How to record high-quality audio for e-learning
One smart way to engage learners in your course is to include audio to help explain concepts or provide more context. But not all audio is created equal. Low-quality audio—audio that’s grainy, too quiet, or full of distracting background noise—is really frustrating to listen to. And one recent study found that when audio quality makes it difficult for people to hear and process information, it actually makes that information seem less credible! This suggests that poor-quality audio in your e-learning could negatively impact how well your audience can engage with—and learn from—your material.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be an audio engineer or a professional voice talent to create high-quality audio for e-learning. Advances in audio technology mean nearly anyone can record great-sounding audio without breaking the bank. With a little know-how, the right e-learning tools, and a piece of equipment you may already have, you can easily record high-quality audio that makes your online training rich and engaging. Here are some basic tips that can help.
Consider how and where you’ll use audio in your course
Using audio in your online training allows you to talk to your learners and explain the content that you’re showing them. That makes it a great fit for explaining a complex process or providing more context, like recapping a decision-making scenario or providing more perspective on how customers are using a product feature, for example. And audio isn’t just for explanations and recaps. Some other popular ways to use audio include sharing messages from company leaders or spreading testimonials and best practices from coworkers.
The point is to take some time beforehand to consider how the information you’re sharing can be made richer and more helpful with audio.
Bullet a few talking points or jot down a short script
Whether you’re recording yourself or someone else, it’s a good idea to prepare a few talking points or a short script for each piece of audio you’re planning to record. Having a few talking points or a quick script at hand will keep you focused on delivering the content your learners really need. It also can keep you from repeating yourself.
Another important benefit of taking time to jot down talking points or a script is that you’re much less likely to pepper your recording with disfluencies—those patterns of speech that can be credibility killers like “um,” “right,” “like,” and “ah.” These common speech-fillers are like verbal viruses that tend to infect your speech—especially when you’re feeling nervous or on-the-spot—weakening your message and making you sound amateurish or unskilled.
Use a decent headset or stand-alone microphone
For most of us, the audio quality we can get from a headset with a good-quality microphone is going to work just fine. But if you’re going to record audio regularly and need consistent, high-quality results, it may be worth investing in a stand-alone microphone with a stand and a pop filter.
There are different types and qualities of stand-alone microphones out there—many in the $100 to $200 range. So, it can be helpful to read product reviews and do your own research to narrow-in on the best one for your budget.
A good general rule is to avoid using your computer’s built-in microphone. Those mics tend to pick up every little noise—including the sound of your computer’s fans and hard drives.
Find a quiet spot to record
You probably don’t have access to a professional recording studio with granular control over your environment. The next best thing is to reserve a quiet conference room or a small office. Reuse that same space every time you record, so that your recordings sound consistent.
Here are more tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid high-traffic areas. Try to find a spot that’s away from busy foot traffic areas where it’ll be difficult to avoid the sounds of people walking by or talking outside the door.
- Post a sign on the door. Something like, “QUIET PLEASE. AUDIO RECORDING IN PROGRESS.” can help remind folks to quiet down.
- Record during off-hours. Schedule your recording time for a time of day when things tend to be quieter, such as early mornings or after 5 p.m.
Do a test recording
You know what you want to record. You’ve jotted down your talking points, grabbed your headset, and found a quiet spot. The next step is to start recording audio, right? The answer is: Yes and no.
Before you start recording every piece of audio, it’s a good idea to do a quick test recording to make sure that your audio sounds clear, and you’re recording at a good volume. Most audio recording software makes it pretty easy to do a quick test recording and play it back. Even easier is using an all-in-one training platform like Rise, where audio recording capability is built right into the authoring environment. When you’re done recording, listen to the clip to confirm that your audio sounds clear, you don’t sound too rushed, and the volume and background noise levels are good.
Again, creating high-quality audio doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or technical know-how. And with these few audio basics and a little bit of planning, you’ll be an audio recording pro in no time!