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Upcoming presentation at #InfoDevWorld: "Perfecting the Audio Narration in Instructional Videos"

Oct 21, 2014 • video

I'm giving a presentation this week at Information Development World on voiceover with video tutorials. My presentation is Thursday at 2pm. Here's the description:

Perfecting the Audio Narration with Instructional Videos

No matter what tool you use to create video tutorials, getting the voice right — sounding professional, clear, and friendly — is an art. You have to know to interact with your microphone, how to read your script sounding natural and at ease (often while driving the mouse), how to post-process your audio track without ending up with choppy background shifts, how to sync your voice with the timing of the video actions, and more.

In this session, you'll learn several fundamental techniques that can make your voice sound pleasing for users to listen to. By enunciating your words (opening your mouth wider), varying your pitch, reading ahead to know where the content is going, and understanding how to efficiently post-process your audio, you can transform what might be an otherwise weak voice into one that is clear, easy to understand, and professional. You'll also learn about different microphones and recording setups that work well for creating instructional videos.

I've given different flavors of this presentation several times before, and I think it gets better each time I give it. Interestingly, although I've contextualized this to be related to video tutorials, the techniques for good audio narration apply just as well to everyday speech. Enunciating, varying your pitch, breathing/pausing, and smiling are all good techniques for effective communication.

Since I first started researching voiceover, I have become self-aware of my own poor speech habits. It's easier to mumble rather than open my mouth to articulate my words. It's easier to relay something in a monotone pitch instead of actually varying my inflection. It's easier to forget about smiling, or pausing, and so on, and to just mutter something in a half-intelligible way.

But when I do remember to incorporate good speaking techniques, it tends to make a world of difference in whatever setting I'm in. So even though I've done far fewer videos now that I've been focusing on API documentation, because I speak every day, I've had plenty of opportunities to practice these same video narration techniques. It turns out this topic is more relevant to my life than almost anything else in tech comm.


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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.