I had an unexpected visitor in my office between classes yesterday. A minister that I have known since moving to West Texas stopped by after a meeting to just say “hello. "
As we made small talk, he noticed a microphone on my desk in front of my computer. He asked me what it was for and I explained that I use it to dictate my lecture notes into my computer and do “voice overs" for information that I provide to students through the internet. I also told him that the microphone was inexpensive and that I have had it for several years.
Talk about microphones led me to open the “technology goodie box" that I keep on my desk. No one would ever guess the content of the decorative box that I carry from place to place. Inside it is a lapel microphone that I wear in classes and speaking engagements when I am doing new material. I listen to the lectures and speeches to find out what works and what doesn’t. Listening helps me to determine if more information is needed, if there is too much information about one aspect of the talk or if the topic is worth pursuing in different venues. By the way, the lapel mic hooks up to a tiny digital recorder that I slip into my pocket, I always inform the audience when I am recording, but the process is as unobtrusive as possible. No need to mess up the flow.
I also keep a credit card size digital camera in the goodie box. It makes 3.2 MP images and is capable of 30 second digital movies. The kids in my life love the little movies that I make of them and of myself doing silly things. I add titles, credits, and great video effects, all for entertainment purposes only. Any footage that I make for classroom use is done on a more traditional camera that does not have time limits. I use the same software for visual affects, though.
So, bully for me, as my mother would say, but here is the amazing part. The voice recognition software and the movie making software is FREE. In fact, I didn’t have to download or make any special arrangements to get it. All of the programs in the Microsoft Office 2003 package have the voice recognition software already loaded.
I had the same nightmare experiences as everyone else who tried voice recognition when it first arrived on the scene several years ago. I don’t know how Microsoft did it, but it is far superior than the ones I won’t mention here and, like I said, it is very likely that you already have it on your computer.
The movie making software is also already on your computer. Go to “Accessories" and look for Windows Movie Maker. There it is, already on your system and as easy as any software can possibly be. Click and Drag and you have a mini movie to keep or share.
My visitor asked me to write all of this down and I did. I also told him that it would be a good idea to read the manuals when he invests in technology. I realize that sound like I was being a “smarty pants" but apparently that is exactly what I am. The visitor asked me, “How do you write your books?" and that’s when I decided that I was not so smart after all. If I have spent hundred (possibly thousands) of hours in developing the skills to be productive, and someone can pick my brain during a “pop in" I have to address some issues in my own life.
I decided at that moment to add “technology geek" to all of the other titles that I have acquired. Mostly, because the entrepreneur title runs in my family. It is also, by far, the part of my life that gives me the most excitement. As a writer, I log a lot of hours on the computer. I don’t mind sharing what I know. This experience has led to a new workshop title.
See, I assumed that everybody investigated their options. I thought everyone read the manuals, bought the books, subscribed to the magazines, visited the websites, and pored over every e-zine. Apparently, that is not what is happening. As an entrepreneur, this is not such a sad revelation, it is an opportunity. As a Christian, it is kind of sad. I know lots of ministers who desire to be more productive. Almost all have a book inside of them. They talk about radio, television, and other media as part of their ministries. As an educator and entrepreneur, I have investigated all of those things thoroughly and have a mini-studio that is completely digital and efficient. Most ministries have far more resources than I have. But if you don’t know how to use your tools, what difference does it make?
Dr. Yvonne LaMar is a speaker and consultant who works with businesses to create a drama-free work environment. Her book Drama Free Workplace will be available in early 2006. http://www.DramaFreeWorkplace.com Find out more at http://www.DrLaMar.com