Speaking Skills and Oracy in Schools

In a bold move to address a crucial aspect of education, Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party in the UK, has emphasised the significance of speaking skills in children’s lives. Recognising that poor speaking abilities can hinder career prospects, interpersonal relationships, and societal participation, Starmer has pledged to prioritize oracy in Labour’s education reform agenda. His commitment includes the introduction of a new national curriculum focused on enhancing children’s vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, listening skills, and active participation in discussions.  Let’s discuss the significance of speaking skills, why they should be included in education, and the potential effects of Starmer’s proposed reforms.

Why Speaking Skills Matter

Sir Keir Starmer rightly acknowledges that speaking skills go beyond mere presentation abilities. The capacity to express oneself clearly, confidently, and persuasively is an essential skill that enables individuals to thrive in various scenarios, including job interviews, social interactions, and day-to-day communication. Articulating thoughts fluently is not only a means of self-expression but also a critical aspect of personal and professional development.

The Neglected Skillset

Despite the undeniable significance of speaking skills, they are often overlooked in traditional classroom settings. Curriculum focuses primarily on written communication, leaving oral expression as an underdeveloped area. This neglect can lead to a lack of confidence, limited opportunities for collaboration, and an inability to effectively engage in conversations. By prioritizing speaking skills, Starmer aims to bridge this gap and provide all children with equal opportunities to develop their oratory abilities.

The Proposed Reforms

Sir Keir Starmer’s proposal includes the introduction of a new national curriculum for speaking and listening. This curriculum will address key aspects necessary for effective oral communication, such as vocabulary enrichment, grammar proficiency, pronunciation clarity, and active listening skills. By integrating these elements into the core curriculum, Labour’s education reforms strive to equip students with the necessary tools to succeed not only academically but also in their future endeavours.

Expert Support

Education experts have welcomed Starmer’s emphasis on speaking skills. They recognize that strong oracy skills empower children to excel in multiple facets of life. The ability to express oneself fluently and confidently opens doors to employment opportunities, fosters meaningful relationships, and enhances overall social participation. By acknowledging the importance of speaking skills, Starmer aligns with the expert consensus and highlights an area that requires attention and improvement.

Sir Keir Starmer’s commitment to putting speaking skills at the heart of education reform reflects a much-needed shift in focus within the education system. By introducing a new national curriculum for speaking and listening, Labour aims to ensure that all children have equal access to the development of these crucial skills. As speaking skills become embedded in the core curriculum, children will be better prepared to communicate effectively, thrive in their personal and professional lives, and contribute actively to society. Sir Keir Starmer’s vision for education reform offers a promising step towards equipping the next generation with the tools they need to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world.

Build a Listening Culture

Miscommunication is a common problem in many organizations, and it can stem from a lack of effective listening at all levels of the company hierarchy. When management fails to listen to all their staff, it can result in a range of issues, including low employee morale, decreased productivity, and higher turnover rates.

One of the main problems with management not listening to all their staff is that it can lead to a feeling of unappreciation among employees. When employees feel their opinions are not valued or heard, it can result in a lack of motivation and a decreased sense of loyalty to the organization. This can then lead to lower productivity levels and ultimately affect the bottom line of the business.

Furthermore, miscommunication can also occur when feedback is not accurately communicated through company hierarchies. If feedback is not relayed from the lower levels of the organization to upper management, important issues may not be addressed, and the organization may miss out on valuable opportunities to improve its operations. This can result in a lack of innovation and stunted growth for the business.

A study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that employees who felt their voice was heard at work were 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. In contrast, employees who felt their voice wasn’t heard were 2.6 times more likely to say they had been disengaged at work.

“Management that fails to listen to its employees is like a ship that sails without a compass. It may stay afloat for a while, but eventually, it will veer off course and end up lost at sea.”

As the world continues to shift towards hybrid and remote work, it is becoming increasingly important for employers to stay connected with their employees in meaningful ways. One way to achieve this is by using Sound Branch, a platform that allows for easy communication through voice notes.

