So speaking in front of a real, live audience is a great way to communicate. However, we don’t always get to control the world that we live in and so sometimes it’s just not possible to have you (the speaker) in the same place as all of the people who need to hear your message (your audience). What’s a speaker to do? Back in the olden days, this would be the time that you’d whip out the cassette recorder, make a master tape, and then through the magic of high-speed dubbing you’d crank out as many copies as you needed and off they’d go in the mail. Thank goodness those days are behind us now.
Here in the 21st Century we’ve now gone all digital. When we want to record our voices to share with others, we no longer reach for the cassette, now we reach for our laptops and iPods to create podcasts. As easy as it is these days to capture and publish our spoken words, lately I’ve been running into a lot of really poorly done podcasts and it’s got me scratching my head. I mean, aren’t these people listening to what they are creating and, just like me, doesn’t it make them shudder?
To make sure that you don’t get off the beaten path, here are some tips that will help you create a great communication tool your first time at bat:
- How Do I Record My Voice In The First Place? You’re going to need two things in order to capture your voice on your laptop: a microphone and some software. You can get wacky about microphones if youÃ‚Â are a real audiophile; however, just about any one will do. It turns out that the sound card built into your laptop actually does most of the work, so the physical microphone just has to be good enough – if you already have one, then use it. If you need a recommendation, the Labtec Verse 524 is a good one to go with and you can’t beat the price: ~$10.
- What Software Should I Use?: Once you have your speech recorded, you are going to want to do at least a bit of editing on it – chop off the false starts at the beginning or trim off the run on bit at the end. Once again, I’m a big advocate for doing this on the cheap and so I’d recommend downloading and using the very popular free (as in beer), open source software that everyone else seems to be using called Audiocity.
- How Long Should My Recording Be?: Ok, so this is where you can get yourself into some serious trouble. The longer you speak, the more damage you can do. You have no way of actually “seeing” the audience who will be listening to your podcast, so you need to be as brief as possible and keep to your main points. You want to speak long enough so that your listeners get value from what you are saying; however, you don’t want to speak so long that they start to look at their watches wondering if you are ever going to wrap this thing up. Remember, they are not sitting in an audience so if you lose them, they’ll just click you off. As a general rule of thumb, I’d say that you don’t want to talk for longer than 15 minutes on a single podcast.
- What Should I Not Do?: This is an easy question to answer – get rid of any “umms” and “ahs” that show up when you are speaking. Since there is no live audience, there is a good chance that if you aren’t careful you’ll start to fill in the blank spots in your speech with these filler sounds and especially on a podcast, they are quite distracting and really take away from your message.
- How Should I Change My Speaking Voice?: Stop – don’t! Sometimes your microphone, your laptop, or even Audiocity software will let you change how your recorded voice sounds. I’ve had women friends who have fooled with these settings so much that their recordings made them sound like James Earl Jones was speaking their parts. You are better off speaking using your normal voice. It can be quite a shock when you hear your recorded voice the first time; however, spend some time with it and become comfortable with it – everyone else is!
Have you had a chance to create a podcast yet? Why did you have to do it? Did you have any technical challenges making the actual digital recording? Were you happy with the final outcome? What did you think about how your recorded voice sounded? Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.