Ask Tibby: How to deliver value in your Brainshark audio

Ask Tibby: How to deliver value in your Brainshark audio
March 23, 2009
These are questions that were submitted during our webinar on script writing and recording audio.

Question:  I'm a product specialist, not necessarily a professional speaker - if I use an 'um' or stumble over a word - is it critical that I edit that out?

Tibby:  The goal is always to deliver clean audio.  If you have a good script then you are not likely to have the need for an "um" since this is a pause that we use so that our mouth has something to do while it waits for our brain to give it direction.  Since you can easily re-record a single slide of audio it is usually worth the effort and your audience will be the happier for it.

Question:  You keep mentioning that we must follow a conversational do you keep abandon rate with a conversational tone when a presentation is 20-25 min long?

Tibby:  Great question.  The answer is value and tone. The first key is value.  If every slide and therefore everythign said on every slide brings value to the viewer then you will have a successful presentation.  Your viewers will respond to perceived value and a conversational tone will help reduce abandon rates by keeping the delivery engaging.  Changes in tones and emphasis are part of engaging the audience and keeping them involved.  Monotone delivery that drones on will quickly lead to departing viewers regardless of the overall presentation length. 

Question:  My group is going to use Brainshark for training on a huge software change. Do you have any advice for training that is going to be lengthy (significantly more than 10 min)? How do I keep the learners engaged?

Tibby:  The key thing to keep in mind is effectiveness.  Current data indicates that our tolerance for long presentations has decreased.  Between ADHD, email, voice mail, meetings, instant messaging and doing more with less we all have less time.  Know your audience and don't send a 30 minute presentation to people who do not have 30 minutes to watch it.  Instead be sensitive to their ability to process the data and break into chewable parts.  Create 3 -10 minute presentations instead.  You will get better viewing numbers and your audience will appreciate the content and retain more because they will have stay focused for each 10 minute block rather than losing focus at 10 minutes and missing 20 minutes of content.

Question:  If slides have good animation, is it OK to have longer narration than 30 seconds?

Tibby:   it is not an animation question it is a consumption question.  Each slide should have one theme with as many as 4 key points that support the theme.  More often than not this can be done in 30 seconds or less.  If your slides are extending to the 60 second range then I would hypothesize that you are trying to cover too much material in a single slide.   Each slide is a page in the book of this presentation.  I stipulate that it is better to have a 20 page book with 20 pt font than a 10 page book with 10pt font.  Viewers like to feel like the content is moving, progressing.  Slides that are too long often lead to what I (to use another metaphor) call "speed bumps" in the flow of the presentation.  Speed bumps lead to off ramps and off ramps are bad.

Question:  Would you say that animation plays a big part in catching the student's attention while taking the course.

Tibby:  While I would agree that animation and visual enticement is helpful in gaining attention; the key to grabbing and keeping the audience is well-delivered, impactful audio.  You can communicate more with your words and intonation in a shorter amount of time then you can do visually or with text.  The audio elicits an emotional response that must be considered, manipulated, planned and delivered by the speaker.   The slide/visual object is the guide for the audio.  The power of the content comes from the audio, which is why scripting and practicing are critical elements to delivering good audio and therefore having successful presentations.

Question:  When creating the script and working with different speakers, how do you reach a consensus on what needs to be stated and the way it sounds best, so that everyone is comfortable and happy.

Tibby:  Another great question.  Just asking this question shows that you are on the right track!   In our 6 Steps to SuccessTM communication strategy; the first step to a successful communication is to agree on the objective of the communication.  Once everyone involved is on-board with the objective, then you will need to map out how the objective will be achieved (how the story will be told) and then who is responsible for which piece of the story.  Now whether everyone is comfortable and happy is another question.  At some point you have to build the communication and get the word out.  Consensus is a great objective for each project but not always attainable.

Question:  As a new Brainshark user, I'm not fully aware of its total alluded to in a prior question, is there a way to edit a particular piece of the audio without doing the entire slide over again?

Tibby:  Yes.  You can easily download the .mp3 audio file from any single slide, edit that audio and then replace the audio by uploading the new .mp3 audio file.  With that said, this may be more work than actually re-recording the whole slide.   If you write a script and you keep the slide length to the 30 second range then this means you can easily re-record a slide in 30 seconds or less.

Question:  Do you have problems with narrator being able to read the script while also clicking to trigger the slide animations and work the phone recording process? Some narrators seem to be challenged by all this multitasking. Do you usually have someone sit with the narrator who can do animation clicks, etc so the speaker can focus on his script?

Tibby:  This is not a very common concern but I have heard it before and I recommend the solution I use myself when recording.  Set the animations that need to be connected to the spoken word to appear "On Click".  Don't worry the speaker with setting these timings, let them focus on delivering quality audio.  After the slides are recorded, log in and go to the edit slide screen and set the animation timings for each slide.  The reason for the On Click setting is so that you can manage these animation timings in Brainshark. 

Question:  Is there someone we can contact for suggestions who can preview our presentation/course before we enroll students?

Tibby:  We have just released a new free service called Presentation Success Review and Feedback.  This gives you the ability to send your Brainshark presentation to our Customer Success Group where one of our highly qualified Customer Success Consultants will review your presentation and give you feedback on ways to improve it.  All you have to do is send your contact information and the presentation link to

Have a Sharktastic day!