ear-159306 copy-01When is webinar season? Every season is webinar season, as our world gets more virtual by the minute.

Around since the 90’s, webinars are just seminars conducted over the Internet. This basic definition corrals nearly everyone into a growing world of moving image and sound.

It’s Havard and Stanford Universities teaching hefty online courses for free as part of the Open Initiative program. It’s the gargantuan YouTube network, where everyone from major corporations, non-for-profit organizations, coaches, and even precocious teen leaders offer their own treasuries of knowledge or opinion to the airwaves via satellite and local networks.

Media of every stripe: old & new media, social media & gaming media. Facwxook just launched its own Live Video feature, and early adapters are jumping right into the deep end with video of all kinds. Hello Vine, your 6 seconds of video dominance is being challenged.

And then there are the online entrepreneurs selling how-to courses remotely via private membership sites.

In all of this, we tend to focus on the visual aspect of video. Duh: video.

What we tend to overlook is the role audio plays.

Wait a minute, Diane, what does audio have to do with your launch?

You may ask, “Aren’t you launching a book? And an online a video course?

Yes. but here’s something to consider.

Many entrepreneurs are like me, looking for the best, most effective AND cost-efficient way to grow their businesses, products, and services to serve more people.

Budgets for good quality video are a big deal. A good rule of thumb for professional video is to budget $1000 per “finished minute.” Not cheap!

Even if you DIY, what you don’t spend on vendors, comes out of your own time and effort needed to produce the videos. I’ve done nearly 50 videos in 4 free series on YouTube since March, averaging 3-6 minutes each.

Start to finish, I spent nearly 200 hours in prep, script writing, rehearsal, shooting, art direction and editing. Add it up, and that is a big deal, in time or money.

When it comes to my first paid online course, I’ve been researching what others are doing successfully, and there are two main ways to go:

(1) Direct to camera live video.

(2) Slides with an audio track.

I am leaning toward slides with an audio track for several reasons, and one is time efficiency.

In my experience, audio is faster to record and edit. I enjoyed doing online radio with a year-long show I did in the 90’s, and I often consult via phone, so I am used to not being seen by my audience, and don’t hold it as a hindrance to warmth and connection. Heck, even when I do my weekend museum tours, we use audio devices, so our visitors hear me through earphones, free to wander around while still listening. I guess I have “radio” in my blood.

Here’s where the LISTENING part of this Diary Post comes in. It’s cautionary tale time.

I’ve listened to many hundreds of webinars, from freebies to paid events. I listen to KCRW Radio’s weekly news, interview and culture programs whenever I drive.

I hear excellent audio delivery of everything from sales pitches, to talk shows, to course materials presented via voice, all the time.

Until today.

I signed up for a free one hour webinar with a social media giant who shall remain nameless.

It was the single worst audio presentation i can remember, sad to say.

The presenters had clearly done a huge amount of work to prepare, so it was not sloppy. It was tighter than a drum in fact, with charts and graphs and bullets and data and test results and summaries.

But what made it so hard to listen to?

There were two presenters. Amazingly, they each had the same flaw: They spoke so fast, it was like their hair was on fire and they’d been told they’d get no help putting it out until they finished their scripts.

Beyond breakneck speed. All in monotone, but upwardly pitched, voices. There was no time or space for emotion to sneak in. They were just trying to survive this!

The audio quality was unforgivingly clear, so I could hear not only their script pages flipping, I could hear their unconscious gulps for air mid-sentence. Who wouldn’t gulp under these conditions?

At the start of this race, they took a few seconds to conduct an audience survey to gauge skill levels, which they showed on an impressive little realtime graph. 84% of their audience self-identified as “beginners.”

Yet the presenters used rapid-fire jargon and insider abbreviations without explanation. For beginners? I’ve got 44 years under my belt, so I could follow it. I just didn’t want to!

It was just plain too hard to listen that fast. I stuck with it until the very end. But taking notes was out of the question without even momentary pauses to digest what they’d said.

You can get the flavor of it. But never fear, here’s the antidote:


What to pay attention to, and practice, for audio voice recording:


 

whispering> 1. Vary the pace. We are not automatons or metronomes in real life, so change it up like we do when we are with others.

> 2. Take natural pauses. In conversation, we sometime pause, even just a beat, and our listeners are fine with that.

> 3. Allow some warmth in your voice. We may not notice it, but when we are talking with someone we like, that warmth is there. Listeners want to feel liked.

> 4. Give yourself permission to be at ease. Secret tip: smiling into the mic actually helps. No kidding. Give it a whirl!


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Now for a fun little Listening Test.

After today’s webinar adventure in what not to do, I thought, Uh Oh! I’m a fast talker, too. Will I be putting my listeners through torture in my course? I’d better find out.

So I made two short audio clips (2 minutes each) to see how I sound at my normal “recording cadence.” They’re unscripted, without any editing.

At the same time, I thought I’d test basic amblent noise conditions, to see if what I hear in the background makes a big or little difference. I’ll be recording the course in my home studio, situated on a busy street. Clearly the fan intruded its sound. But amazingly, the cars whooshing by did not, even with the door wide ip open. Clapping even from 30 feet away was a definite sound problem. None of the usual suspects were present tonight: motorcycles, planes, trucks or car brakes. That’s a test for another time.

Ambient Open Door 

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Minimal Control Sound

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Here is what such a test should help identify as mentioned earlier:

Do I vary the pace?

Are there natural pauses?

Is there warmth in my voice?

Do sound at ease?

You can judge for yourself!

• • •

What I do know is that the very modestly priced Blue Mic’s USB SnowBall is a really terrific mic, that will not break your budget at $69.99. I’ve had mine for 6 years and it’s as good as new.

Enjoy!

And thanks for listening!

— Diane

P.S. Is a picture worth a thousand words?

Research results for that may have a profound effect on how we live & learn, or respond to whatever comes our way.

” Using functional magnetic resonance imaging technology, a new study reveals that people who consider themselves visual learners, as opposed to verbal learners, have a tendency to convert linguistically presented information into a visual mental representation. The opposite also appears to be true from the study’s results.”
Published in ScienceDaily.com
Source: University of Pennsylvania, 2009 as quoted.

Plus this from  Lake Superior State University:

  • Visual Learners. Approximately 65 percent of the population learns visually, responding well to visual cues such as pictures, notes and diagrams.
  • Auditory Learners. Approximately 30 percent of the population tends to retain information after hearing it.
  • Kinesthetic Learners. Approximately 5 percent of the population picks things up through touch or imitation.

 

VAK 2 montage by dac

Celebrating the visual, auditory and kinesthetic among us!

• • •

 

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