For a long time, audio was the king of communication. It took a backseat with the arrival of television and was further relegated by the internet. Now, in a world that’s overwhelmed by visual communication, audio has found a way to cut through. This is why you should make a sound choice in the battle of audio vs video.
Audio vs video? Trust your ears
Your ears are more powerful than you think! They can transport you back in time, around the world and into space. All you need is to put on a set of headphones and close your eyes.
The really special thing about audio is that you as the listener become part of the story. Your ears transmit information from the sounds you hear to your brain, where your imagination fills in the details.
When you listen to a podcast, your experience will be slightly different to what others experience. To put this to the test, have a listen to a podcast before looking at a picture of the people in the podcast. When you see their picture how wild our imaginations can be!
Audio has many benefits over video – it’s less expensive, easier to create and the best way to engage with many while maintaining social distance.
Without video, audio eliminates judgement
They say we’ve got a matter of seconds to make an impression when we meet new people. It’s got something to do with our evolutionary fight or flight response which has been honed to respond rapidly when assessing predators.
In the modern world where that skill isn’t often required, we tend to put it to use in other ways. That might be avoiding eye contact with the unusual looking person on public transport, swiping left or right on Tinder, or simply judging every new face that flashes across our video screens.
But what if our ears won the battle between audio vs video?
Audio gives us much less information, so we’re more likely to listen without judgement. Of course, there are sounds, voices and tones that we might not like. But more often than not we’ll listen more openly, waiting for more information to build that picture in our mind.
This has the added bonus of encouraging us to listen more carefully. We’ll assess each word for a hint of an accent to identify the speaker. We’ll hear sounds in the background which provide clues to the location, the mood and even the moment in space and time.
When you listen to the virtual training session we recorded for Infosys – ‘The value of diversity in ICT’ – there’s a few things that won’t be apparent. Firstly, most of the audience where listening to the presenters on a conference call. The small number of people that were present were squashed into a small, slightly overheated meeting room. Oh, and we had a selection of cakes and pastries (don’t worry, nobody spoke with their mouth full!).
Voices convey pure emotion
Have you ever asked someone if they’re crying? You’d think it would be obvious from the tears welling in their eyes, but sometimes we’re just not sure, even when we can see and hear the whole scene in front of us.
In this battle of audio vs video, the odds favour sound and it’s less likely that you’d ask that same question if you were only listening.
There’s something special about the human voice when it is injected directly into our ears. It’s like we make some sort of soul connection. That voice is speaking directly to us and it conveys so much emotion.
Sometimes it’s just the change of pace or a pause that tells us something isn’t right. A voice can crack around the edges, ever so slightly, and long before it wavers to indicate that something is wrong.
It’s not just sadness that voices excel in expressing. Just try to keep the corners of your mouth from turning up when you hear somebody laughing.
And there’s more emotions that really shine in audio. Pride, jealousy, joy and all different levels of anger.
Audio communicates from anywhere
There’s an old adage in the photography world that the best camera is the one you have on you. That’s probably why we have blurry, indistinct images of the Loch Ness Monster.
When it comes to sound, the same rule applies, while the results can be far more impressive. From my office in Melbourne we can record a conversation with somebody anywhere in the world – all they need is a mobile phone.
With an app and some radio broadcasting technology we can record audio of such high quality that it sounds like we’re in the same room. It doesn’t matter if they’re on the other side of the world, out on the road, or isolating in quarantine.
If we can meet face-to-face, a good microphone doesn’t take up much space and can go where cameras fear to tread. We could have a chat while riding a bike, hiking in the dark depths of a forest or running with the bulls. As long as I’ve got one hand available to point the talking stick in our general direction, we can record sound anywhere, anytime, anyhow!
Audio lets you do other things – safely!
When it comes to listening to audio, all you need is your ears. Your eyes can be watching the road, or whatever you’re cutting as you prepare dinner. Your body can be exercising, walking the dog, or just slouching on public transport.
We all want more value from our time, which is why audio wins when audio vs video.
While you multitask, you can enjoy listening to audio such as podcasts. Put on your ear goggles and take it with you or turn it up loud so you can hear it from every corner of the house.
Most mobile phones have apps that can manage your podcasts so that you can pick up where you left off when you jump in the car. They’ll hold your spot when you switch to your headphones.
These clever, cloud-based apps will even let you switch devices. So you can listen on your digital assistant or smart speaker without having to manually find your place.
Most videos are just talking to camera
How many times have you watched a video that was simply somebody talking at you? Maybe you’ve seen videos that put up words on the screen that highlight the main point, because they haven’t got anything else to show you.
When they cut from a front shot of the speaker to a side shot of the speaker, then you know they’ve run out of ideas. Perhaps they should have wrestled more with the decision of audio vs video!
If some videos were presented as audio you would be inclined to listen more carefully. This is because the speaker is no longer worrying about how they look on camera, or the lights, or the cost of the production.
Audio recording is much easier and less stressful for the person being recorded. As a result, they loosen up a bit. They get a bit more expressive in the way they talk.
The result is a more enjoyable, more effective experience for all concerned.
What’s more important, audio or video?
Generally the answer lies in the purpose of your message. If you have something to show me, use video. But, if you have something important to tell me and you really want me to listen to the end, then audio is more important.
Right now, audio is more important than ever. Covid-19 has caused a re-think on meetings, panel discussions and events. Audio makes it possible to continue all of these things in a way that’s engaging and enjoyable for the listener.