Guidelines for recording a viewpoint

Here’s our easy guide to producing top-notch audio recordings from home. For a longer and deeper guide on all aspects of podcast creation, check out Buzzsprout’s Guide.

Placecloud’s Guide

Writing

When you’re writing your viewpoint, imagine you’re standing at the place with a good friend, telling it to them. You’d be informal, colloquial, perhaps a little bit irreverent. If there was a word or person or idea they were likely not to know, you’d take a little time to it explain them. You’d speak slowly and clearly, ensuring they were able to follow you. You’d be enthused and energised. And perhaps most importantly, you’d transform your scholarly knowledge into a more human form: more like a story, with a beginning, middle and end.

Recording

It’s easy to make crisp, clean audio recordings on your smartphone. We’ve outlined a few tips, below. The three most important takeaways are:

  1. Record under a duvet or blanket, or wrapped up in a curtain
  2. Speak slowly – more slowly than feels natural
  3. Position the mic a foot or more away from your mouth (otherwise it picks up ‘mouth sounds’!)

(Here’s an example of an audio recording made using this method)

In more detail:

  1. To cut to the chase, your viewpoint won’t get through our vetting process if there’s any echo in the recording. Echo is caused by your voice hitting any hard surface and bouncing back. So if your voice can reach a wall, ceiling, table, laptop, etc., there will be an echo. The solution is to absorb the sound directly into soft material. In practice this means making a den with a duvet or blanket, perhaps draped over a clothes dryer. Or simply sit under a blanket, like a draped buddha. Or wrap yourself up in a curtain. In each case be careful not to speak into your laptop (if using one), as the sound will bounce back. Feel free to improvise, but don’t simply sit in a room, no matter how snug – there will still be an echo!
  2. The second biggest positive impact is to speak slowly – much more slowly than feels natural. This is really important for keeping listeners listening.
  3. Wear natural clothes. Synthetic clothes make sounds that the microphone picks up
  4. For the recording, simply use a voice recorder app on your smartphone. The audio file needs to be MP3, so if you use an iPhone, the ‘voice memo’ app is fine. On Android, we recommend you download an app called ‘MP3 Recorder‘. If you want to use your laptop instead of your smartphone, do use an external mic (laptop mics are no good). (If using a laptop, you could use Audacity for recording – it’s a free software used by millions. It seems a little complicated at first, but isn’t as daunting as it seems for those who are reasonably comfortable with technology. Here are some basic instructions)
  5. If you can, use a lapel mic. Attach the mic to your chest, above your heart
  6. If you don’t have a lapel mic, no problem. Simply hold your smartphone out in front of your chest, about 30cm away from your mouth. (You’ll need a mic if you’re using a laptop)
  7. The first few seconds (i.e. before speaking) are the most important for the listener – there should be no jarring sounds at all! If it turns out there are, simply trim them off afterwards (see point 14 below)
  8. Feel free to express yourself. People don’t want to hear an actor, they want to hear a unique human being – you!
  9. Please begin your viewpoint with, “We’re standing outside/in/near [the building or place]…” It works whether the listener is at the actual place, or virtually in Google Street View, or looking at photos
  10. Keep it simple. It’s better if a viewpoint contains one, single narrative. Don’t try to fit in multiple stories. (Make a new viewpoint for each one)
  11. Do ensure the viewpoint is ‘perennial’. E.g. instead of saying “last year,” say, “in 2020”
  12. After you’ve made your recording, listen through with earphones – most of your listeners will – it’s easier to hear quality issues such as echo
  13. When you’re happy, transfer you recording to your computer: simply press ‘share’ on the audio file, and the app will give you a list of options, e.g. using Dropbox, or Gmail etc.
  14. Once the audio file is on your computer, you might upload it to Audio Trimmer. This is a really easy, free, online service that allows you to trim the beginning and end of your audio. Having a smooth beginning, especially, makes a huge positive difference to the listening experience
  15. You now have a fantastic, clean audio file, ready to be uploaded into your viewpoint
  16. To create your viewpoint, simply visit your Dashboard via laptop/desktop, and get started from there
  17. If you have any questions please do contact us at [email protected]

MOST IMPORTANTLY – HAVE FUN 🙂

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