Adding audio to your slide presentation for the Web can make it much more user friendly and keep people interested in your message from start to finish. If you want people to listen and watch, then you need to have a strong script, an interesting visual presentation, and a clear, understandable audio recording that is properly synced with your presentation.
Tips for Preparing Your Script
When you want to add audio to a presentation, taking the time to think through what you want to say and prepare yourself for recording it successfully can make all the difference between success and a sub-standard result.
1. Write a script for your slide presentation.
I might start in Word, but when I’m ready to practice I prefer to put my script in a presentation program (PowerPoint or Keynote) so that I can add the specific text I’m going to say in the Notes section of each slide. I look at the presentation program when I record my audio, so having everything in one place makes it easier to coordinate the script with the images as I talk through the slides.
2. Use language that your audience can relate to when you write your script.
If you’ll have a varied audience, be sure and define your terms and avoid acronyms if they sound unnatural when speaking.
3. Set a target time for the full presentation with audio.
If you’re aiming for a marketing tool, keep it around 90 seconds. If your focus is delivering information, you still need to keep your presentation as short as possible.
4. After you write your basic script, practice your delivery a number of times before you even think about making a recording.
I use the practice time to refine and correct my script. For example, if I say something other than what I wrote or if I trip over any words or phrases, I mark those spots and adjust my script accordingly. It’s important to be critical and exacting at this stage so that the script you end up with is close to what you will naturally say while recording. When your text flows smoothly from start to finish your delivery will be confident and more interesting to your audience.
5. Remember that people make decisions very quickly when they are listening to and watching your presentation.
Keep your script and delivery energetic and to the point. If you don’t sound interested in what you’re saying, you can’t expect anyone else to be either.
6. Be prepared to go through the recording process more than once.
Be sure to save your work frequently and keep the final version. After you see and hear the audio with your presentation, you might decide to make changes in your script or slides. It may take more time, but if your changes improve the presentation then it’s worth the time for a do-over (or 2).
Tips for Recording
Once you’re ready to record, plan to make practice recordings and listen to them as well.
Practice recordings will reveal any remaining trouble spots with your script and they will give you a better idea of how people will hear what you’re saying.
Use an external mic with a boom so that you can adjust the positioning and improve the clarity of your voice. We’re fond of headset mics by Plantronics, you’ll find a variety of models listed under PC & Gaming.
Plan to record in a quiet place and avoid moving around while speaking.
Some folks prefer to stand up while they talk; others place pictures of people on their desk and imagine that they are actually talking to someone—rather focusing on listening to themselves talk.
Do some test runs to record audio with your mic in different positions (in relation to your mouth) so that you can hear the results and then decide which placements give you the clearest sound.
Keep a hand-held mirror on your desk to help you be consistent with mic placement once you figure it out.
DO NOT change the position of your mic during a recording or between recordings if you want to splice sections of different recordings together.
If you nail the first half of one take and the second half of another, the combination will be more successful if your mic position is consistent.
Audacity is an excellent free program that will meet basic audio recording needs and it’s compatible with Windows and Mac.
Pause at the beginning of your presentation, between each slide, and whenever you make a mistake.
If you make a mistake in the middle of your presentation, you don’t have to start your recording over—just pause and begin that section again.
As you combine the audio with the slide presentation, it’s much easier to edit out pauses and do-overs when you allow a couple of seconds of silence to signify a needed edit.
You don’t necessarily need to announce a do-over, but you can say whatever you want to get yourself back in the groove and cut those parts later when you edit.
Edit out all pauses, ums, ahs or other verbal tics.
It’s essential to keep the pace of your delivery up without rushing incoherently.
It never hurts to start recording with a smile on your face—it helps your voice sound friendlier.
Finally, make sure that you vary your intonation and speed of delivery.
A droning monotone will never do your content justice!