entry or “Repeat Phrase” if you feel like you fumbled it.
One tip we’d offer is this: read the sentence silently in your head and then look away from the screen and repeat it out loud. If you read it right off the screen you’ll have a tendency to use your reading-aloud voice which, for most people, is different than their regular speaking voice. By reading it first and then saying it out loud you’ll say it in a more natural cadence/accent. After all you don’t want Alexa to get good at understanding you when you’re reading a speech but when you’re talking normally to her at home.
Once you’ve completed the 25 statements you can, if you wish, repeat the process again to further fine tune the results. Although we found that Alexa didn’t need multiple voice training sessions the prompts are different each time and you may find that it’s educational to work on the voice training multiple times. Not only does it help refine Alexa’s ear but you might just discover new tricks as the app prompts you to try new commands with Alexa.