The Benefits of Audio Recording: One Author's Viewpoint

Late in the process of writing The Road to AUM, the professional assisting with the book production asked about an audio recording. It had crossed my mind but I could not imagine how best to define what type of voice–what gender, what knowledge of the industry, what tone–would be most fitting. As the book is more of a how to than a fun story to tell, it added complexity. As the book came together it became clear that the content would make a compelling curriculum series–a way for teams, classes and organizations to fully integrate the book’s content into their businesses. This revelation lead to another–that I should do the audio recording myself, at least the phase I version. This would permit Noble Ark Ventures to create podcasts or various sections of the book to work along with a curriculum series.

The audio recording was produced over 13 hours of in studio time at A2C Productions in  Massachusetts. On the third floor of a lovely community church sits a soundproof studio run by Atsushi Tanimura. The process was fascinating. The sound checks, the repetition, the corrections……there were 900 ‘retakes’ of content over the 13 hours, and if you elect to listen to the audio recording, you’ll probably think there should have been many more. These were not content failures so much as exhaustion coming through on the audio. Who speaks that clearly and succinctly for hours on end? It is challenging to say the least. Especially with tongue twisting words like ‘institutions’ and ‘institutional’ and ‘managers’ and ‘research management’. Said once, no problem; said hundreds of times in short succession, a lot more challenging. I already truly appreciated the play Hamilton that I had the distinct pleasure of seeing in NYC a few years ago, but now I appreciate it in a whole new light. Talking clearly and efficiently is hard work.

One invaluable lesson I learned is that you should always complete the audio recording, or complete an out loud, word for word, reading of text–before you publish. For it was in that studio, faced with a microphone and the need to enunciate that I found text abnormalities most readily. When you read silently, particularly something you’ve read hundreds of times before, it all passes right through your brain. You miss things. A lot of things. Misspellings, wrong word use, wrong word choice, lack of hyphenation, too much hyphenation, misplaced commas and colons. Yes, the active exercise of speaking clearly and out loud is what generated the cleanest review of the content. It’s still not perfect and that is ok. Particularly with The Road to AUM, the end sections of quotes were challenging because every effort was made not to edit the wording, even though it was a compilation of off the cuff, in person anecdotes and thus consistently lacked the ‘polish’ of an edited quote or sentence of text.  If you look hard enough, or perhaps not even that hard for those of you who are grammar super stars, you can find some places where a 2nd edition will come in handy. For the rest of us, consider doing an audio recording. Its an awesome adventure. Perhaps you can record something for people in your life, for your business or simply for yourself. Capture your voice and your ideas. Spend some time doing something completely outside of your comfort zone. At the very least, you’ll make your written work far better in less time.