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What Is An Audiogram?

An audiogram is a type of audio file converted into a video by adding a static background and, in many cases, a waveform and some dialogue transcription.

Don’t confuse this with a medical audiogram, which measures hearing loss. Knowing how people with different types of hearing loss may be able to understand content is also helpful for voice talent and producers, but that’s a topic for another day.

A Brief History Of Audiograms

Audiograms have been around in one form or another for almost as long as video itself. Even without “moving pictures,” the notion of showing a simple background and transcribed text along with an audio clip has uses for many people.

Many news stations, for example, create audiograms to show on television when there isn’t a suitable video to go with them. This is particularly common for sound bites from the radio, hidden audio recordings, and similar things.

Audiograms also appear on larger screens and private settings, like movie theaters. These are often a few minutes long and serve as pre-show entertainment.

While audiograms are present in many areas, the term we have today refers mainly to the kind we see with podcasts. The growth of promoting podcasts has helped adapt and refine existing audiogram techniques for presenting audio through visual mediums on phones, tablets and computer screens.

In modern times, audiograms are changing as people try to find the right balance of features and characteristics to maximize their effectiveness.

Elements Of An Audiogram

The most noticeable element of most audiograms is the waveform representing the audio. This is a multipurpose element for the video. First, just by its presence, it alerts people that there’s audio present. Second, you can also change its color as the audiogram progresses, allowing it to serve as a visual indicator of how far along in the video the listener is.

Second, many audiograms include captions which are very valuable. If people have the video muted, as many do, the captions let them engage with the content. Captions are also helpful for people who are hard of hearing and directly increase engagement. It’s better to have them than not.

Audiograms also need backgrounds. Simple is usually better here so they avoid taking attention away from the rest of the content.

Many audiograms also include an image of a person. Like captions, these are optional, but they can help provide a human connection to the content. Showing either the host or the guest can help voice talent maximize impact: One to three people would be ideal.

Finally, good audiograms should have a call to action accompanying them. Good calls to action include things like:

  • A link to the full podcast, if the audiogram is only a short clip
  • Tags to any particular brands or guests relevant to the clip
  • Links to a website

Why People Use Audiograms

Most voice actors use audiograms for three primary reasons.

The first reason is that many websites, including social media, support video files but not audio-only formats. This is a problem for podcasts and similar works that are, by nature, audio-only. Adding visual recordings of speakers technically turns a podcast into a vodcast, even if the creators still call it a podcast.

In other words, podcasters wanting to share their content on some of the most popular and wide reaching platforms will need video. Presence on social media can be a matter of your podcast thriving or sinking fast, so audiograms allow more voice actors to work and see huge success in this industry.

The second reason for using audiograms is that they significantly improve viewer attention and engagement. Results vary somewhat by test, but according to the Berkeley School of Journalism, an audiogram provides up to 8x higher viewership than audio-only results on platforms where both audio and video are available.

The third reason is that many people consume content on social media without enabling audio. Having transcriptions to go with your audio content means people can still understand it even if they have their device muted. The waveforms on audiograms help people realize there’s audio to go with the video.

How To Create An Audiogram

There are many ways to create audiograms, including some free online tools that can convert them for you. These are particularly valuable if you’re creating a podcast on a budget. However, paid tools usually have more features and may make it easier to perform well on different platforms.

The actual process for creating an audiogram varies slightly by system, but it typically will include these 5 steps:

  1. It starts with selecting an audio clip. This can be an entire podcast, but people also make highlight reels or audiograms for particularly entertaining or relevant sections of the podcast.
  1. Next, using your platform of choice, select a design. Most audiogram creation software has a wide selection of templates, with customizable elements so you can personalize it to the content. They can also automatically create waveforms that you can move around the system.
  1. This may be a good time to check out marketing color theory. Some voice talents apply a consistent design to every audiogram, while others change it each time to match the clip.
  1. Both of these are viable approaches, but which one makes sense depends on who you’re trying to market to. If you’re trying to reach the same people repeatedly, using similar branding is better. If you’re marketing to a wider, more random audience, unique designs are more effective.
  1. Finally, export the completed audiogram and upload it to social media. Advanced systems may let you link accounts and export additional transcriptions and SEO elements. Those are usually worth using if possible.

Social media sites may have different elements for marketing, so make sure you know the characteristics of each site. Text is especially helpful because it can integrate with various advertising and marketing elements.

Examples of Audiograms

Audiograms are available across the web, but one of the best places to find them is in Headliner’s gallery. Headliner has more options than most free services, and their gallery includes some of the best examples of audiograms created there.

If you’re looking for a perfect voice for your podcast’s audiogram, check out these great podcast voice talents on Voices.

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