Simple Ways to Record a Natural Sounding Speech

Maybe you are a pretty good speaker but when you try to record speeches they always sound wooden, hesitant or just plain boring. Luckily there are some simple methods that anyone can apply to make recordings sound better, and perhaps also easier to make, using no more than a laptop and free sound recording software.

Before you start recording, though, make sure that you have practiced the delivery of the speech so that it sounds as natural as possible. Avoid reading a script, using instead a list of keywords to jog your memory about the key ideas. Unless you are a highly-trained actor it is very unlikely that you will be able to deliver a convincing performance from a written script.

Then when you have mastered the content use these best practices to capture a good recording.

RECORD THE SPEECH USING SOFTWARE THAT ALLOWS EDITING. Record your speech using a laptop with digital audio workstation software like the free Audacity package, which you can download free from  http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ or the new ProToolsFirst free version of the industry-standard ProTools package. You can also use audio recording tools like Hokusai on a tablet or even on a smartphone in an emergency. The advantage of these tools is that you can very easily cut pieces out of the recording, adjust levels, adjust speed and otherwise improve the recording. You don't need much skill in sound recording to do the basic editing; with tools like Audacity you can literally cut and paste chunks of sound with your mouse.

WARM UP YOUR VOICE BEFORE YOU START. If you start from cold and speak for a few minutes you'll notice that your voice probably doesn't stabilize for the first minute or two. If you try to warm up the voice then pause before the actual recording there will still be a brief time when your voice is still warming up. The way to avoid these problems is to talk for a few minutes then segue smoothly into your speech with just a short gap. Start the sound recording software before you start the warm-up and leave it running until you have finished the recording of the speech. Later you can trim the recording to remove the warm up. You can warm up saying anything you want, though I usually just use the introduction of the speech repeated a few times until it feels smooth.

RECORD IN ONE LONG, CONTINUOUS TAKE. A professional actor can record a speech then go back later and record additional words to correct an error with a voice that matches exactly the tone of the original recording. Normal speakers rarely have that skill so it is much easier simply to avoid the problem. Instead you should start the recording, then the warmup and then the speech in one long continuous take. Don't start and stop the recording because that can be distracting. What happens if you make a mistake? Simple, just repeat that section again. You can always delete all the bad sections later using the editing tools. To make this easier for yourself it helps to mark bad sections by making a loud click which can be seen very easily in the recording.

These best practices will help you to make a better recording, but you will still need to make sure that the delivery is good even to a live audience. There are some things that you can fix in the editing and post production, but if the speech sounds boring there is no ProTools or Audacity plugin that can fix that.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about public speaking and other communication topics you can reach me by email at conseil@andrewhennigan.com, by phone at 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or 0046 730 894 475 or through my website http://andrewhennigan.com.

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