- Getting attendees to join?
- A spectacular video?
- An inspiring, big name presenter?
- Considering the audience?
- Defining the purpose?
- Preparing fully?
- Using your great hosting skills?
Actually, all those are useless if the audience can’t hear what’s going on. I’m not referring to accessibility for the hearing impaired here but I will come back to closed captions in another Quick Tip.
If you think about it, you can afford to lose the webcam video, the text chat, the presentation slides or even the shared screen but if the sound disappears, you might as well pack up and go home.
One of the great advantages of using an integrated webinar solution rather than a separate VoIP system or teleconference service plus screenshare is that there’s no extra setting up or co-ordination to do, no need for extra instructions for the audience.
I often reflect that it’s remarkable that audio has caused far more issues for me over the years than joining the Webinar via a computer.
Generally, the Webinar environment is fairly stable once any plug-ins have been installed and set up and things rarely change until the software itself is updated. Participants can use different computer equipment of course which does cause access issues.
However, in my experience, many more things can go wrong with audio because there is so much more variation between audio equipment attendees use and how frequently they can change the way they try to connect to the audio.
So what can be done to ensure the best possible audio experience for the audience?
Well there are certain things you can control:
You can make sure the audio is the best quality it can be at the source by paying attention to the experts in podcasting and radio, so:
- Use a wired connection for VoIP
- Use a dynamic microphone rather than a condenser microphone for VoIP
- Use a good-quality telephone headset or noise-cancelling speaker phone for teleconferences
- Invest in a mixer to enable sound effects or music
- Brief all presenters on good microphone technique
- Ensure the room you are in has plenty of sound dampening material
You can make sure the audience are supported to join the audio conference or stream as in Webinar Quick Tip 4:
- Provide joining advice in the format which is most appropriate for your audience – written, or screencast
- Put on dummy Webinars for practice
- Make sure they know what not to do e.g. using open speakers instead of a headset or earbuds
- Be proactive about muting noisy participants – even all of them – as long as they are kept informed by the early setting of ground rules
- Know when to try and help and when to cut your losses ad concentrate on the majority who can hear
…do all you can to make the sound from the source the best it can be, give the audience all possible advice and help but know when to stop. Just make sure you check the audio, then check it again, then check it again because without audio, there’s really no Webinar at all.