How to record a podcast - tips for interviewing people remotely and the recording tools Adam Broadway uses.

A funny thing happened on the way to this Podcast tutorial.

@lizign, a work collegue here at Adobe, tweeted:  @Lizign
Well I've been doing Podcasts with Jackson Palmer, @AdobeBC, for over 12 months now, so I thought "Why not see if I've got some podcast tutorial gems to share."

So I did a big brain dump email for Joe and Jeff and hoped it didn't smell too bad.  Then thought others out there might like to learn some Podcast recording secrets too.

After reading, please if you've got comments, critique, any links to other resources, or other ways to improve on this Podcast recording tutorial, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments at the bottom, groovy!

The gist of the email I sent Joe and his mate Jeff :

Hi Joe and Jeff,

Here's a brain-dump / run-through of how I go about creating a Podcast and the tools I use.
It’s not exhaustive, but a work in progress - hope it helps!
- I'm assuming that you'll be interviewing people in other locations.


Calendar of topics

  • Try and plan 3 months ahead a rough outline of what you want to talk about.
  • Creating a theme throughout your Podcast that will help to create stickiness, and so you can allude to what's coming out in the next episode.  You want to leave people satisfied with this episode, but wanting to hear more.
  • A theme might include a monthly trivia piece a 'tip of the month' or 'on this day in 1890'.... use your imagination.



Script.

  • Create a general outline of content for the Podcast
  • Write out the script in ‘spoken voice’, write the copy as you would say it.
  • Read it out loud to yourself / rehearse.  Some word combinations can tongue tie you and might need changing.
  • LESS IS MORE.  
  • STORIES are engaging
  • Emotion, passion, humor, confidence (this is NOT arrogance) and just being yourself is key.
  • If you want to be controversial, go right ahead, but showing respect will win you a genuine audience, rather than lurkers and voyeurs.
  • How long is long enough?  Depending on how compelling the topic is, how engaging the speaker is and how long the listener has, this can be a moving target.
    - 5 minute snippets and 20 minute detailed podcasts. Though I've been known to listen to a 40 minute recording, but ONLY when it was really engaging and almost story like.
  • People are only going to remember 3 main points, so summarize those and reinforce your points multiple times.
  • Product placement and Advertising SUX worse than grandmas sloppy kiss on your 12 year old cheek.
    • ANY SPONSORSHIP, editorial or blatant sell-job had better be VERY entertaining, world changing and unique or include some knowledge sharing that doesn't require the listener to do anything more than to listen and learn (don't demand a sign up. good content will compel the listener to want in.)


Set a date / deadline for the recording...

...and if you’re interviewing someone, then jump on the phone to them right now, don't put it off for tomorrow, and sync your diaries.
Always email a few different days and times for them to pick from.

 

Always make it easy for your guest.

Do all the leg work for anyone you interview. Send them a concise email with a list of helpful links and ideas they might want to talk about, right down to a TimeAndDate.com link if they're in another city: http://timeanddate.com/worldclock/meetingtime.html
Spoon feed all the steps you're going to go through to make this a great interview for them, so they're not going to worry about logistics (too much).
This keeps them focused on their expert opinion / commentary, which is what you want for great Podcast content.

 

Rehearse your questions, read through the interview key points, Read out loud, Revise the content,

  • Avoid Umms and Errs and Ahhs and chewing gum and coughing….. Or edit those bits out in post-production
  • Pause when you're not sure what to say next. Don't umm & ahhh. err OK?

Look after your primary tool - your voice!

  • A glass of ROOM TEMPERATURE water is important.  Keep your throat lubricated.
  • Coffee and dairy isn't a good idea before a recording - drink that well before your start talking. Sip warm water right after your coffee fix.
  • Blow your nose!  A clear nasal passage helps your breathing and a bonus: no-one will be distracted by the green bat hanging out of your nose cave!
    Having a box of tissue's handy is also a good idea if your podcast content and interviews get on the emotional side. Lets face it, some interviewers can bore you to tears! ;)



Do a test recording

There's nothing worse than recording white noise for 30 mins and technical glitches can happen, like broken mics (or sticking them in the wrong hole - of course I've not had that problem. ;)

  • Just before the recording, have some preamble before the formal interview, get some general chit-chat going to relax them and mention "If there's anything you want me to remove or re-record, just shout and I'll fix it in the mix, post-production.
  • Be aware of background noise!
    Mouse clicks, keyboard tapping, chewing food and police sirens are distracting sounds that are time consuming to remove post-production.  BUT, ambient noise in a noisy environment - if you're recording at a cafe, outdoors or a conference, is quite fine - as long as its consistent sound throughout the recording.   The amazing human brain can filter out non-contextual sounds if the sound pattern is constant and unrelated to the main spoken voice.  Just be mindful of distracting sounds.

Stop and play-back before recording the formal interview.

Intro and Outro

(start and finish) of the podcast is a good place to re-enforce the identity of your podcast.
Consistency, something catchy helps build rememberability (is that a word?), to your recordings.  "Hi and welcome to Podcast #n.  Joe from MySQLtalk, ready to impact wisdom on all things relational!"   "This is Joe from MySQLTalk, signing off: "May your Tables be normalized! Or not!" queue the outro music.

I like to include a bloopers snippet after the outro music.  It's an Easter egg that brings a smile - but not a requirement, I'm just a silly guy.

Dealing with mistakes during the recording.

