Narration is a critical component of Internet-delivered presentations. Here are some suggestions to make your narration more engaging and effective:
- Be brief and to the point. Online viewers have a very short attention span and they are only a single click away from leaving. The narration for each slide should be no longer than one minute and preferably less than 30 seconds.
- Use a script. Even though you may be highly effective as a stand-up or impromptu presenter, your online presentation does not benefit from your presence and charisma. More importantly, you do not have the benefit of watching and gauging your audience’s reaction and perhaps modifying your delivery accordingly.
- Edit and re-edit. Edit the script to produce the shortest possible way of delivering a clear, concise and focused message.
- Hire a Pro. Consider using a professional narrator and sound recording studio. This really depends on the objective of your presentation and on the intended audience. If, for example, you are using professionally prepared graphics, your presentation probably warrants professional narration. Try it out, review the results and judge for yourself.
- Identify the author of the presentation. Often viewers like to know who is speaking to them. Consider including a picture of the author, even if it is not the narrator, of the presentation.
One of the best pieces of advice for recording narration is to use a good quality microphone in a quiet environment. You can get a decent vocal microphone for as low as $15-$20. Generally, the microphone should be “unidirectional” (picks up sound in a single direction). “Omnidirectional” microphones pick up sounds from all directions, resulting in all noise in the room being recorded along with the voice. Most headset microphones will be unidirectional, whereas other free-standing computer mics are omnidirectional.
Position the microphone close to the person speaking (try 6 inches in front of the mouth). The exact distance will depend on how loudly the person speaks, the type of microphone, and the desired type of sound. You can also experiment with having the microphone in different positions relative to the mouth. For example, try positioning the mic directly in front of the mouth, below the mouth pointing up, above the mouth and nose, pointing down, to one side or other of the mouth, etc.
Most microphones will increase the level of bass frequencies when they are placed closer to the mouth. Close positioning will also increase the amount of detailed vocal sounds that are recorded. This can be a problem for such sounds as wind noises from the popping of “p” sounds and the sibilance of “s” sounds. Changing to a better microphone, or moving the microphone to a different location can help control these problems. Adding a nylon screen or foam mic head cover will cut down on these “pops” and “sss” sounds as well.
Presentations will be much easier for the listener to hear if all the words are spoken in a strong, consistent fashion, especially when converting the recorded output to an Internet audio format like ours. The dynamic range of Internet audio and other highly compressed files is very limited. Words that are suddenly very soft in a sentence may be lost in the translation.