When it comes to remote work, communication can often be a challenge. Written messages and emails can sometimes be misinterpreted, leading to confusion and frustration. But with Sound Branch, remote workers can communicate with each other in a more personal and engaging way, using voice notes to convey their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

Not only does this foster a sense of connection and community among remote workers, but it also helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to projects and goals. By listening to voice notes from colleagues, remote workers can get a better sense of their coworkers’ perspectives and insights, leading to more effective collaboration and better outcomes.

Sound Branch is especially useful for employers who are looking to connect with their remote workers at scale. By creating a podcast site on Sound Branch, employers can crowdsource voice notes from employees and listen to them on demand. This allows for easy and efficient communication with large groups of employees, regardless of their location.

The platform helps flatten hierarchies within organizations by enabling managers and co-workers to better understand what is happening not just within their own team, but also in other teams, and how their work and issues may impact one another. By providing a centralized platform for communication, Sound Branch helps to break down silos and foster a culture of collaboration and transparency.

With Sound Branch, managers and employees can share updates, ask questions, and provide feedback in real-time. This means that everyone has access to the same information, regardless of their position in the organization, and can make more informed decisions based on a comprehensive understanding of the situation.

Additionally, Sound Branch can help to improve accountability and reduce miscommunications by providing a clear record of all conversations and actions taken. This can help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that issues are addressed promptly and effectively.

In recent years, loneliness in the workplace has become an increasingly prevalent issue. With remote work and flexible schedules becoming more common, many employees may feel disconnected from their colleagues and struggle to build meaningful relationships with others in the organization. This can have negative consequences not just for the individual employee but also for the overall culture and productivity of the workplace. Sound Branch can help combat loneliness and build community in the workplace by providing a platform for employees to connect and communicate with one another.

It’s not just about listening to your staff – it’s about really understanding the message sentiment and the meaning behind the message. Effective communication is not just about the transmission of information; it’s also about understanding the context, emotions, and underlying meaning of what is being communicated. When managers listen to their staff without taking the time to truly understand the message, they risk missing critical information and creating misunderstandings that can lead to disengagement and reduced productivity.

Moreover, it’s important for managers to create a culture of open and honest communication in which employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings. This can be achieved through regular check-ins, one-on-one meetings, and other opportunities for feedback and dialogue. When employees feel heard and understood, they are more likely to be engaged, committed, and motivated, which can ultimately lead to improved performance and business outcomes.

So if you’re looking to improve communication and foster a sense of community among your remote workers, consider using Sound Branch. With its easy-to-use platform and emphasis on voice communication, it’s a great way to stay connected with your team and achieve better results.

To get started listening to your employees at scale:
Create a Podcast Site

The Podcast That Never Ends

Podcasts have become a popular medium for people to consume audio content on the go, whether it’s during their daily commute while working out or doing chores. While traditional podcasts typically have a set length and format, a new podcast format called Sound Branch is shaking things up with its branching timeline of voice notes that allows for never-ending conversation and engagement.

So what are the benefits and advantages of Sound Branch, and why should you consider using it as a listener or creator? Let’s explore.

  1. Never-ending conversation: Sound Branch allows for a branching timeline of voice notes, which means that conversations can continue indefinitely. Listeners can reply to any voice note, and the conversation can continue to grow and evolve in new directions. This creates a more dynamic and engaging listening experience that keeps you hooked and coming back for more.
  2. Interactive and engaging: With Sound Branch, listeners can actively participate in the conversation by leaving their own voice notes and engaging with others. This creates a more interactive and engaging experience that fosters community building and connection. As a creator, you can use this feature to engage with your audience and create a more personal connection with them.
  3. Versatile format: Unlike traditional podcasts that have a set length and format, Sound Branch allows for more flexibility in the format and structure of the podcast. Creators can experiment with different formats, such as interviews, panel discussions, or solo monologues. This allows for more creativity and experimentation, which can lead to more interesting and engaging content.
  4. Easy to use: Sound Branch is designed to be user-friendly and easy to use for both listeners and creators. The app has a simple interface that allows you to browse and search for podcasts, leave voice notes, and reply to others. As a creator, you can easily record and upload your voice notes, and manage your podcast from your dashboard.
  5. Innovative technology: Sound Branch uses innovative technology that allows for seamless integration between voice notes, creating a smooth and natural listening experience. The app also uses machine learning algorithms to recommend relevant podcasts to listeners based on their interests and listening history.