  • Reassure your interviewee that "we can fix it in the mix".
    "Hey, if you stumble or need a second take, just pause and tell me.  We'll clap 3 times for a sound marker and edit it out later." You can find these clap markers easily when viewing the wave file.
  • This also relaxes the person speaking, because the pressure is taken off a little and they'll end up doing a better job.  
  • If you or guest has to cough or sneeze, fix it in post-production

Save your recording IMMEDIATELY afterwards

AND copy the file to a separate drive, drop box, USB key, email a copy to yourself at gmail.
Imagine having recorded the most incredible pod cast in history, the one that included a spontaneous verbalization of the principals of Quantum mechanics. And your Hard Drive failed the next day!!
  • If you interviewed someone remotely and the interviewee also recorded (for mixing later), then ask them to save and send the file right away. 

Promote!

  • Investigate "Where do your listeners hang out?"
  • BLOG and email your updates
  • RSS feed for lovers of your dulcet tones and insight, to easily subscribe
  • Make it easy to SHARE, wherever it seems relevant for your content to exist, not just social sharing widgets for the sake of it.
    • A big choice of social media like / share / + this, adds more confusion than choice, so go easy. Surely your target audience will have one out of 4 options?

MAKE IT EASY for the listener.
Provide choice:

Audio recording / Tools:

 

Audacity ROCKS

MAC ,  Windows ,  Linux/Unix
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

Skype.com

I mostly use Skype for conversations, and there are two ways to record:

A.   Use an external recording application on BOTH SIDES of the conversation.

B.   From within Skype:
http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/06/how-to-record-skype-conversations.html

I find option A. is superior.

The key to a good Podcast, apart from great content, is Audio Quality.
Audacity is a seriously awesome FREE (leave a donation, the developer is a legend), piece of software:  http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/  

 

 

Adobe Audition CS5.5

This is what I use for post production.

  • http://www.adobe.com/products/audition.html
  • I can drag / drop multiple tracks, line up recordings, sound effects, backing music all on different tracks and get the volume levels all perfect.
  • Import a huge range of audio formats.
  • Cut segments of umms / ahhs / coughs and bloopers.

Backing Track / intro and outro.

Non-vocal music can lift the mood of your podcast.  I use tracks from:
http://audiojungle.net/   (I'm not using an affiliate link here.)

Sound Effects
There are Free sound effect resources, but make sure you're not violating any copyright using them.

Microphone and Headphones

I use a basic condenser mic I pulled out of my kids BopIt toy.  Cost $10.
The quality is better than other mics that cost $200.  Crazy stuff.
http://www.cnet.com/topic-reviews/microphone.html

It's more important to check the audio settings on your PC / MAC and experiment recording at various settings.  
Mic Boost generally distorts.  A cheap piece of packing foam over a mic can also help with SSSsssesss.

Any headphones will do - my phone headphones work just fine.

If you can get the interviewee to record their side and send you a WAV or MP3 recording of their part of the conversation, you can stitch the two parts together, creating the impression that you’re both in the same room.

But if you're recording a hands free telephone conversation is fine, as long as the speaker quality is high and you're not picking up too much background noise.

Podcast Audio Output / Export

I save as MP3 and make available for download, streaming and on the Apple iTunes Store.
Example of MP3 stream with Flash and Downloadable is here:
http://www.businesscatalyst.com/_blog/BC_Blog/post/Listen_to_Episode_12_of_the_BC_Podcast!/

Example email to send to your Interviewee:


Hi < >

Thanks for being interested in doing an interview, I know our audience will learn a lot from your insights and real-life stories.

I’m looking for an article or story (whatever writing style you prefer) to put on the BC Evangelist site. http://bcevangelist.businesscatalyst.com/

A topic you’re passionate about.
It might be:
-      a best practice piece for small business partners, not just in technology, but solid, proven business “thought-leadership”.
-     A BC tech ‘how-to’.
-     Thoughts on User Experience Design
-     A Case Study on your most complex BC Site Build.

In combination with the Blog article, I’II record a Skype interview starting off with these questions:

-          You in under 5 words!
-          Who inspires you?
-          What advice were you given that you never forgot?
-          Where or who do you turn to for help?
-          Top 3 MOST important points of your presentation/article

In your words, a Two paragraph synopsis of your advice:
Title example “How to turn a once-off project into a life-long business relationship”  Or  “Why it’s stupid to include a FB page link on your Branded website pages.”
(I’m making this up.)

This shouldn’t be a chore (too much), so any parts that are onerous, or better covered by a recorded conversation, we can do over the phone/skype interview.
Feel free to choose your own topic!  I reference back to your site and hope it gives you good coverage.

When we record the interview, I’ll get you to record your side, send through the audio file and I’ll mix together.

We will also highlight you in the Partner newsletter and BC Blog  http://businesscatalyst.com/_blog/bc_blog

So there's my brain dump for now......

I'd love to get your comments and ideas to add more to this Podcast Tutorial list.
And if you're interested in being part of my Podcast, let me know on this contact form.

Thanks again to @lizign and @joedevon for prompting me to write this up.

OH!! Almost forgot, here's how I go about embedding the Podcast MP3 streaming, MP3 download and iTunes link.

Listen to this blog as a podcast:

Simply click the play button below to stream the podcast via your browser.

Alternatively, you can download the podcast in .mp3 format for offline listening.

To subscribe and receive the BC Podcast each month, you can find us on the iTunes store here or by simply searching "BC Podcast" from iTunes.

In our last episode:

  • A recap of BC @ MAX 2011
    • Hear what Partners had to say about this year's event
    • Catch full recordings of all our great sessions and Unconference presentations
  • The future of Business Catalyst
    • Find out what to expect from Business Catalyst v3
    • Learn how you can begin using the new and improved UI and Liquid markup today
  • A HTML brain-teaser - win one of three copies of the official Adobe Business Catalyst book! Simply be one of the first three commenters to answer correctly


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