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I’ve been seeing more and more audio tutorials these days. I think that’s fantastic, because we should all have a voice. But I want to share some insight into what I’ve learned for those of you who are still trying to find your footing in the teaching world.
1. Know it. Inside and out.
If you’re going to teach it effectively, you need to know the subject inside and out. Look at what you’re teaching and ask yourself if there are any aspects of what you’re conveying that you don’t truly understand. If so, you’re not ready to teach it. Take some time to research that topic to help you truly understand what it is you need to understand.
I get asked a lot “should I start teaching to build my credibility so I can get more mixing clients?”, to which I respond with a series of questions. At the heart of those questions is me finding out whether or not teaching is really something they have a passion for doing, or if this is just a half-thought marketing move because they want more mixing work. If it’s the latter, I tell them not to do tutorials. This takes time, dedication, and a passion for helping people understand their knowledge of this field. If they possess that already, I encourage them to pursue it. If they don’t possess that already, I advise them to shelve the idea until such time when that passion for helping others starts to sprout.
People can read passion and excitement in a presenter. If you lack that, the audience will take note. If you possess it, the audience is likely to latch onto that and want to learn from you instead of others because they’ve connected with that passion. If you don’t have passion for doing this, you may hate it. If you hate it, the audience will pick up on that. If the audience picks up on that, they may well go to another source because they don’t feel connected to you as a presenter. If they don’t feel connected to you as a presenter, you’re actually harming your image instead of helping it. If you’re harming your image, you’re not doing your career any favors.
From the same people, you’ll often hear two contradictory sayings thrown around. “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”, which is often contradicted by “If you aren’t making in demand records, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching how to make stellar records.”
Often they are trying to encourage people to keep going if they have something great to share, while trying simultaneously to weed out the bad information from incredible sources. That’s an effort I support. But it can be viewed by up and comers as “they’re all going to laugh at you!” because you haven’t gone platinum. How could you possibly know the best way to teach compression if you haven’t used compression to make a killer record that everyone enjoys and knows by heart? It’s unintentionally discouraging.
This goes back to numbers 1 and 2. If you’re genuine, and are making an attempt to teach solid information backed by research, you’ll get the support of the audio community even if you haven’t gone platinum. Look at Graham Cochrane of The Recording Revolution. This guy isn’t putting hits on the radio, yet he’s quite possibly the most well known blogger/teacher in our profession. Graham’s got passion to back up his rock solid information.
Pedigree doesn’t matter if you know what you’re talking about and have the passion to connect with your audience.
4. Give credit where it’s due.
There’s a ton of information out there, and it’s impossible to remember the source of every piece of audio knowledge you have learned. But if you do learn something specific from one person that you’ve not heard from others, please give them a nod when you’re teaching it. It’s about respect for those who have helped you grow.
5. “But that’s been taught by someone already!”
People learn differently. People latch on to different educators. You shouldn’t be afraid to cover something that someone else has covered, because your audience may not be latching on to the others who are teaching it. Think about the audio tutorials you watch. Who hosts them? What do you like about them that makes you keep watching tutorials from that person? What about others you’ve tried to get into, but can’t seem to enjoy so you never go back? What about them made you dislike watching that person teaching that topic?
Even if you didn’t enjoy learning from one person, someone else did. That same person who liked that instructor may not like your teaching style. We all learn differently, and we latch on to different people to get our information. Your audience is latching onto you to learn. There’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t cover certain topics just because “it’s already been done”. Just remember #4 about giving credit where it’s due.
6. Everyone’s A Critic.
Seriously. Everyone. You’ll post something that’s awesome, and some internet person you’ve never met will tear a thousand holes in it. Then another will follow suit, and another, and another. This can lead to death by 1,000 cuts.
Don’t let that happen. Be confident that your information is correct, and proceed with your armor on. Some jabs will still cut through, but most will roll off.
It really does suck to put your heart and soul into something only to have someone tear it down. It’s even worse when they are attacking you merely to be attacking you, and not because there’s something actually worth attacking in your presentation. But the internet is full of jerks. Don’t dignify them with your time, they aren’t worth your stress.
7. Start now with what you have.
Don’t wait till you have the perfect setup. Don’t wait till you have the perfect lighting. Don’t wait till you have the perfect camera. Don’t wait till you have screen capture software. Don’t wait till your presentation has been fine tuned. Don’t wait to do this if you truly love doing this.
None of us have the “perfect” setup, because that doesn’t exist. We’ve become good at the tools we have, and over time have invested in better tools based on our experiences using the tools we were limited to using before. It’s always being fine tuned, but we all started somewhere. I’m not saying not to worry about these things. I AM saying that if you are limited for a while to less than stellar tools, use them and make the most stellar tutorial you can with them.
As for your presentation, that will come with confidence. The best way to gain confidence making tutorials is to make tutorials. Get started. Do it right now. I’m giving you permission to shoot that using your iPhone camera if that’s what you have, because if the above points are taken into consideration then you’ll have an audience latch onto your message regardless of your iPhone.
Never stop improving your presentation or production values. Listen to feedback from peers who are creating content and see where you could improve in their opinion. But take their opinion with a grain of salt. If something doesn’t feel valid, evaluate whether or not it is. Just proceed and make the best content you are capable of making. The rest will come. I didn’t ask anyone’s permission, or wait till I had the best gear. I just did it, and I fine tuned as I went.
8. Find your own voice.
We want to see your personality in your tutorials. We want good information, but we also want entertained in some manner. We’re latching on to your personality on a certain level, so don’t be afraid to show who you are in your tutorials. If you’re just a bland presenter, there’s no way you can stand out in the ever growing crowd of engineers trying to share their knowledge via video tutorials. If you have your own identifiable voice, you’ll stand out more.
Some examples of different personality styles in the tutorial world, I give you Glenn Fricker and Daniel Robert Ford. These are two vastly different presenters, but each are showing their personality in their presentation in an unapologetic way.
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