Sound Branch is a new podcast format that offers a more dynamic and engaging listening experience. With its branching timeline of voice notes, interactive and engaging features, versatile format, user-friendly interface, and innovative technology, Sound Branch is poised to disrupt the traditional podcasting industry and usher in a new era of audio content creation and consumption. As a listener or creator, you won’t want to miss out on this exciting new platform.

Get Started and Try Sound Branch as a User

Create Sound Branch Podcast Site for your Team

Empowering Every Voice

In the modern world, communication is key. It is essential that every person has the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions, no matter where they come from or what their background may be. This is why the innovation of Sound Branch is so important.

Sound Branch is a cutting-edge technology that allows individuals to capture and transmit high-quality audio from anywhere in the world. This has revolutionized the way that people communicate, breaking down barriers and making it possible for people to share their stories and perspectives with others.

One of the key benefits of Sound Branch is that it empowers people who might otherwise have limited access to traditional forms of communication. For example, individuals living in rural areas, people with disabilities, and those in developing countries often face challenges when it comes to getting their voices heard. Sound Branch provides a solution, making it possible for these individuals to share their experiences and opinions with the world.

Another important aspect of Sound Branch is that it allows for greater diversity in the media. With this technology, it is possible for a wider range of voices to be represented in the news, podcasts, and other media outlets. This can help to challenge the dominant narratives and bring fresh perspectives to the table.

Furthermore, Sound Branch has the potential to democratize the media, giving individuals the power to create and share their own content. With this technology, anyone can produce a podcast, record an interview, or capture the sounds of their surroundings. This means that individuals have greater control over their own narratives and can share their stories on their own terms.

In conclusion, the innovation of Sound Branch is a game-changer for communication and media. It empowers people to have their voices heard, promotes diversity, and gives individuals greater control over their own narratives. This is why it is so important to embrace and support this technology, and to continue to push for greater accessibility and inclusiveness in the world of communication.

Sign Up to Sound Branch 

Create Podcast Site 

Record Podcasts using Voice Notes

When you think of podcast production, you probably imagine sitting in a room with your interviewees, asking them questions. But what if you could record those interviews without having to set up an appointment? If you use voice notes and Sound Branch, you can easily turn sound-bytes into full podcasts. You can also use this technique for recording educational content for your business or personal brand.

Podcast interview scheduling is hard

If you’re like me, scheduling a podcast interview with someone is difficult. There are several reasons why this is the case:

  • People are busy. Many people have jobs and other obligations that take up their time, and finding an hour or two in their week to sit down with me so I can interview them for my podcast is not always possible.
  • The person I’m trying to schedule an interview with doesn’t want to do it. Maybe they don’t see the value in being on my podcast yet, or maybe they’re just not interested in being interviewed by anyone at all. Either way, it’s hard for me because I’d love for them to be on my show.
  • They might be too busy for editing once we’re done recording our conversation together. Again, if a person isn’t planning on doing any editing themselves then this doesn’t apply as much but even if someone does plan on editing alone after our session together then there’s still some work involved here.

Podcast editing is time-consuming

Editing is the most time-consuming and expensive part of recording podcasts. If you’re not a professional editor, it’s likely that you’ll need help from someone with experience in audio editing. They can help you cut out dead air, fix any mistakes and make sure your podcast sounds its best before sending it off to be published on iTunes or another platform. The first thing to do is to listen to the recording and figure out where you want the cuts to be. If there’s a mistake, like if someone coughs or says something wrong, then you’ll need to edit that out so it doesn’t distract your listeners. You can also cut out any pauses or awkward moments where no one is talking for too long. It’s also a good idea to edit out any dead air. If you’re not sure how much time is too much, try listening to some of your favourite podcasts and see how long they take before starting up again. You’ll want to remove anything that doesn’t directly relate to the topic at hand or add extra value for your listeners.

