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How to Tape Your Programs
By Mark S. A. Smith   Printer Friendly Version

(Note: Since this article was written, some part numbers may have changed. Yet the product descriptions remain correct. You may have to ask the salesperson what model replaced the one mentioned in this article.)

For better or for worse, I tape every program I give. Yes, setting up the equipment is a hassle. And yes, it means arriving earlier than if I wasn't taping. And yes, I'm really glad that I do it.

Why would you want to tape your program anyway? For lots of good reasons, all of which will make you more money.

Tape for self-critique. Listen to the tape to evaluate what you said and how you said it. Make notes to yourself, either written or mental. When you hear something you really like, repeat it aloud, and then say, "Yes, I liked the way I said that." Or say, "Next time, I will say that this way..." and practice, out loud, the change.

Tape for audience reactions. You'll relive that speech, for better or worse, every time you hear it. Listen to where the audience reacts, positively and negatively. Listen for when the audience is laughing. Did you let them enjoy themselves, or did you blast past it? Listen for when the audience is restless. Can you sharpen the point a bit? Listen for when the audience is captivated. How can you do it again?

Tape for "Magic Moments." Listen for ad-libs that you can reuse. Listen for quips and stories from the audience that you can use. Listen for "Magic Moments" that appeared unexpectedly. How can you do it again?

Tape for product. You've, no doubt, heard the adage, "If you have a speech, you have a tape. If you have a tape, you have a book." If you do an adequate job speaking at your seminar, an average of 30% of the room will buy your products at the back of the room. Your product could be a tape of your best live performance. It could be a combination of "Magic Moments" spliced together. It could be some studio work combined with pieces of solid live performances. It could be that you'll sell "today's program" for $10 or $20 per tape. You don't have to sell very many copies to cover the cost of your own recording equipment and microphone. But keep in mind Dave Richardson's advice, "You'll get better, but your tapes won't." Record everything, and select from your best performances to make products that will last a long time.

Tape for marketing. Your best performances are your best demo tapes. Record your speeches and you'll have something to send when asked, "Do you have a demo tape?" You can say, "Better yet, how about an entire performance!"

Tape for testimonials. You have, no doubt, had an audience member come up to you after the program and give the most wonderful testimonial statement you've ever had, only to be interrupted, and you didn't get their name, and that validation of your ability is lost forever. Not so when you wear a microphone and "accidentally" leave the recorder running as you meet your audience. One of the most emotion-filled spontaneous testimonies I've ever received was captured on tape and now is part of my videotape introduction.

Tape for copyright protection. Your live program is not copyrighted until it is physically recorded. When you record your program, you then have copyright protection, automatically. Write on the tape label a "P" with a circle around it - like the copyright sign©, but "P" for phonogram - the year, and your name. All three of these must appear on the label for protection. Two quick points: first, use roman numerals for the date (1999 is MIM) so your material won't appear out of date in several years. Most people don't know roman numerals. I had to ask my reference librarian about them. Second, use your name for the copyright. Royalties on your copyrights, paid by your company, can be a nice stream of income that's not (currently) subject to FICA or withholding taxes.

How do you tape? You can make your first audiotape with equipment you probably have now. Take an ordinary cassette recorder and place it on the lectern or on a table near you. Record with the built-in microphone. This won't produce product-quality tapes, but are good enough for the first three reasons to tape yourself.

Record product-quality tapes by either connecting to the house PA system or by using equipment costing as little as $60. You can get reasonable quality recordings by using a small cassette recorder and a lapel microphone (visit your local Radio Shack). Attach the cassette recorder to your belt or other convenient place, plug in the mike, attach the mike to your clothing, and you're in business. This works well for un-amplified speeches and when another mike is used for amplification.

Arrange to connect to the house mike by talking to the audio person. If you are counting on recording a particular speech, make arrangements ahead of time. You need special adapters to connect professional microphones to a standard cassette deck. You'll need a microphone "Y" cable (A3F to two A3M; you can find someone to make one, or call Markertek at 1-800-522-2025), an adapter/transformer (like Radio Shack's A3F-1/4", #274-0016), and adapter (like Radio Shack's Mono 1/4"-1/8", #274-0047).

