We all recognize the sound of poor quality audio when we hear it. Whether it’s unwanted static, an echo, or ambient room noise, bad audio can distract your learners from the content in your e-learning course and prevent them from clearly receiving your message. Although I am a big fan of using professionally recorded narration voice over, the cost alone can prevent this from being an option for many people. There’s also a perception that creating top-quality audio yourself is equally costly.
The truth is, recording and creating high quality audio for e-learning doesn’t require professional-grade tools, special training, or a multi-thousand dollar budget. All it takes is a few simple, cheap, and sometimes free tools and tips.
Here are five tips for recording your own high quality audio for e-learning.
1. Specify Some Pronunciations Hints For The Recording
Some company names are spoken differently in some languages. The more you provide audio or written pronunciation samples, the less you need to rerecord. Sometimes it makes sense to have a person in your company who is responsible for voice talent text issues and who can speak the desired target language. Using terms that are unique to a field can slow down a recording.
If you use medical, technical, or other specialized vocabularies, communicate the pronunciation of these words and acronyms in the script to the voice actor prior to the recording. If you want the voice actor to read „pauses“ in the script, you can add an ellipsis like 3 dots (…) or write the word “pause” in brackets when you need that extra half-second of silence.
2. Bullet a few talking points or jot down a short script
Whether you’re recording yourself or someone else, it’s a good idea to prepare a few talking points or a short script for each piece of audio you’re planning to record. Having a few talking points or a quick script at hand will keep you focused on delivering the content your learners really need. It also can keep you from repeating yourself.
Another important benefit of taking time to jot down talking points or a script is that you’re much less likely to pepper your recording with disfluencies—those patterns of speech that can be credibility killers like “um,” “right,” “like,” and “ah.” These common speech-fillers are like verbal viruses that tend to infect your speech—especially when you’re feeling nervous or on-the-spot—weakening your message and making you sound amateurish or unskilled.
3. Use a decent headset or stand-alone microphone
For most of us, the audio quality we can get from a headset with a good-quality microphone is going to work just fine. But if you’re going to record audio regularly and need consistent, high-quality results, it may be worth investing in a stand-alone microphone with a stand and a pop filter.
There are different types and qualities of stand-alone microphones out there—many in the $100 to $200 range. So, it can be helpful to read product reviews and do your own research to narrow-in on the best one for your budget.
A good general rule is to avoid using your computer’s built-in microphone. Those mics tend to pick up every little noise—including the sound of your computer’s fans and hard drives.
4. Find a quiet spot to record
You probably don’t have access to a professional recording studio with granular control over your environment. The next best thing is to reserve a quiet conference room or a small office. Reuse that same space every time you record, so that your recordings sound consistent.
Here are more tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid high-traffic areas. Try to find a spot that’s away from busy foot traffic areas where it’ll be difficult to avoid the sounds of people walking by or talking outside the door.
- Post a sign on the door. Something like, “QUIET PLEASE. AUDIO RECORDING IN PROGRESS.” can help remind folks to quiet down.
- Record during off-hours. Schedule your recording time for a time of day when things tend to be quieter, such as early mornings or after 5 p.m.
5. Do a test recording
You know what you want to record. You’ve jotted down your talking points, grabbed your headset, and found a quiet spot. The next step is to start recording audio, right? The answer is: Yes and no.
Before you start recording every piece of audio, it’s a good idea to do a quick test recording to make sure that your audio sounds clear, and you’re recording at a good volume. Most voice over recording software makes it pretty easy to do a quick test recording and play it back. When you’re done recording, listen to the clip to confirm that your audio sounds clear, you don’t sound too rushed, and the volume and background noise levels are good.
Again, creating high-quality audio doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or technical know-how. And with these few audio basics and a little bit of planning, you’ll be an audio recording pro in no time!