Tools to record podcast interviews with voice notes

Sound Branch is a platform that allows you to create podcasts without any fancy equipment. It works on Alexa, Google Assistant, iOS, Android and the web. All that’s needed is a laptop or mobile phone for recording. The app records your voice and syncs it with the interviewee’s answers, which makes it easier to edit.

You simply record your questions as voice notes in a playlist and share this with your interviewee so they can record answers. Using voice notes means you have a more flexible schedule for recording and you can take more time. Using voice notes to record podcasts means you edit as you go along rather than at the end of a podcast interview recording. Once you have recorded a voice note you can stick with it or delete and re-record. Voice notes are usually 20 seconds to 2 minutes long and using short voice notes to record podcasts means you can eliminate ummhs and urhs.

Recording podcast interviews with voice notes saves time

Recording podcast interviews with voice notes is a great way to save time. No editing or scheduling is needed because you can edit voice notes as you go along. You can also share your recordings with the interviewee if they want to hear their voice on air and make any changes before the final version is edited for publishing.

You may even find that some people prefer hearing their interview in audio form rather than reading it back in text form (as I do). It’s a nice option to have!

Not only is it easier and faster to record a podcast interview with voice notes, but there are also some great benefits to using this method. First of all, you don’t need any fancy equipment or software because all you need is an iPhone or Android phone with built-in microphones. Second, recording an entire episode using voice notes means that you don’t have to worry about editing. Thirdly, there is no scheduling involved when conducting interviews via phone calls which makes life so much easier!

Get started with a podcast with no fancy hardware needed, no editing and no scheduling:

Create Your Sound Branch Account

Watch Sound Branch Tutorial Videos

A Revolutionary Platform for Asynchronous Recording and Social Podcasting

Need to take your content on the go? Want to be able to easily access it from multiple devices? Sound Branch may be the answer you’re looking for, as it’s an innovative new platform that makes it easy to turn your voice notes into high-quality podcasts that are free to host, free to listen to and free to share on social media. Sound Branch makes podcasting faster and easier than ever before, so if you’re looking for podcast hosting with the added benefit of social sharing, this may be the right solution for you!

Creating an idea for a podcast

What are you passionate about? What topics do you find yourself constantly talking about with your friends? These are the things you should consider when starting a podcast. You need to be interested in your topic to keep recording episodes week after week, otherwise your podcast will fizzle out. Keep your niche small and specific to maintain a loyal audience, but make sure it’s something you’re genuinely interested in discussing. Once you’ve decided on a topic, creating a podcast is easy with Sound Branch.

Creating a playlist and inviting guests

Creating a playlist on Sound Branch is easy and only takes a few minutes. You can either use the default template or create your own custom playlist. Once you’ve created your playlist, invite your guests via email. You can also add other people’s voice notes to your podcast episode. Sound Branch makes it easy to record and syndicate your podcasts, without any need for editing.

Recording you playlist

Podcast episodes are created with voice notes as building blocks. You can record your voice note anywhere, anytime. All you need is a microphone and an internet connection. Once you’re done recording, simply upload the voice note to Sound Branch. Then, our algorithms will turn your voice note into a podcast episode. You can syndicate your episode to Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Plus, you can share your episode with your friends on social media.

Publishing your podcasts

As a podcaster, you’re always looking for new ways to reach your audience. With Sound Branch, you can easily syndicate your podcasts to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. Plus, with our user-generated voice notes, you can easily create podcasts without any editing. Simply record your voice note and we’ll turn it into a podcast episode. You can then publish your episode by associating it with a playlist. It’s that easy!

Sharing your podcast

Now that your podcast is live, it’s time to start promoting it! Share your episodes on social media and write blog posts about your topics to help attract new listeners. You can also submit your podcast to directories like iTunes and Stitcher, which will help people find your show. And don’t forget to reach out to other podcasters in your niche and build relationships – guest appearances on each other’s shows can be a great way to grow your audience.

