5 Expert Tips to Create Audio Lessons for Online Courses

Brandon Stover
Founder of Plato University
September 26, 2023
min read

Ladies & gents, my name is Brandon Stover, and I’m the founder of Plato University. Welcome to Theory into Action.

Theory into Action is designed to help you turn your wisdom into actionable education. Learn how to create online courses, design learning experiences, and build educational programs so your knowledge can impact thousands of people.

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Tip 1: Start Simple With Your Equipment

You don't need an expensive setup like you see me have in order to get good audio quality. Instead start simple and work your way up towards a larger setup.

The reason being is because you may not enjoy creating audio courses or they may not work well for your students. In which case it would be a waste to invest all of that money upfront for expensive equipment when you don't end up using it in the long run.

How to Start Simply

You're going to need just a few pieces of equipment:

  • Microphone: I recommend the ATR2100 or Blue Yeti because they plug right into your computer and are under $100 for a quality mic.
  • Recording Software: My favorite is Descript because you can edit the audio like a word document. I also recommend Adobe Audition.
  • Computer: Most computers will be fine. Check Descripts spec requirements to make sure your computer is up to par.

Now in the future, if you decide to continue to keep doing audio courses,  then you can start to upgrade your equipment.

My current setup includes:

Tip 2: Create a Script

A script is basically what you're going to say when you're recording your audio.

It can be fully scripted, outlining every single word that you're going to speak into the mic or it could just include bullet points, which cover the important topics that you want to speak about. In your audio lesson.

Now, the reason that having a script is a good idea is because it ensures that you say all the important information, organizes your thoughts and keeps you on track while you record.

How to Create a Script

When I create a script I will:

  • Write out bullet points that have full sentences that I will actually say when recording the audio lesson.
  • As I record, I elaborate more on those bullet points, but those are more off the cuff than they are scripted. This allows me to sound a little more natural when I'm reading off a script.
  • Keep related reference material near me so that I can read off that in case I need to reference during my audio lesson.
  • If I mess up during recording that I just repeat and say the line again and continue on with the script. I can always edit out the mistakes later. There's no reason for me to stop recording and then restart the whole script, especially when the rest of the recording is just fine.

Tip 3: Choose the Right Length

Depending on the material that you're teaching, your own teaching style and the people that you're teaching, you'll need to choose the right length for your audio lessons.

At Plato University, We create our lessons in the 10 to 20 minute range. This gives just enough time for the student to grasp that portion of a skill and then be able to apply it, but does not overwhelm them with too much information.

Now some educational audios, like Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast is several hours long so you can get a full understanding of the historical topic in one sitting.

Some material is best served in bite size, small little chunks. While other material may be best understood when it's in its cohesive form like a three hour long lesson.

How to Choose the Right Length

To choose the right length, consider the following questions:

What is the material?

  • If its a skill, it may be best to break it down into each step of that skill so students can master that step before moving on the next.
  • If its a large complex concept, it may be best to break it down into parts or keep it whole and present at one time.

How will students be consuming the information?

  • If your students are short on time, having a really long lesson is going to be a dread to try and get through.
  • Shorter lessons may fit in better with their life. They can consume one short lesson during the day and then the next day they can consume another lesson.

Do you have the bandwidth?

  • 10-20 minute lessons may be easier to create than 3 hour long lessons (or whatever time period you choose).
  • On the flipside, you may get so in the flow that longer sessions are easier for you.

Tip 4: Remember the Medium

To create out lessons we are using audio. This means that students are going to be listening to the lesson rather than watching it.

This matters because audio is inherently a different format than video.  You need to do different things in your lesson in order for your students to gain an understanding.

It also means that students will most likely be doing other things while they're listening to your content.

How to be Mindful of the Audio Medium

Here are some general tips:

  • Remember, there are no visuals. You will have to illustrate examples using your words.
  • Students are not sitting and focused, starting at a computer. This means they may get distracted and you will need to reengage their attention. You can use active learning techniques, like active recall to keep them engaged in the lesson
  • Repeat yourself and reiterate points to engage their short term memory.
  • Students don't have resources ready at their immediate disposal. So you need to provide resources elsewhere.
  • Be descriptive and conversational. You are talking directly in their ear.

Tip 5: Consider Publishing as a Podcast

Podcasts are simply audio content that can be streamed anywhere. You as the creator get to choose what that audio content is. So that means the content you publish on podcasts could be your audio lessons.

Why Publish Your Audio Lessons as a Podcast?

Podcasts get significantly more reach than if you're course were behind a walled garden, meaning you can educate and impact more people with your lessons. It also means your students can access the material anywhere, anytime.

You lessons can become content marketing, driving more traffic to other material.

The potential downside is now the course if 100% free, because podcasts are a free medium.

How to Publish Your Lessons as a Podcast

First, decide how much you want to publish for free.

  • You can certainly publish all the lessons, the whole course for free. This is what we do at Plato University.
  • However, you can just publish a few lessons for free to give students a taster of what the course will be, and then use that as content marketing to drive people to your website and actually purchased the entire course.
  • You can also do a mini version of the course that's going to lead into a more advanced course. Publish that mini course for free to use as content marketing to drive students to the more advanced course, which they would purchase.

Next, choose a podcast hosting service.

  • I use Transistor for my podcast hosts because I have multiple courses and multiple podcasts that I'm publishing.
  • The other podcast hosting service that I really like is Simplecast. Very simple and intuitive to use.

Once you have your hosting service,  you're going to upload each one of your lessons as an individual episode in the order that they should be consumed.

Finally, you will schedule them for publishing. You can:

  • Publish the lessons one by one.
  • Release the course in its entirety all at once.

Want Help Creating Lessons?

If you'd like help developing your lessons, use the link in the description and I can help you turn your wisdom into actionable education. Lets build something great together.

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