1- How to Deal With The Period When People Are Working In Groups
When people are working in groups, you don’t want to do any recording at all. A group session is often very disorganised, no matter how clear the instructions. This is because people are getting to know each other, getting to grasp with the content/assignment, and mostly because they’re just taking a mental break. What we tend to do at our workshops is use the 1:1:1 method. If you were to split up a session into three parts, I’d speak for a third of the time, the group would go for a discussion a third of the time, and they’d come back to the room to report (and that would take a third of the time). You want to record the first third and the last third, but not the middle section where they leave the room.
This gives the sound engineer a break. It also allows for a change of batteries, backups of recorded audio etc. Recording everything that’s transpiring is not a good practice. You want “solid thoughts” to be recorded. When you present, that’s a solid thought. When the members come back to present, again it’s mostly solid. The in-between sessions (where they discuss) is quite disorganised. And it’s best to leave that discussion alone.
2- What are your top 3 tips for making a good sound recording?
The room is the most important thing of all.
When you’re choosing a venue, step into the room and clap your hands. Do you hear an echo? Well that’s not the best of rooms to choose. If you’ve got limited choice/budget then that’s the room you’ll have to pick, but in most cases you want a room that’s not echo-ridden. An echo will not only create rather shoddy recordings but also cause the audience to get tired more easily.
Keeping the audience alert
This may not be a sound issue, but it reflects on the audience participation. Keeping the audience moving every 40 minutes or so with some activity helps get a great recording. If you schedule some sort of break/activity every 40 minutes or so, it gives you a rest. And it gives the audience a rest. 99% of all workshops/seminars don’t understand this simple principle. Audiences find information very tiring. And when the audience is tired, you can feel the lack of energy over the audio. A vibrant audience laughs, jokes, and keeps the audio fresh. A tired audience does quite the opposite. Plus you get no breaks, and the sound engineer gets no breaks. And you can see why it’s such a blooming disaster.
Preventing yourself from going hoarse and tired
Again not a tip you expected for recording, but a critical tip nonetheless. When I first started giving seminars I was the presenter from hell. I’d have twenty thousand slides and I’d talk incessantly, and of course I’d get tired and hoarse. The tiredness came from just going on endlessly and not giving the audience a break/activity every 40 minutes or so. This tiredness reflects in your audio. And that’s only part of the problem. The other part is losing your voice. When you’re speaking, it’s not uncommon to stoop a bit. Or in the breaks, you may be giving advice or direction and leaning forward. This will constrict your shoulder muscles and then your neck muscles. And when the neck muscles get pulled back, you start getting hoarse and eventually grunt through everything.
I tend to stand most of the time, because if I sit, I tend to lean forward and talk. So for me at least, standing up for most of the day is the best solution. If I do sit, I have to make a conscious effort not to lean forward. So be aware of your posture. Your posture will not only give your audience a clear signal of authority, but also help you speak for days on end—with breaks of course.
* I once had a workshop that lasted a whole week. When I started out in my business, a half day workshop would tire me and a two day workshop would drain me of all energy. When I started paying attention to posture, breaks etc. I could go for a week (or more) without any problems whatsoever.