Get Started with Sound Branch

Whether you’re a seasoned podcaster or just getting started, Sound Branch is the perfect platform for you. With our easy-to-use recording interface and social sharing features, it’s never been easier to create and share your podcasts with the world. Best of all, our service is completely free to use. So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and start podcasting!

Is your workplace ready for podcasting?

The bad thing about working from home is the extra layer of added communication.  Having collaborative meetings at the workplace has moved to online. When there was a time when you could turn around and brainstorm with your colleague now requires it to be scheduled on a calendar. This is tiring and it leads to employee fatigue.

What if communication within the workspace can be trimmed to bit sizes via podcasts?

Well, let’s have a look at how podcasting tools like Sound Branch can be used in your workspace.

1. Easy Status Updates and Day end Catch Ups

Say there’s a team of 10 marketing executives. The boss has decided to set up a scrum call at morning 10 AM every day for  30 minutes. Everyone shares their agenda for the day and discusses roadblocks.

This is 30 minutes of your valuable time just hearing out what your colleagues are up to. This process can be simplified by creating a weekly playlist and uploading snippets of your day’s agenda.

2. Short Interview Introductions

Interviews can be conducted easily and communication skills can be tested with voice notes. Say goodbye to the days when you had to go through resume after resume when the HR personnel can listen to their voice notes from the candidate. This way the first round of an interview can be completed faster.

This can also be used to test a candidate’s skill where questions can be sent to the candidate and the person can respond with their answers.

Voice notes from candidates makes an HR professional’s work much easier.


3. Feedbacks Gathered Easily

Let’s say there is a new design that you’ve worked on and requires your team’s feedback. You can set up a call and give them a walkthrough. The drawback with this approach is that there can be time constraints when a person needs to jump into another call or they might not be fully immersed in your presentation for unknown reasons.

You can make this process easier by creating a project group and requesting your time to share their feedback within a given timeline. This cuts the whole approach of scheduling a meeting and also saves everyone’s time and everyone’s inputs are captured in a repository which makes it easier to go back if more clarity is required.

4. Announcements Made Engaging

A company will have announcements to be made at any given point in time. It could be the latest deal that was signed with a client or achieving milestones.  Does it sound like a good idea to mail this to the entire team when they already have 100s of unread emails sitting in their inbox? Obviously, not.

What if the announcements can be shared as a podcast entry to their entire team? They can carry on with their work while they can listen to the announcement at the same time.

Announcements can directly pop up right on your employee’s timeline.

5. Pick Brains with your Ears 

Veteran employees can create a podcast channel to share their latest marketing insights which can be either open for the public or their closed group.  This helps veterans to share their valuable knowledge with their entire team to implement it in their day-to-day tasks.

This bids adieu to the days when we had to sit for a long time when someone shares their experience or takes a lecture. Instead, the person can share her secret mantra from her couch while enjoying the fire and the employees can listen to them in the morning to get their motivation up and going.

Podcasts can be broadcasted to all the employees.

6. Welcome new employees

When a new employee joins a company in the remote work era, it’s going to be tough for that person to get to know the entire team and vice versa. This might keep them close-knitted only to the team they work for. If there was a physical workplace, the situation is different where they get to know each other with their physical presence.

With the help of tools like Sound Branch. They can share the introduction and voice notes of their key interests for everyone to get to know them outside of work.

With hybrid work models taking over the way people work, companies need to adopt at the earliest to keep their employees happy. With platforms like Sound Branch, companies can make the transition to a new communication model that makes working from home much easier.


Workplace communication for Gen Z: What you need to know

For over a decade now we have been debating over the communication practices or flexibilities that millennials desired at their workplace. And Gen Z has been clubbed in these discussions for the most part. But at the same time, it’s important to not assume that the needs and priorities of Gen Z regarding internal communications will be the same or similar. 

Being the digital-first generation who’s glued to their mobile phones for most part of the day, it can be safely assumed they love technology. It is evident from the studies that 98% of Gen Z owns a Smartphone and more than half of the generation spends about 10 hours everyday on different devices everyday. 

