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Good Audio

Doing ‘Stand and Deliver’ video clips for work can be intimidating for most who have never done any video recording before.  So, here are a few tips aimed at a successful recording.  This post is focused only on audio.

Audio is often deemed to be critical to any video.  In fact, poor audio quality is the fastest way to lose a viewer of your clip.  Your message may be rich with content, but if the audio distracts the viewer, the message will fail.  So, with a few ideas focused on creating quality audio with your next video clip, you can easily and quickly elevate the quality of your corporate stand and deliver messages.

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For me, the number one key to success is to use a reasonable microphone to capture your voice.  Relying on the built-in microphone of your smartphone or laptop is a bad idea and a step in the wrong direction.  These are omnidirectional microphones that try to record everything.  Whereas, an affordable directional microphone available for $50 to $75 dollars will dramatically improve your video.  Even the condenser microphone that is attached to your headset is a reasonable choice over the built-in microphones.  So, if you do not wish to spend even one dollar for a microphone, the earbuds with the attached mic that came with your smartphone may be a better option, if nothing else is available.

Clarity and Volume

It is important to record quality audio in order to maintain the audience’s attention.  As I said, this starts with a good microphone.  Now, when recording a voice-over or creating a narrative for your video clip, have the microphone on a stand or mounted in some manner.  Do not try to hand-hold the mic as it will create unwanted background noises that will distract the viewer.  Too much volume can be just as bad as too little volume.  So, placing the mic at the correct distance from your mouth will help ensure the correct audio levels.  If using a headset or your earbuds, try to limit head movements to minimize noise caused by the mic rubbing against your shirt or collar.  If your viewers cannot hear you, they will not appreciate your message.

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It is important to gather yourself and make your recordings at a managed pace.  You need to think about your delivery very carefully.  Pace is very important.  You cannot just ramble along like you do in a conversation.  Most people are poised to answer and do a poor job at active listening.  But, when you record your video clip, think about your listener and deliver the message in a controlled manner with pauses added.  Slow it all down.  Even in a 90 second video clip, you must use pace to make your narrative understandable.

Average speech rates:

  • Presentations: between 100 – 150 wpm for a comfortable pace
  • Conversational: between 120 – 150 wpm
  • Audio-books: between 150 – 160 wpm, which is the upper range that people comfortably hear and vocalize words
  • Radio hosts and pod-casters: between 150 – 160 wpm
  • Auctioneers: can speak at about 250 wpm
  • Commentators: between 250- 400 wpm

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Tone and Inflection

So many video clips have a slow, monotonous monotone to them and it is fatal to holding the attention of your viewer.  Monotone clips are dull, tedious, and repetitious; lacking in variety and interest.  So, to solve this problem, apply variance in your tone and pitch.  Focus on emphasis of key words or ideas.  Punch the key word harder then other words to catch the listener’s attention.  Like pace, tone and inflection play an important role in a quality narration.

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Pronunciation and Enunciation

Sometimes I trip over my own words.  Or, I just cannot spit out the correct word.  Pronunciation and enunciation are critical to the listener understanding your message. For people whose first language is not English, this can be very noticeable when they use a word that trips up the listener.   There are apps and online tools to help you learn the correct pronunciation of a word.  Remember, the spelling of a word does not determine the pronunciation of a word.  If your listener gets hung up on a word, they stop listening and often completely miss the next few points as they struggle to comprehend what you are talking about.  You lose them and it can be hard to recapture their attention.

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Good enunciation is the act of speaking clearly and concisely.  The opposite of good enunciation is mumbling or slurring. Pronunciation, which is a component of enunciation is to pronounce sounds of words correctly.

No one expects you to be a golden voice like James Errol Jones, Morgan Freeman, or the late, great, Don LaFontaine.  But, you can do significantly better than your normal speaking voice if you control pace, tone, and pronunciation.

Your own Voice

You are not a Simpson’s or Flintstone’s voice-over actor, so do not think that you need to be like Seth McFarland or Mel Blanc.  There is no need to animate your voice to excessive levels.  One of the most powerful aspects of audio recording is authenticity.  Your viewers can hear and feel the passion and emotion in your voice without amping it up to be cartoon-like.  Speak in your own voice and do not try to be something you are not.  Controlling pace, tone, and the other attributes may feel clumsy to begin with, but the more you do it, the easier and more natural it becomes.  Your viewers want to hear what you have to say.  So, be authentic and share your views.  They will appreciate it.

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I cannot say enough about how important it is to be well prepared in advance of your Stand and Deliver message.  The concept behind these messages is that they are thought to be a casual, non-scripted delivery.  But, if you just ramble along, it will be detected by the viewer.  Preparation is essential to the successful delivery of your so called, off-the-cuff message.

It is rare that you can deliver a message, even a short 90 second video clip, off the top of your head.  Good audio takes preparation.  Write a script of exactly what you want to say.  Good preparation will help to eliminate the excessive use of hems and haws, or the dreaded, ummms.

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To hem and haw means to dither, to speak hesitantly, usually because one is unprepared to speak or is attempting to avoid saying something in particular.  Hem and haw is also indicative to mean that a person is indecisive.  So, these interstitial breaks are undesired and negatively impact your presentation.  They are seen as a form of mumbling and procrastination in one’s speech.  The viewer instantly senses your evasiveness.  By being well prepared and reading from a script in a voice-over or using cue cards mounted behind the camera to guide your talk is a great way to deliver a powerful flow.


In the pace section of this post, I offered that you can deliver about 100 to 150 words per minute.  So a 90 second stand and deliver talk will be about 150 to 225 words depending upon your personal pace.  That is not very many words to deliver your message.  So, choose your words wisely and be efficient.  To put it into a visual context, this is only about 1/3rd to 1/2 of a typed page.  So, not very much at all.

Use this framework to structure your message.

  • What?
  • So what?
  • What next?

Finding a Good Place to Record

When you are ready to record your message.  Find the best spot to record in.  I once foolishly recorded a video clip in a Tim Horton’s restaurant, and another time in the waiting lounge of a small airport.  These locations had so much ambient background noise that they totally distracted the viewer from my message.  So, find a room without fans, flickering lights, and ventilation noises to record in.  Often the company board room may work well, or at home in the dining area.  But, if you have cats or dogs, they will become fascinated with whatever you are doing at exactly the wrong time – after you hit record!

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Consider the background view that others will see behind you.  Is there a mirror there?  There is a well-known YouTube clip of a young lady recording in her bathroom.  She failed to realize that the mirror behind her exposed her level of undress that the camera could not see from the straight-on shot.  So, always review your clips carefully before posting and have a friendly person check them out in advance too.  Rooms with hard walls and glass reflect audio and cause multipath distortions.  So, find a room with window treatments and carpeted floors, it will greatly help your audio.


You do not need to be George Lucus, Steven Spielberg, or J.J. Abrams to make these corporate videos.  You should take away that anyone can create them easily and successful with just a wee bit of effort and preparation.  Most importantly, have fun with them, do not stress over them, and be authentic – be yourself.  Getting the audio right will be a huge step towards becoming a corporate media maven and to build your social media eminence.

About the Author:

Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies.

He is a Senior Executive with IBM Canada’s Office of the CTO, Global Services. Over the past 14 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He was previously a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).

Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). 

He serves as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario.  For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. 

He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.