Using Audio and Sound to Engage Learners

Can you imagine what a lecture would be without sound?  It would be like watching a silent movie and having to read all of the words from the professor on a screen.  Audio is so important to keep learners engaged and include those who depend on sound for their input.  We spend most of our day listening to music, hearing ads and watching videos on the Internet, and speaking with our colleagues, friends, and family.  How can a trainer or teacher use audio to make their teaching more successful?

Well, the most obvious way is to use public speaking or performing skills to engage your audience.  Beyond a simple comfortability with the materials, simply getting in front of an audience and speaking with confidence can make a difference.  Use varied vocal inflections, keep your voice at an easily-audible volume, and avoid using filler words such as “um” or “you know”, or others.  Be sure to keep up the pace too, as speaking slowly can put your audience to sleep, and speaking too fast can either confuse or lose your audience altogether.  Finally, add a little excitement to your voice… monotonous voices can cause your audience to lose interest, not to mention lessens the chance that your learners will actually retain the materials that you are speaking about.

Let’s take an example… listen to this classic “Clear Eyes” commercial on YouTube.  You’ll notice that Ben Stein’s voice (who anyone can think of when asked) is very monotonous and flat.  Ironically, this is what he’s known for.  How many times have you heard a speaker or professor with similar habits?  Here’s an example of the opposite spectrum… another commercial from YouTube.  Billy Mays was known for his loud, brash, and almost aggressive vocal styles.  Have you had any professors or teachers that spoke like this?  What you need to strive for is something in the middle: varied tones and excitement, but not “in your face” aggressiveness to scare the audience away.

What is your worst public speaking experience?  What did they do that made it the worst experience?  In contrast, what is the best speaker that you’ve ever seen?  What about the speaker made the experience memorable?  What did they do differently?  Leave a comment and tell us what you have heard!

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