You may then ask, how would Gen Z prefer to communicate in the workplace?

Encourage face-to-face communication

Having grown up in an environment where they were completely surrounded by digital technologies, Gen Z always had an inclination towards in-person communication. 

According to a report, 72% of the Gen Z workforce prefers to have face-to-face communication. And 40% of them expect to communicate daily with their supervisors, lest they feel that something is not well. 

Though this generation is always used to online communication, in matters of professional communication, they prefer to have it face-to-face, else it becomes difficult for them to comprehend certain differences in tone and expectations. Again when it comes to difficult conversations, most of them prefer to have it over text rather than direct communication. 

Embrace new technology  

Equality and knowledge sharing are two of the most critical aspects that Gen Z considers in their workspace. 

Take the example of Sound Branch, which is an extremely smart solution designed to enable and support organization communication and learning through voice-based apps. 

Through this app, its founder Sean Gilligan introduces us to the concept of nano-casting and how it can be leveraged for public broadcasting, sharing team updates, recruiting new team members, and much more. 

Using this voice-based social communication app, you can now easily:

  • Communicate with voice-based messages — You can share voice notes through private or group channels. It helps in saving the time to type the message and as we speak four times faster, we can utilize time better. 

audio profiles with sound branch

  • Hire using voice based notes – You can encourage a personable hiring experience by using voice notes to create audio profiles that can be shared with the hiring committee.
  • Create podcasts that require zero editing knowledge — You can now create podcasts as easily as sending an email. Editing is one of the major hassles of podcasting. With Sound Branch you can simply create voice notes in 20 seconds and then stitch them together without taking any pain to edit those voice notes. Then, you can publish and share them through the popular distribution channels like Spotify, Google Podcasts, Alexa, Apple Podcasts, and more.

The best part is now you can connect your favorite apps and tools with Sound Branch and enjoy a hassle-free experience. Here are the most popular ones that will help you get started:

  • Amazon Alexa — Use it to play your inbox, timeline, or conversations 
  • Google Assistant — Listen to your voice messages using Sound Branch commands
  • Google Drive — Enjoy the flexibility of adding voice notes to your Google Docs 
  • Slack — Share sound bites through your Slack channels or apps
  • Twitter — Attach sound bites to Twitter and share them with your followers
  • Totara Learn — Bring learning forums to life by lending a voice to your Learning Management System (LMS)

Final thoughts 

Voice-based apps are indeed a smart solution that are meant to adopt and address the ‘new normal’ world of remote working especially after the unwanted repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sounch Branch has the potential to not only encourage effective communication at the workplace but also save time by creating your own podcast website. 

We’re sure you’re there with us on this journey. Book a demo call to learn more about the product and how it functions. 

The Voice Revolution: A Short History


2019 has been a year of ambitious development and growth for voice technology.

Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all invested heavily, making improvements to their software as well as introducing new capabilities and features. Ventures Anywhere have mirrored this investment into the sector, driven by a belief in its potential and a commitment to be industry leaders. Our pioneering developments in voice tech have included: 

Sound Branch – a unique ‘voice notes’ social-platform, which allows users to share short and easy-to-record audio files, which can then be converted into professional podcasts or used for a plethora of business purposes – such as feedback, recruitment and analysis.

Mums Anywhere – the first ‘reality radio’ – providing a platform for its users to share and access advice/tips from other parents. After positive promotion from mummy influencers such as Ferne McCann, Marnie Simpson, Cara De La Houd, Cally-Jane and the Modern Midwife, MumsAnywhere ranked 15 on the social charts in January 2018 and to date has had 10,000 downloads.

In the next 12 months, it is certain that voice-activated services will become a much bigger part of our everyday lives – at work as well as home. In fact, by the end of this year, the voice market is predicted to be “a $601 million industry” according to a report from Technavio. However, this be a conservative estimate as, by 2021, it’s believed there will be more voice assistants on the planet than there are people (according to research firm Ovum). This growth represents a huge shift in the nature of human interaction with digital technology.

As ASR (automatic speech recognition) continues to improve and AI becomes more and more cognitive, the use of voice tools will undoubtedly become increasingly mainstream. However, voice technology is by no means new, despite its recent surge in popularity with consumers.

Below is a condensed history of the key milestones in the sector. These illustrate that (as with all technological advances) growth is exponential – as developers strive forward by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’.

Voice Technology – Key Milestones



  • 1952 – Davis, Biddulph and Balashek at Bell Laboratories build Audrey, Speech Recognizer for strings of digits
  • 1981 – The Applied Voice Input Output Society (AVIOS) is founded
  • 1982 – Husband & Wife Dr. James Baker and Dr. Janet M. Baker found Dragon Systems
  • 1987 – Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie found Lernout & Hauspie
  • 1994 – Mike Phillips and Bill O’Farrell found SpeechWorks
  • 1994 – Nuance Communications founded as a spin-off of SRI International’s Speech Technology and Research (STAR) Laboratory
  • 1994 – Wildfire Communications launches the Wildfire Assistant
  • 1995 – The Quarterly ‘Speech Technology Magazine’ begins publication
  • 1995 Microsoft Releases its Speech API, SAPI 1.0, on Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.51
  • 1999 – Mike McCue and Angus Davis Found Tellme Networks
  • 2000 – SpeechWorks goes public
  • 2000 – Orange purchases Wildfire Communications for $142MM
  • Jan 2004 – James Siminoff and William Price found PhoneTag
  • May 2005 – Microsoft launches Microsoft Speech Server
  • 2006 – Mike Phillips and John Nguyen break off Nuance and launch Vlingo
  • Mar 2007 – Microsoft Acquires Tellme for $800MM
  • April 2007 – Nuance Communications Acquires BeVocal
  • 2008 – The Association for Voice Interaction Design (AVIXD) is founded
  • Jun 2008 – Nuance Communications sues Vlingo for alleged patent infringement
  • Dec 2008 – PhoneTag rebrands as Simulscribe
  • Dec 2009 – Nuance Communications acquires Speech to Text provider Spinvox
  • Sept 2009 – SimulScribe Signs Exclusive Partnership Agreement with Ditech Networks
  • Feb 2010 – Siri is published as a mobile app on iOS
  • April 2010 – Apple Acquires Siri
  • Nov 2010 – Nuance Communications acquires PerSay
  • June 2011 – Google Announces Voice Search
  • June 2011 – Nuance Communications files another lawsuit against Vlingo
  • Oct 2011 – Apple Launches Siri on 4S
  • Nov 2011 – Amazon Acquires Yap
  • Dec 2011 – Nuance Communications acquires Vlingo
  • Aug 2012 – Nuance Announces Neena
  • Aug 2012 – UCIC Launches its Ubi Kickstarter campaign
  • Aug 2012 – Angel.com Announces Lexee
  • Sept 2012 – Nuance Communications acquires Ditech Networks
  • Jan 2013 – Amazon Acquires Poland based Text to Speech provider Ivona
  • June 2013 – Genesys Acquires Angel.com
  • Aug 2013 – Facebook Acquires Speech Translation startup Jibbigo
  • Oct 2013 – XOWi launches its Voice Badge Kickstarter Campaign
  • April 2014 – Microsoft Announces Cortana
  • Oct 2014 – The Ubiquitous Voice Society Launched
  • Nov 2014 – Amazon Echo Available Prime members
  • January 2015 – Facebook Acquires Wit.AI
  • April 2015 – Amazon Echo launches Connected Home capabilities
  • June 2015 – The Amazon Echo is Generally Available
  • June 2015 – Alexa Skills Kit Generally Released
  • June 2015 – Amazon Launches The Alexa Fund
  • June 2015 – Alexa Voice Service (AVS) Kit Generally Released
  • Dec 2015 – SoundHound Launches Houndify Platform
  • March 2016 – Amazon Tap and Echo Dot Generally Released
  • May 2016 – Facebook Acquires VR Audio Two Big Ears
  • Sept 2016 – Amazon Announces arrival of Alexa and the Echo in UK and Germany
  • Sept 2016 – Google Acquires API.AI
  • Oct 2016 – Samsung Acquires Viv
  • Nov 2016 – Google Home Generally Released
  • Dec 2016 – Google Action Announces Google Assistant Partners
  • Feb 2017 – Amazon Announces its Alexa Partners
  • April 2017 – Google Home Supports Voice ID
  • April 2017 – Google announces the general availability of Google Assistant SDK for hardware makers
  • May 2017 –  Microsoft Announces Cortana on Harman-Kardon’s Invoke speaker
  • June 2017 – Samsung releases Bixby in the United States
  • June 2017 – Echo Show Generally Available
  • Aug 2017 – Google Home Supports Voice Calling
  • Aug 2017 – Walmart and Google Partner on Voice-based Shopping
  • Aug 2017 – Amazon closes its acquisition of Whole Foods
  • Aug 2017 – Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana Interoperability Announced
  • Aug 2017 – Sony announces its Google Assistant powered LF-S50G smart speaker
  • Sept 2017 – Amazon launches Echo Spot and Echo Plus
  • Oct 2017 – Amazon Alexa Supports Voice Calling
  • Oct 2017 – Amazon supports VoiceID
  • Oct 2017 – Amazon introduces paid subscriptions for Alexa skills
  • Oct 2017 – Ventures Anywhere launch Sound Branch
  • Nov 2017 – Amazon announces that Alexa and Amazon Echo products will be available in Canada starting December 2017
  • Feb 2018 – Apple Launches Homepod
  • May 2018 – SoundHound Closes $100 Million Funding Round
  • May 2018 – SoundHound Closes $100 Million Funding Round
  • May 2018 – Amazon opens more monetization tools for Alexa developers
  • May 2018 – Cortana & Alexa Officially Announced
  • May 2018 – Google Home overtakes Amazon Echo in smart speaker sales for first time
  • Aug 2018 – Samsung Announces the Galaxy Home smart speaker
  • Aug 2018 – Cortana and Alexa become available on each other’s platforms
  • April 2019 – Amazon Alexa launches its first HIPAA-compliant medical skills
  • June 2019 – Ventures Anywhere launch first ‘reality radio’ with MumsAnywhere

Podcasting for all

One of the main barriers to starting a podcast is the perception that to produce anything of decent quality, you need lots of money, a studio or a voice booth… This is no longer the case.

The majority of modern smartphones now come with high-quality microphones and there are apps, such as Sound Branch, that allow you to upload and host your podcasts easily, editing and distributing them to the world with little or no experience.

Why start a podcast?

A key commercial reason is that Google has started to index podcasts and lists them in its search results. AirPods are gaining in popularity and more and more households have smart speakers like Alexa and Google Home. As this hardware is one of the fasting-growing pieces of home tech, audio content will undoubtedly become more every day. Microphones are going into everything. Samsung alone has committed to having microphones in all of its products by 2020.

The importance of ‘Sonic Branding’

Brands and businesses now need to think about not only about how they look but also how they sound. Podcasts offer businesses a more intimate and personable way of communicating with their customers and deliver effective ‘sonic branding’.

People often listen to podcasts in environments where normally ‘work-life’ doesn’t penetrate… on their daily commute, whilst cooking at home or even relaxing on a beach on holiday. So, whether you are trying to educate customers, launch a new product/service or drive a key marketing message, podcasts should be included as a key marketing channel. Millennials, in particular, love podcasts because they’re on-demand and allow the ability to pause, rewind and playback.

How do I get started?

You don’t need to “go live” to the world at the start of your podcasting journey. It makes sense to start publishing internally at first. This helps you identify those who are most comfortable being recorded. Not all people are natural storytellers but, for those who are, stories are the most effective way to engage users – allowing them to remember and learn.

Most people ask Alexa to play the news, play music or set an alarm as part of everyday life but if you can get people listening to your content, as another part of their daily routine, their relationship with your business/brand will become even stronger.

If you already have a smart speaker and listen to podcasts, why not try creating a flash briefing or podcast and see the benefits for yourself?