Could live audio streaming and audio recording at conferences provide more opportunities to share ideas? In this post we explore how podcasting and audio reuse can be used to amplify conference papers.
I recently came across the following question on Quora:
Will more academic scholars podcast their conference papers in the foreseeable future?
I love going to academic conferences, but can’t get to all of them. And I love hearing papers & panels in research seminar series like UVA’s Scholars Lab. Will more academics — especially in the humanities — start recording their conference presentations in the future? How do we start a movement?
It is an interesting question, and one which seems to be lacking any answers.
In times of tight budgets, I am keen to see event organisers take advantage of audio recording when video production is simply out of their price range.
I have posted about the benefits of live audio streaming before, which could represent a more cost effective way of sharing a live event with a global audience, at a fraction of the production cost. This is consistently the most popular post on the Event Amplifier blog, but I see very few event organisers taking advantage of the facility.
Perhaps if event organisers considered how flexible event audio recordings are when it comes to reusing content after the event, we might see greater uptake of this cheap, lightweight way to get your event’s key messages out to a wider audience? In this post, I explore a few of the ways that audio recordings of conference presentations could be reused – including as podcasts – after the event.
Audio files are typically smaller than video files, and are therefore cheaper to edit, store and share. There are a number of ways audio recordings from a conference can be reused in different contexts to attract additional listeners and expand the reach of the event. Here are just a few:
Conference SoundCloud Channel
SoundCloud has been billed as “YouTube for audio” and boasted 40 million registered users (July 2013) and 175 million unique monthly listeners (Dec. 2014). SoundCloud hosts a mixture of music, talk audio and sound effects, with a number of podcasts and online talk radio stations using the platform. Event organisers could take advantage of this by uploading audio recordings of presentations from their event to a SoundCloud account, thus making it easier to share and embed the files more liberally. They could also share presentations with any SoundCloud groups in the relevant subject area.
A free SoundCloud account has a limit of 3 hours storage, so larger events may have to consider purchasing a premium package (£3.99-£8 per month) or selecting only the best content or that with the widest appeal to include on their channel.
If you run an annual event, 3 hours of audio storage may not be a long term solution. However, you could create a free account for each individual conference, then create an overarching conference brand account to create playlists for each event so listeners can navigate between the events and discover more of your content.
If you are running an annual conference and are looking to use everything you can from this year to promote next year’s event, a conference podcast may be a good way to reuse your audio content. Depending on the number of sessions you record, you could schedule a weekly/fortnightly/monthly podcast featuring one of your conference presentations. If you can record a short advert for the next event (or several, if you want to promote a call for papers, early bird rate and a standard rate booking at different times), then this could be a low effort way of raising awareness of your event throughout the year. It could also provide a useful, established platform for any pre-event promotional content – such as an interview with the conference chair or keynote speaker.
If your event was a one-off that forms part of a specific project, consider whether there is enough content to create a project podcast. If creating extra, project-specific content may make this seem daunting, but you could augment the conference content by recording any presentations you or your team deliver at other conferences and including them in your podcast schedule. This can help create a useful record of your conference appearances, and the podcast listener statistics can be used to demonstrate used to demonstrate additional impact from these activities.
Contribute to an Institutional Podcast
You may not want to go to the effort of running a conference-specific podcast, but your company or institution may have a regular podcast series already. Much of our work is with universities in the UK, many of which offer podcasts of their public lectures or departmental podcasts of regular lectures.
If you have audio content from an event, this could be used as a contribution to an existing podcast series. It may be that only selected presentations are relevant to the podcast’s audience, or that they need to be edited down to fit the format. Either way, contributing your conference audio will help to reach a new audience of people who are already interested in your organisation or field.
Encourage your Speakers to Podcast
The original Quora question above seemed to want more academics to publish their own podcasts featuring their conference presentations. This makes sense, as it is the speakers who have the ultimate authority in their respective fields – they are the experts!
Not all academics (or speakers generally) will have their own podcast series, and I won’t pretend to know how to start the movement our Quora-questioner wants to see. However, for those that do, if you have produced a high quality recording of their presentation, they may want to feature it as an episode. They may also include a shout-out for your conference. My colleague, Ross McGill, regularly records or requests recordings from his presentations at tax conventions for his podcast: TConsult Tax Talk, and will regularly feature items about upcoming conferences he is planning to attend. Identifying speakers like Ross in your sector and encouraging them to use your recordings within their podcasts could be an additional string to your marketing bow.
Even if your speaker does not have a regular podcast, it is always good to share the embed code for any audio or video you have hosted on an online sharing site so they can embed this on their website, blog or institutional profile page as an example of their work.
There are a few things you will need to bear in mind when considering how to use/re-use the audio recorded at your live event, including:
It is important to liaise with your speakers in advance to confirm that they are happy for you to use a recording of their presentation in this way. For most, it will not be a problem. For some, it will be. You have to respect their wishes and double check with them after the presentation in case they were unhappy with their performance or made a comment that needs to be removed. On the plus side, editing audio to remove any blunders is MUCH easier than editing video!
It is important to get the highest quality audio you can. That means considering how best to mic up your speakers.
If your venue has a digital sound desk, you may be able to ask your sound engineer to record the audio from the event directly to a USB stick. If you want to live stream your event, it should be possible to take a feed straight from the desk into the streaming equipment, which will give the best possible sound.
If you don’t have access to a digital desk, or are running a small event that doesn’t require any audio amplification, then you will need to consider hiring some recording equipment or bringing in a company like Event Amplifier to record (and/or live stream) your audio. We have our own microphones and recording equipment that can be used for small workshops, conferences and debates.
If you are not using a sound system at your event but do want to record the audio, you will need to tell your local audience that the event is being recorded and stress that they should make sure they wait for a microphone if they want to make a contribution. We often find that people forget – or don’t bother – to wait for the microphone if they can’t hear the results fed back through a PA speaker in the room (because if they raise their voice everyone can hear them anyway!). Even worse, they sometimes assume the mic isn’t turned on, which can lead to some interesting “Gordon Brown” moments.
Recording or live streaming audio only is cheaper and easier to do when your event is operating on a tight budget. However, if you do have the budget to produce video, you can still take advantage of some of the ideas above. Extracting the audio from a video file, editing it where necessary and using it as a separate resource can be a way to increase the return you get on your video production costs.
So, I would urge you to think about how you can use the audio from your event to maximum effect and consider how you can reach all of those people who like to listen to interesting content on the train, whilst running or in the background whilst working.
If you would like help recording or live audio streaming a conference, or any assistance with audio editing and podcast production, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs and get a quote.