Podcast recording

How to record a podcast

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How to record a podcast

Great news! You’re about to begin your podcasting journey! Feeling a little nervous? Don’t worry, you’ve got this and here are our tips on how to record a podcast.

The planning

Ok, we’re going to assume that you’ve decided on your podcast’s purpose, the type of show you’re going to record, who your target listener is, have bought a decent mic, chosen your podcast hosting platform and decided on how you’re going to measure your podcast’s success, no? Then you need to step away from the mic as you’re nowhere ready to press record. Only when you’ve sorted out your podcast planning should you attempt to go near the mic. Fail to plan and plan to fail.

The pre-flight check

Ok, we’re going to assume again that you’re a single show host who is going to be talking remotely to a guest probably in an interview style. So you’ve landed a really cool guest who is potentially giving up 30 – 40 minutes or more of their day so being prepared is key. Here is a quick checklist:

• Have you researched your guest and have you agreed on the broad themes you’re going to talk about?
• Have you sent clear joining instructions (if they are joining remotely)?
• Have you run through your pre-flight checks? For example, will they be using a mic? Do they have headphones? Where are they physically recording? Is their WiFi signal strong?
• Do you have their contact details if you or they are running late?
• Have you written an introduction script about your guest? Will you be recording this with the guest live or are you going to add it later?
• If you have agreed on questions in advance then great, if not, have you written some questions ideas down and are you happy for the conversation to grow organically?
• If your guest hasn’t been on a podcast before, have you explained how everything works? Some guests freeze when they get behind the mic, so are you prepared for that?
• Is your show family friendly or more of an adult-themed podcast? Are you clear on bad language or terms that could offend others?
• If your podcast is likely to be critical of someone or something, are you clear on what might be considered be libellous?
• Have you agreed on a release date and what have you agreed with the guest about promoting the episode?
• Will you be using ‘release’ forms and if so, has the guest signed it?

Podcast recording

Ok so the guest is in the green room and you’re about to press record so just time for a few last-minute reminders:

• Assuming the recording isn’t live, remind the guest of that fact! Tell them they can re-phrase an answer, or answer again if they stumble over their words. It’s ok for you to pause too! That’s the magic of editing and post-production!
• Make sure the volume levels are ok and you can hear one another
• Agree with the guest on how much time they have. If they are running to a meeting straight after and need a hard stop that is good to know so you can make sure you get your key questions in.
• Remind them to close any apps they don’t need (notifications are a nightmare for podcasters!) and also silence their phone.
• Remind them that you are going to ask them for their contact details (if agreed beforehand) on the recording e.g. “How do listeners get hold of you?”

The interview

You’ll get better with practice. Most podcasters cringe when they hear their first episodes and for some, it can be uncomfortable listening to their voice. Do I really sound like that? Yes, you do!

Podcast interviewing is a skill and with each episode you do, you’ll get better. Here are some quick tips:

• You will have good and bad interviews. Every podcaster has war stories of nightmare episodes that for whatever reason just didn’t work. It could be the tech breaks down, the guest freezes behind the mic and becomes monosyllabic, the interview becomes hostile, you run out of questions or you simply don’t like the guest and are unable to build a rapport.
• Slow down. When we’re nervous and yes you will be, we tend to talk faster and at a higher pitch. So slow it down so your guest and listeners can hear your question and you’ll also sound much more authoritative.
• It’s ok to have pauses. You don’t have to fill every second with dialogue. If your guest is explaining something profound, you might wish to pause for a second or two to help communicate to the listeners that was an important moment.
• If recording audio-only remote podcasts where you can’t see your guest, this can be tricky from a cue perspective. There is a tendency to use filler words and sounds such as um and ah to let your guest know you’re still there. The answer is to use these sounds sparingly.
• You must show emotion. If the story is funny then laugh. If it’s sad then it’s ok to have a catch in your voice. It is not ok to shriek with laughter (unless of course, you’re a comedy show) or blub with tears throughout an entire episode.
• If you can help it, don’t interview if you’re feeling unwell, low or angry. Cancel if possible as it will show in your voice. Strange but true. Also, it’s not fair on your guest if you’re in a bad mood or coughing and sneezing every 5 seconds.
• Have a teaspoon of honey. Helps makes the voice sound smoother. Look after your voice before you record. If you’ve been screaming and shouting at a game before you record, you won’t sound your best.

After the interview

Well done, you’ve almost made it to the end! Here’s what to do next:

• Thank the guest for their time even if the interview has been appalling. Kindness costs nothing!
• Be prepared to lie. If the guest says “So how did I do” or “do you think I sounded a bit flat” deny it! Again kindness costs nothing and it’s amazing what can be done with editing!
• Agree on the next steps; release date, will you be sending them a rough edit, do they have final approval etc.
• Chill out. Podcasting is hard work and you can feel pretty drained after an interview.

The technical bit

There are plenty of options for podcasters to consider here but what we have noticed becoming increasingly popular are remote recording platforms such as Zencastr, Riverside.fm and Squadcast. These platforms have been specifically designed for podcast recording and allow podcasters to talk to guests all over the world.

Many of these platforms also include a video option which can be helpful when interacting with your guest. You can record a video podcast on some remote recording platforms too which is great if you want to use footage of your show on YouTube or to promote it on social media.

For those new to podcasting, the remote platforms offer some great technical addons:

Local recording

When you record locally, the recording will take place on your computer instead of over the internet. Local recordings avoid disruptions caused by a bad internet or WiFi connection and will ensure good-quality audio and video, regardless of your internet connection.

Separate tracks

This function allows you to edit out rogue noises such as police sirens, helicopters and guns! No seriously, suppose that during the interview, one of your guests coughs or there is a distracting noise coming from one of your guests’ sides. Having separate tracks will enable you to edit such noises and prevent them from affecting the whole conversation. By having each of your guests be recorded in different tracks, you’ll be able to silence any unwanted parts from a specific guest’s side without having to delete any content from the other tracks.

Progressive uploading

With this feature, everyone’s track in the session will upload at the same time the recording is taking place. By having every member’s audio and video uploaded progressively in the background, you’ll make sure nothing gets lost if one of the members disconnects from the session before the end. Progressive uploading also makes the final upload time much shorter since the files are being uploaded during the recording.

Recording a podcast can be a complex process for those new to podcasting, so let The Podcasterists guide you through the process and help produce a show you can be proud of.

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