Use your own wireless mike. At the affordable end of the scale are Radio Shack's hand held (#320-1224) and lavaliere (#320-1228) microphones. The lavaliere comes with three transmitters and a built-in mixer, great for a team presentation. Both of these FM wireless mikes operate on the professional 170 MHz frequencies. I can't recommend any of the cheaper mikes. Use a cable like Radio Shack's mini/phone plug (#420-2433) to connect to your recorder. To connect these wireless mikes to the house PA, use an adapter like Radio Shack's dual mike/speaker adapter (#274-0309) plug into the wireless mike receiver), a 1/4"-1/4" plug cable (like Radio Shack's #420-2465), and the A3M-1/4" adapter/transformer (#274-0017). Just plug a professional mike cable into the adapter/transformer and you're in the house PA. As with all wireless microphones, make sure you have a wired microphone as a standby in case of interference.

Professional wireless microphones featuring "diversity" (substantially reduces interference) are the next level of quality, and are 3-15 times more expensive. To attach these professional microphones to both the house PA and your tape recorder, use the "Y" cable/adapter set described previously. Brands to consider include, Samson (President Clinton uses a $2,000 Samson UHF wireless microphone), Shure, Telex (the brands I use), Nady, Audio-Technica, and Freedomike. Companies that supply professional wireless microphones include CDI (1-800-327-9332), CAM (1-800-527-3458), Kingdom (1-800-788-1122), Markertek at (1-800-522-2025), AMS (1-800-458-4076), and Musician's Friend (1-800-776-5173). Ask to speak to their microphone expert, and let them help you with your selection.

Consider a professional tape recorder when you want to consistently record product-quality tapes. Many speakers use the Marantz PMD series (about $230-$400) available from most of the microphone dealers listed above. Choices include the PMD201 and PMD221 (1/8" microphone input, use the "Y" cable/adapter set listed previously) or PMD222 (the unit I use, includes a professional XLR/A3F input). With the PMD222, you just need the "Y" cable to connect to the house PA. These recorders have lots of features and capability and are built for constant use. Don't get talked into buying the stereo model unless you plan stereo recording projects.

For top quality, use a portable Digital Audio Tape (DAT) recorder. They are a few hundred dollars more expensive than the professional cassette recorders; yet well worth the investment for serious professionals. DATs are like videotape, in that there is only one "side" to the tape cassette. In long-play mode, you can record up to four hours on a single DAT tape. And you'll end up with CD quality sound! Call the dealers listed, or call the DAT Store in Santa Monica, CA at 1-310-828-6487.

When possible, use a tape long enough to record your speech on one side. Remember cassette sides are half the time of the cassette rating. For example, a C-90 is 45 minutes per side. If your program runs longer, schedule a break or audience activity so that you can turn over the cassette about five minutes before it runs out. An alternative is to ask an audience member to flip the tape when it reaches the end. Record a message at the end of the first side reminding your listener to turn the tape over to continue the program.

Use unique master cassettes. Use a specific brand or cassette shell color for your master tapes, and a different brand or shell color for your copies. I use black cassettes for my master tapes and white cassettes for copies. This way I avoid accidentally erasing, selling, or duplicating over a master tape. If possible, select exact length tapes for masters, such as exactly C-60 or C-90, and longer tapes for copies, such as C-62 or C-92. Some tapes have a bit more length then are actually listed. This means that you risk losing a few minutes of the program if the master tape is longer than the copy tape.

Buy cassettes in bulk if you speak often. Bulk cassettes cost 40 to 50 cents each in quantities of 100. Compare this to $1.50 to $3.00 each in stores. Most bulk cassette dealers allow you to combine lengths to get the best quantity discount. Remember, bulk cassettes require that you buy cases (10 to 20 cents each) and labels (pennies each) to complete the package. Some sources of bulk cassettes are CDI (1-800-327-9332), CAM (1-800-527-3458), and Kingdom (1-800-788-1122). Call and get on their mailing list.

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