- audio trails
- self-guided walks
- 21st century storytelling - digital stories
- exhibition audio
- creating an atmostphere
- evaluation and consultation - focus groups and sound bites
- audio books
- oral history
- talking benches, posts and interpretation panels
Audio varies hugely in quality and effectiveness.
Even audio that has had a huge amount of cash thrown at it can fall flat on its face by not observing simple rules of interpretation development.
Below are some examples of audio - what do you think? Which ones work for you?:
- Discover the exploits of pint-size furry park inhabitants on the red squirrels trail in the Yorkshire Dales National Park
- Follow Goblin Gwladys into her underground kingdon on the geology tour in the Brecon Beacons National Park
- Find out what makes Yorkshire tick with digital stories on the My Yorkshire website
- Like a good story? Listen to the The Beast of Hackfall adventure for families in Hackfall Woods (Woodland Trust)
- Want to engage your corporate sponsors more? The Family Holiday Association use audio as part of their communications campaign to sponsors
- Get 'down w'h the kids' at the I am Here project at the Museum of Croyden
- Not for the feint hearted - Jack the Ripper and the East End of London podcast part 1 and part 2 complete with video and maps from the Museum of Docklands.
We run Inspiring Audio courses (and digital storytelling courses to order, from £60 per person). During this day-long workshop, delegates learn the nuts and bolts of how to script and create audio content, useful whether you are going to be doing it yourself or commissioning a company to do it for you.
Delegates start with the question 'What makes great audio?'. Here's what our delegates in July and October 2010 (BGEN training workshop) came up with:
- Enthusiasm and passion
- Don't include too many facts – make any facts you use work hard and make sure they're relevant. Ask yourself about each fact - So what? Why should my audience care about that? Above all, avoid fact overload!
- Make it memorable
- Use the correct voice for the setting to have most impact and consider using several voices for variety and interest
- Make it honest!
- Quirky – can you take risks?
- Include changes in voice and tone. Will you use a regional accent?
- Be dramatic!
- Focus on the most engaging stuff and cut out the rest - what's the nub of what you're trying to communicate, emotions you're trying to evoke or discussions you want to start?
- Involve the other senses apart from hearing - what can the listener see, small and touch around them?
- Correct length for environment
- Use evocative and descriptive language - how can you create an atmostphere with words and sounds?
- Good editing is very important
- How can you get your audience to emotionally engage with the subject matter?
- Directions i.e. turn left after the clocktower, must be clear
- How can you move your audio from ordinary to extraordinary?
- Decide if your audio is to be formal or informal, tightly scripted or work on a loose framework of questions or key points to cover
- For trails, have the right number of stops - 15 is an absolute maximum
- Give the listenener time to absorb key information and particualrily directional instructions
- If you are using visuals, make them fit the script and get the timing right
- Only use music when it is needed but consider using background nooise for scene setting.
Some useful audio resources:
- Guardian article on outdoor audio trails (22nd April 2010)
- Download Audacity software for free
- Useful information about audio description from the RNIB
- Get free sound effects and music
- Get your podcast hosted for free
- Get your podcast on iTunes
- Check out History Pin for another way to promote your work and collections online
- Free guide to social media for museums and heritage organisations
- Suppliers of outdoor speakers and wind-up audio posts include Outdoor Audio and Audio Posts and Black Box AV
- Digital Flip cameras for easy use with schools are around £90 and can be sourced from Digital Blue
Free places to upload podcasts and trails: