If you’ve been speaking or running training seminars for any length of time, you probably have a pretty good collection of audio. In this article, we’ll talk about three things you can do to turn your recordings into products.
If you don’t already have an audio editing program, you can use a free program called Audacity. Is it a great audio program? No, but for the price – free – it’s pretty dern good. Be sure to download the mp3 plug-in so you can save your work as mp3 files.
To get your recording into Audacity so you can work with it, just drag and drop it out of the folder onto the program workspace. Simple so far, right? Now let’s clean up, enhance and romance the audio.
First, clean up – go through the recording and clean up anything that doesn’t add to the program. An audience member coughs – you use your “thinking word” a bit too often – or maybe there’s a little bit of feedback on your mic. Just click and drag over the offending audio, then hit the delete button to remove it. It helps to zoom in so you can see exactly where the audio starts and stops.
Second, enhance – you want to enhance the audio to give your voice more authority, and to bring the audience more into the mix. Start by enhancing your voice. Highlight the entire recording by either clicking and dragging, or clicking into the track, going up to the “edit” tab and choosing “select all” from the drop-down menu. If you like keyboard shortcuts, you can use those, too – “control A” on a PC and “command A” on a Mac are your “select all” shortcuts. You may want to equalize your voice, and you should compress it.
Equalization means to take parts of your vocal range and make them louder or softer. For women, we often need to enhance the low end of our range and reduce the high end, especially if we have any tendency towards sibilance, which is an essiness or hissiness in our voices when saying the letter “s” or a soft “c.” Most women have at least some sibilance problem. For men, you probably don’t need to enhance the low range, but might want to boost the midrange or high end. Spend some time playing with the different settings, decide what makes you sound best, and make a note of the settings you choose so you can easily repeat them for future projects.
Compression means to take the recorded voice, which is nowhere near as dynamic as the live voice, and make it sound more live. Again, start with the entire file highlighted, go to the “Effect” tab and select “Compressor” on the drop down menu. You can leave the threshold and attack times as they are, but probably want more compression than the default setting of 2.5. Start at a compression ratio of 5 to 1 and see how that sounds. If it’s too thick or “woofy” sounding, back it down by half a point at a time until you like the sound. If it doesn’t sound like enough of a change, move it up by half a point at a time until you like the sound. Again, write down the settings so you can repeat them on future recordings.
On most recordings, the audience is hardly apparent in the mix. Most presentations you do won’t have an audience mic, and your recording can sound like the audience isn’t reacting to you, when in fact they really were. To enhance the audience, click and drag to highlight just a small area of audience audio, maybe where they laughed at a joke you told. Go up to the “Effects” tab and in the drop-down menu, select “Amplify.” The default amplification is 4.5, so try that and see how it sounds. This part is trial and error – raise the volume on the audience until it sounds right to you. Be aware of the background noise, though, and don’t raise the volume to the point that an obvious change in the background noise happens. That becomes distracting to the listener, sometimes so much so that they miss your message or stop listening. Once you’ve decided what the appropriate volume increase is for your audience, use the same amplification at every point in your recording where you pause and the audience reacts. Don’t amplify yourself – just the audience.
Third – romance the audio. Have a different voice introduce you and do the marketing spiel at the end. Using another person to introduce you gives you more authority with an audience, whether live or on a recording. Adding a little bit of music under the intro and outro makes your program sound even better. Thankfully, Audacity makes it very simple to multi-track, which makes it very simple to add these other elements.
First get a speaker buddy or professional voice talent to record your introduction and marketing copy. Always make sure your contact information is part of the marketing copy at the end, and if you can give the listener a reason to visit your website – a code to enter for 10% off other purchases, a free white paper, newsletter, whatever – so much the better. Then split the track they’ve made for you by dropping the cursor between the intro and marketing copy, go to the edit tab and select “select” and then “start to cursor” from the sub-menus. Go back up to “edit” and select “split.” This moves the intro into a new track. Now go up to the tool bar and choose the “move” tool, which looks like an arrow with two points. Click and drag your recording so that when the introduction ends, your voice begins, and then repeat this process when positioning the marketing copy at the end of your program.
If you’d like to add music, first be sure you’re using music you’re allowed to use. If you didn’t write and record it, you need to get a license to use it. If you use Adobe Audition or Garage Band, you may have music there that you have license to use. Otherwise, there are a lot of sites on the internet where you can buy “royalty-free” music. Try to choose music that’s the correct length for your intro and marketing copy, otherwise you’ll need to edit the music, which can be tricky. Then drag and drop the music files onto the work space, position them under the opening and closing segments and listen to see if the music is too loud – it probably will be. On the left end of the music track is a volume control for that track. Slide the arrow to the left until you like the mix of voice and music. Repeat this process for the music you add to the end.
Mix it all down to a new, mono file and voila! You have an audio product. You can press it onto cd and sell it in hard copy or sell it as downloadable audio on your website. But the good news is you have something that will make you money for the rest of your life. Sounds like the beginning of a nice, new revenue river – now go play with the rest of your recordings and see how many more products you might have!
If this sounds like something you’d like to try but you’d like some hands-on training, get your association to bring me in for a seminar. We’ll have fun and you’ll learn what you need to learn to make your own products. If having products sounds like a good idea but you don’t have time to fool with all of this, good for you! Busy is a great problem, and we here at Voicework On Demand, Inc. will be happy to produce your products for you.
Do you have a question? I’d love to hear it, and maybe answer it right here. Helping people monetize their content is what we do!
Sandy Weaver Carman
CEO, Voicework on Demand, Inc.
I partner with writers, speakers, trainers and coaches, taking work they’ve already done and turning it into a new revenue stream. Ready to get your feet wet?