RootsTech Review: Audacity the Power of Audio Editing

Audacity The Power of Audio Editing at RootsTech

Guest blog by Andrew Lee

Yes my class was one of my favorites as well. The topic (software program Audacity) was sort of a last minute thing. I had made up my draft proposals for three other classes in May. At the same time I was editing an audio cassette that my aunt had sent to me. About a week before the proposal deadline I threw together one for Audacity. As I mentioned in my class, I have been using Audacity for about 15 years to edit audio files.


RootsTech Ballroom E Schedule
Friday at RootsTech: Ballroom E Scheulde

In November, I found out which room I would be in, Ballroom E, seating 400. I watched the registration leading up to RootsTech to get a feel for how large (or not large) the class would be. Most of the classes I have taught have been to 20-30 people with the occasional 100-200. Registration for the class using the app only reached about 65 before I headed to RootsTech and not having been before, I didn’t know how many that would actually translate into.

In preparing the class I had planned on pre-selecting the audio clips from the recording of my great grandmother I had finished editing earlier in the year. I imagined that I could walk through the process in a nice controlled manner. Then about October, I thought I would take a risk.

Why not try to do the editing live? Have a volunteer come up and record a story, then go through the editing step by step. I tested it out on my wife and it worked so I figured with more practice I could get it down. I practiced several times with some randomly chosen audio clips and then a couple weeks before RootsTech, I had my final live practice session with my family. It went well.

While I was going step-by-step to show how simple audio editing is as easy as editing a Word document, I also wanted to give those in attendance a taste of what else audio editing could do. I decided to add a soundtrack to a story.  I had an interview of my mom where she talked about playing the piano. At Thanksgiving, I recorded her playing the piano. She played several songs, but ultimately I chose to use Chariots of Fire. The music actually fit in with the story really well.

RootsTech Speaker Practice
Practicing to make my RootsTech debut
RootsTech treated the presenters well. There was a Speaker’s Room that we could use (they even let my wife come in with me) and that is where Devon and I stashed our coats and bags during the day. I also ate about half of the container of Red Vines (sorry if any one else wanted them but you weren’t eating them fast enough). The room was always a quiet place to relax before the start of the conference and at lunchtime. They had a projector set up so that if you wanted to practice your presentation you could.

Since we didn’t go to the keynote sessions, each morning I would try and find an empty room (one that didn’t have an 11am class) so that I could practice my presentation. I like to move around a lot when I present, but most of the rooms that I could find were not laid out for this style of presenting. By Friday, I was pretty good at looking on the schedule and immediately knowing which rooms were available. I even pointed out a couple rooms that someone could use to practice.

Devon kept talking up my class. In the shuttle ride to the hotel we met someone from Family Tree University who said they were thinking of going to the class. Devon gave her the hard sell and she showed up (I might be having a class on Family Tree University later this year). Pretty much everyone my wife talked to, she tried to convince to come to my class.

My wife also had help from Joseph Richardson who gave a live streaming presentation on Thursday called Virtual Family Reunions. He plugged my class twice during the presentation! Mind you, I have never met Joseph and he has never taken one of my classes. Hopefully, I would live up to the double shout out. Thanks Joseph.

Practicing in a room designed for 400. Will I be epic like my wife (yes, that's her on the screen presenting
at a local conferene) kept telling everyone? Maybe my Iowa Hawkeye shirt would serve me well?
My practice session was Thursday night. The Ballroom E was empty by 5:45 and I started setting up to make sure everything worked. Everything worked great. The only complaint I had was that I would have liked to have had a wireless lapel mic. With the corded mic, I could only go halfway across the room.

RootsTech Speaker lunch vouncher
Look what a the perk for the speakers? A lunch voucher that bought enough to feed too!

Friday at lunch, I headed over to Ballroom E (my class was at 1:30pm). Devon went to get us some lunch while I started setting everything up.

Andy Lee RootsTech 2016 Presenter Audacity


One of the things I did was make an intro presentation about myself. It was a series of 25 slides that looped continuously with different things about my life as a way to help people get to know me a little better. (For instance, I was the 2014 Shorinji Ryu Karate US Nationals Grand Champion and I came in 626th place in the Woodlands Triathlon).

My wife only captured one photo of me presenting. It was behind the mic as I switched to the actual class content.
Too bad you couldn't see me moving around on the ground and with my volunteers.
About 15 minutes before the start of the class I started talking with the crowd. It was about ⅔ to ¾ full so a good 250-300 people (either that or there were a lot of empty seats I couldn’t see from the stage lights blinding me).

One thing that both my wife and I noticed is that most presenters sat at the front and didn’t try to interact with the class until the presentation started. Also, most all of them stayed behind the lectern. I didn’t do either.

I talk to the class before hand to loosen my nerves and get to know them. It is a way I can try out some cheap entertainment. Maybe if I present again next year I can bring someone up and teach them how to juggle for the pre-class entertainment.

The class went well. I’m not going to re-hash it all here. But I will include a link to my updated class notes file in case you want to download it. (Click here for class notes.)

There were a lot of questions throughout my presentation and great audience participation. People were able to point out that I click my lips when I talk and I use “so” a lot. Which is good, because that means I taught them what to look for.

The live demonstration worked fine and after it was all over, I had a group of 20 or so interested people who asked some more questions while I was taking down my equipment. Several people complimented me on my presentation and my wife was beaming with pride.

Andy and Devon Noel Lee at RootsTech 2016
She gave me a big smooch when I finished. My biggest fan was so proud of me.

My hubby is one of the most pragmatic people I know. I'm not kidding when I say his workshop was going to be and was actually epic. He did an amazing job and I hope others will invite him to present at future conferences! 

Next in the series,.. an invitation to a MyHeritage After Party!

Previous Posts in This Series:

RootsTech: Through the Eyes of an Unknown Presenter
RootsTech: What were the Best Classes Not Streamed?


Next Posts in This Series:

RootsTech: My Heritage After Party
RootsTech: Conference Feedback 

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