How to Make a Viewpoint

Whether you’re an author, a researcher or a cultural organisation, the purpose of creating a viewpoint is the same: to bring a place to life by sharing stories, histories, descriptions, wisdoms or worldviews.

Not sure how to make a viewpoint? It’s simple. Read on for tips and best practice.

Key Tip

Before beginning, it’s worth reminding yourself of this key tip, as it’s important to both the preparation and the recording of your viewpoint.

The key tip is that you must always, and first of all, ground your participants at each place by telling them what they’re looking at.

Describe what the building is in very simple terms. Situate it in its immediate environment, and in the wider city (or equivalent).

Only then, when the participants really know what they are looking at, should you begin to expand your narrative for the main part of the viewpoint.

1. Prepare

  1. Some experts like to type out a script first. Some prefer to prepare bullets and speak more spontaneously. Non-scripted viewpoints tend to sound better, but either is fine.
  2. You probably speak at somewhere between 125 and 150 words per minute. So if you’re writing out a script, this means 300-400 words for a 2-3 min viewpoint.
  3. Assume your listeners cannot see anything. In other words, pretend you’re writing for the radio. This will encourage you to include lots of detail so the listener can ‘see’ the place in their mind’s eye.
  4. As per our key tip (above), spend the first few seconds describing the building, street and neighbourhood. You could mention any nearby landmarks. Give listeners a feel for the place so that they can imagine being there.
  5. You could also spend another few seconds setting the cultural context. If it’s a historical viewpoint, you could describe what the place was like at that time – people’s clothes, their behaviour, what was happening in the wider world.
  6. For the main part of the viewpoint, keep things simple. Keep it on a human scale. Limit yourself to a single narrative. Avoid multiple threads and eras (you can give each thread/narrative its own viewpoint)
  7. Again, be generous with details! People love to hear how things feel, sound, smell, and look.
  8. Speak as slowly as you can – it should feel strange to you how slowly you’re speaking!

2. Equipment

All you need is a computer or smartphone. At minimum, you don’t even need a separate microphone.

For a better sound, a lapel mic is ideal. And a simple earphones mic may also be good.

Whatever you use, do some quick test recordings to check the audio quality.

3. Record

  1. The easiest way to record is using our recording software. Go to ‘My Recordings’ and select ‘New Recording’. (If you want to use an external audio recording audio app, make sure the resulting audio file is MP3. Disclaimer: please read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy of any third-party apps or services you use)
  2. When recording, don’t wear synthetic clothes (e.g. waterproof jackets), as they make loud sounds that the microphone picks up
  3. Hold your smartphone (or attach the mic) somewhere around your heart. This prevents plosive sounds (words involving the letters P, T, B, J, etc.) impacting the mic. Plosives can easily ruin a recording.
  4. Do a few 10 second tests. Can you hear plosive sounds, or the sound of swallowing, breathing or any mouth sounds? If so, the mic is too close.
  5. This is probably the most important tip for recording: surround yourself with soft furnishings. The best quality viewpoints we’ve heard were recorded under a duvet! Seriously, if you can record under a duvet, please do so. If you can’t get under a duvet, cover all hard surfaces with pillows, cushions, rugs, etc.
  6. Practice the beginnings and ends of recordings. Be ready to start speaking as soon as you press ‘record’; and be ready to press ‘stop’ as soon as you finish speaking. Aim for zero noise (e.g. mouse clicks, ruffling material, or the sound of you drawing breath) in the intervening moments.
  7. Don’t be afraid to express your own personality in the way you speak. The listener wants to hear you – not an actor in a studio!

4. Publish

Go to ‘My viewpoints’ and follow the instructions for putting together and publishing a viewpoint. It’s an easy and logical process. You will be able to insert the recording you have already made, or upload from your device.

5. Promote

  1. Don’t be shy! The more people hear your viewpoints, the more they’ll share them, and the more new people will discover them (and you). And that’s the whole point.
  2. Each viewpoint has its own URL. This means that each viewpoint can be shared as a link via all the channels you can think of. E.g:
    1. Twitter
    2. Facebook
    3. Instagram
    4. WhatsApp
    5. Your blog
    6. A group email to all family and friends
    7. Send to ‘influencers’ – people you know who have their own audiences