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Tips for Taping
by Chris King

After giving a recent presentation, you are asked by someone from the audience if you have your message on tape — he or she would like to purchase it. Or, possibly, the meeting planner who hires you asks if you will be bringing tapes to sell. Or, you may have heard — and correctly — that many speakers make a large portion of their income from back of the house sales of tapes and books. Finally a meeting planner or bureau asks for a video of you to help with a hiring decision. Yes, it is time to produce a tape, or tapes. In this article, I will share some tips about producing tapes — successful and not so successful.

Remember that a tape will be around for a long time. And that tape will come back to haunt you if you don’t pay attention to the details. Once you have been recorded and the tape is distributed, you can’t change the ones that are in others’ hands, and, if they are not professional those tapes will make an unfavorable impression that will last.

Check around to determine how you will produce a tape. One of the easiest ways to make a quality tape is to present at a convention where a reputable company like Convention Cassettes is taping the workshops and presentations. The only drawback is that they are the ones who sell the tapes, not you. You will get one for your keeping, and that is a benefit because you can listen to it and learn what to do and not do when you produce your own. The next most reasonable way is to go to your local college and have the students in the communications department help you with the production of a tape. They are often quite good. I would ask for testimonials from others who have worked with them before making the giant leap, however. Then, of course, there are studios that do this on a regular basis, and can be of great help with directing, editing, and consulting. There are studios that can work with you on audio and/or video taping. Of course, video is much more involved. There are also opportunities for speakers to showcase and be audio and/or video taped along with the showcase, but I will caution you about this procedure. It is a way to get tapes that are more reasonable in price, because several speakers are involved and they provide an automatic audience, but often the quality it not as professional as necessary to even warrant the cost.

Just as with presenting, preparation is everything. The well known speakers who create the super audio programs tell me that they have most of their material written down before they tape. But they are so good, you don’t have any idea that they are reading because they know their subject backward and forward. Many also bring a friend, coach, or family members along, so that they feel like they are presenting to an audience. It sounds natural and dynamic on tape. If you are working on a tape series with more than one tape, it is a good idea to break up your taping sessions. Taping can be incredibly intense and tiring, and any tiny bit of fatigue will show up in your voice.

Add vocal variety to create lively tapes. If you are at all like I am, you probably listen to lots of audio tapes. Even when the information is excellent, I find that if the voice on the tape isn’t interesting, warm, and enthusiastic, I have trouble continuing to listen to that tape. When taping, I choose to stand up. I feel that my projection is more forceful. Also, others can hear a smile, feel a gesture, and sense when you are asking a question or are hesitant about what you are saying. Even though producing a tape doesn't feel natural, it is important to make it sound natural.

Consider mixing taped live performance with taped studio performance. I know many speakers who have found this a successful way to present on tape — both audio and video. They have a studio splice together portions to several different venues, this way adding that necessary variety and also showing what they do in a variety of situations. I also know a marketing genius who tapes his workshops and tele-clinics live. Even though there is a lack of professional consistency to tape quality, I feel that he makes a good point when he says that people enjoy hearing the spontaneity of these sessions. I know that I listen to them over and over again.

Before taping, listen to and watch many others’ tapes. We should never mimic another speaker, but we can certainly learn what works and what doesn’t from studying others’ approaches. I suggest that before you sink time, effort, and money into producing any tape, you spend time listening to and watching tapes. There are tapes of all levels and kinds at the public libraries, and I even suggest listening to some fiction books on tape. You will quickly discover what works and what doesn’t. The presenter's approach makes all of the difference between listening and re-listening to the very end or putting that tape back into its case in less than five minutes.

Remember that when you are good, people will want to take you home with them. And what better way is there than having them buy your tape? So, if you are ready, make taping a priority and get started!

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