I participated in a webinar the other day. It was one I was really looking forward to attending and I hoped I would get a lot out of it. I logged in, took out a notebook, and put in my headphones. I was ready to go—until I heard the presenter’s voice. It was crackly and soft, with static and random office noises in the background. I was ready to take this webinar very seriously, but clearly the presenter didn’t share my sentiment.
I continued to watch the webinar, but was very distracted. I found my mind wandering, the volume turned down, and the carefully prepared slides all but forgotten. I’ve found that too often, this is the trend with webinars: the presenter has spent a lot of time preparing slides with carefully selected images, clever infographics, and other visualaids but has neglected to think about how the webinar will sound.
How can you make sure your webinar audio is as great as your visual content? Start with these easy fixes:
- Write a Script. Write a basic script outlining the overall arc of your presentation, including which points go with which visuals and the information you plan on saying that isn’t already written on the slides. If more than one person is presenting, be sure to include who will cover which topics and points and where they fit into the presentation.
- Be prepared. Your presenter should be ready to talk about the subject and answer questions about it. Confidence is key; remember, you can hear a smile. A presenter lacking confidence will speak in an unclear, timid voice. It can be helpful to give your presentation for a colleague before you “go live” with the webinar.
- Set up a quiet place. Background noise can be a huge distraction for attendees. Even if your office is usually quiet, be sure to tell those around you that you’re going to be presenting a webinar. Close your door. If you share an office space, use a quiet conference room. Be sure you won’t be interrupted. Most importantly, turn off your cell phone.
- Check your connection. Before your webinar starts, do a test by connecting to your webinar software and asking a colleague to join you from another computer. Run through the introduction of your presentation, and ask your colleague to listen to how it sounds. If the audio weak, make sure your phone is correctly set up with all cords properly connected. If you’re using an internet connection exclusively, use a headset and be sure it’s correctly connected as well.
- Record lengthy scripts in advance. If you encourage attendees to ask questions at the end of your presentation, instead of while you’re speaking, you can use pre-recorded audio to make your major points. You can record the presentation yourself or use a professional voice over talent. If you’re not sure about the clarity of your own voice, using a professional voice is usually the best way to go. Voice Talents can take your direction to ensure extremely listenable content.
- Don't be monotone.Perhaps the worst part of the webinar I watched was the presenter's monotone voice. Maybe he couldn't have helped it, but listening to a voice devoid of all inflection is, well, boring. A conversational, friendly, upbeat and interested voice will better serve the listeners. It will increase the likelihood that they will pay attention and improve their understanding and comprehension of the content.
Poor audio can be distracting for learnersso be sure that your webinar includes the best possible audio content. If you are asking people to take the time to attend your event, be sure you’re making it worthwhile. Additionally, if you record your webinars for your website, don’t let bad audio be a continued embarrassment.
Download our Script Tips Compilation to learn more about putting together a script for your next webinar.
If you're ready to record a voice for your next presentation, visit the Holdcom Audio Production Store.