In case that you don't have the budget to hire an audio engineer I hope that you will find valuable the following 6 Tips for Producing Good Quality Audio Narrations.
The following post was inspired after reading Jesse's discussion Recording good-quality audio: What are some audio recording tips/suggestions you would recommend for instructors (non-pro voice artists) recording audio narrations for their courses? and relevant comments!
- Chunk the Narration
Yes, instructional design is involved at this phase! Chunk the narration to small parts. Record each chunk several times and review it. When you will feel comfortable enough record and use it. Record the same sentence/paragraph/chunk many times. Break the script down into logical chunks. Do not simply read the text, it is boring for the learner to read and listen the same content. Write a new script based on the written material. Also, it is a good idea to write some tips in the narration script. For example, give emphasis, higher your tone, etc. If you will not be the narrator don't use abbreviations. Your narrator maybe doesn’t know what do you mean and in some cases your learners as well.
- Proper Microphone
Use a good quality external microphone. Pretest the microphone to make sure that you are not getting "plosives" and adjust the gain so that the volume is not too high or too low. Also, avoid using the built-in microphone of your computer or a hand-held recorder. By using a headset microphone with full ear cover headphones you will keep the same distance for the presenter's mouth, and you will avoid fade-outs if the presenter turns his/her head. Not too close, not to far. You audience do not want to hear "mouth sounds". However, the closer the microphone the better the tonal range and dynamics. Please see proximity effects.
(What audio microphone do you use? Please leave a comment)
- Background Sounds
Use a quiet location. Try to eliminate background noises such as telephones, traffic, air-conditioners, etc. Also, turn off anything that makes a sound. If possible, use a laptop or a noiseless computer. Don’t use paper to read, as it is noisy. If you must use paper make the print large enough and try to place it somewhere that the paper's sound will be illuminated. A better solution would be to use an iPad/tablet.
- Voice Recording
Complete the recording at the same day. It is really easy our tone of voice to change! Try to eliminate "er"s and "um"s and accidental omissions. Maintain proper tone and pace of voice, and emotional quality while recording to hold the listener. You can put more vitality into the recording by moving around or having audiences. Keep relaxed and try to be dynamic an interesting to the audience. Don't over act! Based on your audience proper your voice. You do not use the same voice when you speak to your students, learners, colleagues, family, etc.
- Audio Editing Software
Audacity is one of the best user-friendly audio editing software. Here is a list of 15 Free Podcast Tools that you may find useful.
(What audio editing software do you use? Please leave a comment)
- Revision Procedures
After you finish your Voice Recording you may think that it is time to offer it to your learners. WRONG! You should revise your Audio for eLearning before you offer it to your learners. The following revisions procedures worked for me and I highly encourage you to follow them. Please see TOP 5 tips to Convert your Traditional Course into an eLearning format - Tip 5: Revision Procedures
It isn't an easy process to record a good quality audio for online education. The main question that I am thinking always is “What is a good quality audio?” The enemy of good is.... the better. Can we prepare, record, and finally produce a better audio narration? Of course we can. However, we should consider some other aspects such as, budget, time, technology, and our available resources in general. In my opinion, the ultimate judge of quality is your learner. This is why I will encourage you to survey your learners concerning the quality not only of the audio narration but also of the entire online course. Never an online course will be good enough. You should always try to find ways to make it better based on your learners’ feedback. that you may find useful.
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Christopher holds an MBA, and an M.Ed. (Learning Design) from BGSU and currently works as project manager at http://www.learn-e-pedia.gr S.A. (Antenna Group of Companies), which is the largest interactive learning platform from Greek-speaking students and learners across the Globe.Website: www.elearningindustry.com