Brainshark Fall 2014 User Group and Workshop Recap: Part 1 – Audio

Brainshark Fall 2014 User Group and Workshop Recap: Part 1 – Audio
November 24, 2014

This fall, the Brainshark Customer Community and Learning & Development teams hit the road and visited 19 cities for our Build a Better Brainshark Workshops and User Group Meetings. From London to Toronto, Los Angeles to New York City, and Des Moines to Pittsburgh, we met hundreds of customers who make all sorts of Brainshark presentations for a variety of use cases.

This is the first in a 3-part deep dive into best practices for Brainshark authors that were discussed at these meetings. In these articles, we’ll cover the following topics: audio, slides and the end user experience. We also suggest you review 10 Keys to Creating Engaging Brainshark Presentations, which focuses on planning your presentation.


More than half of all Brainshark presentation audio is recorded using a USB microphone. Other options are the telephone and pre-existing MP3 audio files. Let’s look at some of the different ways audio can be used to enhance your Brainshark content.

Background Audio

If you choose to add music, you may want to add it to the entire presentation (generally for a less than 3-minute presentation) or to those slides that have no narration, opening and closing slides, and a slide that denotes a transition from one topic to another. (Read this blog post for background audio tips you can learn from music in TV commercials.)

Where can you find music? Starting December 6, 2014, you’ll be able to choose royalty-free music of 4, 10, 30 and 60-second versions. The files will be available under Manage Audio > Background Audio from the “Things you can do” menu. For a Background Audio tutorial click here.

Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 1 

A few things to watch out for when adding background audio:

  • A song that is not in the spirit of the presentation.

  • Background music that is too loud and competes with the narrator. In general, when there is narration, try keeping background music to 5% or 10% volume. For full volume music, use the default setting of 40%.

  • A song that repeats itself multiple times. This can get annoying. The default setting in Brainshark is “Continuous”, which means if the song is too short, it will repeat during the slides you have chosen to use background audio on. In Playback Mode, you can choose “Play Once.”

Fall 2014 User Group and Design Like an Artist Workshop Recap: Part 1


Authors working with their site administrators can add additional music to their “Media Library” or go to the Third-Party Tools page for a provider that offers a 20% discount.

Multiple Voices

You might consider multiple presenters either on a single slide or at various points in the presentation to highlight a concept, signify a transition, or just break up a long presentation. (This blog post takes a look at some audio lessons you can learn from radio news.)

How can you have multiple voices on a single slide?

  • Set up a conference call with Brainshark’s voice recording system

  • Use a tabletop microphone that multiple presenters can share

  • Go into a studio

Multiple presenters on a single slide can be used for role plays or interviews with subject matter experts/executives who may not be the most engaging narrators.

Reading Slides

Unless accentuating something specific, such as a mission statement or key concept, do not read the on-screen text.

Professional Narrators

Hiring a professional can be appropriate for high-profile content or if there is nobody appropriate to deliver the content (i.e. accents).  The concern with a professional voice is that the presentation may lose authenticity and credibility with certain audiences such as employees. Brainshark Professional Services can help provide a wide range of voices.

In summary, the key with audio is to mix it up. A predictable presentation can cause an audience to tune out. When possible, use various slide types, videos, animations, background audio, a second presenter, and pause slides to keep your audience engaged. According to frequent Brainshark webinar presenter Carmen Simon of RexiMedia, no matter how you are presenting slides (online, on-site, or on-demand) something different should be happening every 4-6 slides. (Read this blog post from Carmen for details on what audiences remember from PowerPoint presentations.)

For a complete list of the 60+ Brainshark features go this page in Help and Training.

To see presentations that incorporate many of these best practices, check out the Customer Presentation Gallery.