Start with a Plan
Before you begin recording, take some time to think about what the focus is for your podcast. How long do you want the show to last and what types of guests do you want to have, if any at all? What kind of speaking tone is best suited for what you’re trying to do? Great microphones and recording equipment won’t save poorly thought out ideas.
Pick a Podcasting Place
If you’re going to be doing recording on a regular basis, try to pick a place where you can set up your equipment and leave it connected.
This is a real time saver, and helps you stay focused on your vocal delivery, instead of worrying about setting up wires and equipment. The ideal place would be somewhere quiet, with a minimum of distractions.
If possible, pick a place that has carpet or curtains that absorb and deaden the sound. Reflective rooms with hard floors and hard, parallel walls will bounce your voice off their surfaces and back into the microphone, creating a boxy room ambiance and flutter echoes.
If you must record in a bad environment, try to use a directional microphone, and record close to the microphone to minimize the room’s ambiance.
If you’re recording on the road and can’t find a quiet place to record, a parked car with the engine off is a surprisingly good acoustic environment.
Is This Thing On?
Before starting to record, do a ten second test, speaking at your normal voice level. This way, if something’s not hooked up, or the microphones level is wrong, you’ll catch it before you launch into a long performance. When you start your real recording, check to make sure the recorder has started, and give a few seconds of silence at the front, so that your intro words don’t accidentally get cut off.
Nothing hurts worse than delivering a perfect performance, only to realize that the microphone level was too low, or that the recorder didn’t start.
Effective speakers use variations in their voice’s tone, pacing, and volume to keep their listeners engaged. Pay special attention to your favorite podcasters or radio hosts the next time you hear them. Can you identify what it is about their voice presentation that draws you in?
If your voice sounds scratchy, try an old trick used by singers everywhere: drink some hot tea with honey.
Soda and dairy drinks hurt your vocal performance, so you may want to avoid them when you record. Using a pop filter on your microphone helps to reduce popping P’s and B’s in the recording, and makes the overall recording sound more professional.
You’re Going to Edit That, Right?
Depending on your format, once you finish recording, you may need to do some editing
If you had to repeat a sentence in the recording because of a mistake, you’ll want to delete the old sentence and replace it. When editing vocal phrases together, be careful not to make a splice in the middle of someone taking a breath. This is a dead giveaway that the audio was edited in that spot. When splicing phrases together, try to pay attention to the pacing in the voice.
If a speaker needs to repeat a line, it’s helpful to play back a couple lines preceding the one to be recorded when re-recording it. This lets the speaker get into the same voice and rhythm he was using in the original recording. This makes splicing the two together in a convincing way later much easier.
There’s lots of different skills to master to become a successful podcaster, so if you’re not totally happy with your first efforts, don’t give up.
I’ve never met a podcaster who thought their first episode was perfect. Podcasts always seem to clarify and reveal their unique nature as time goes on, so the most important thing is to get started and to start learning by doing. Don’t let a desire for perfection stop you; Keep doing your best, and you’ll end up with appreciative listeners and a great podcast!