Making a podcast

Contents

Introduction

Types of audio

⭐ Name: Short form podcast
🎙 Uses
1. May accompany a blog post
2. May or may not be scripted
3. ‘Top tips’ style
4. Good for a quick guide to a technique or strategy
🗣 Tone: Relaxed, informative
⏲ Approximate length: 3–20 minutes

⭐ Name: Long form podcast
🎙 Uses
1. A conversation between 2 or 3 people, covering pre-agreed points
2. Ideal for an interview or conversation with subject matter expert.
3. Unscripted. This doesn’t mean unplanned, but words shouldn’t be read out from a script.
🗣 Tone: Conversational, informative, interesting
⏲ Approximate length: 20–60 minutes

Podcast creation workflow

2. What is your podcast about? Again, another seemingly easy question, but ask it anyway. This will help you narrow down your material. If this is a short intro for embedded program content, then you’ll likely only have one or two points to make about the content that follows. Whereas if you want to make a longer podcast, it’s a good idea to write down (and then edit) the points you want to make and the topics you want to cover.

3. Who needs to be involved? Maybe it’s just you and a microphone, maybe you want to get a few perspectives. Think about how many voices you want to include, think about the diversity of those voices and how they relate to the subject matter. Why are you including them? Do you need a member of the Student Team too? You want to strike a balance between the right amount of input and overwhelming the listener with a lot of voices. Also, usually more voices means a longer podcast, so be careful to stick to your plan.

4. What do you want your listeners to get out of your podcast? Point 1 in this list looked at this question from your perspective, now it’s time to think about what listeners will be getting out of the experience. Is your podcast replacing other materials? Are you hoping to help people learn a new skill or technique? Setting out these outcomes will make it easier to see if you’ve created what you set out to create.

5. Make a plan — if you’re working on a conversational podcast, then you won’t write a script, but you will have specific topics and a particular order in which you want to talk about them. Share this with the other people involved in your podcast. If it’s more of an interview, check the questions with the interviewee first of all so they can prepare.

How to decide what kind of podcast to record

Recording your podcast

  1. Find a quiet space
    Most simply start with it needs to be a space that is as quiet as possible. Consider ambient noise such as fans, heating, appliances. Can you turn them off while you record? Are you sitting near a window where there’s potential for traffic or noise from outside?
  2. Improve the acoustics
    Reduce echo and the potential for noise bouncing off hard surfaces. Echo and reverberation occurs if your recording in a space where there’s a lot of hard surfaces. So its best to avoiding rooms like kitchens. Rooms with a lot of soft furnishing such as carpeted floors, curtains and comfy seating are best.
    Consider where you’re sitting within the room to reduce sound reflecting off walls and surfaces. Can you record towards the centre of the space?
  3. Record the ambient noise
    Recording the ambient noise in your space for at least 10 seconds is a great idea. This is because all spaces have some type of noise even when you think it’s silent. Sound editing tools like Audacity can use the 10 seconds of silence to analyze and remove the ambient noise from your recordings.

Audio version: As this kind of recording only needs one voice and one mic, you can record directly into audio software such as Audacity. Audacity is free and there are many guides on how to set up Audacity to record clear vocals. This is a good tutorial.

Short and long form podcasts: If you are recording remotely with more than one person, a good tool to use is Cleanfeed. There is a free version, which allows you to record your microphone and your guests microphones separately. This is going to make editing your podcast so much easier. Yes, you could just record it via zoom, but having your audio on separate channels is going to make the editing process smoother and easier, and what’s not to like about that? Here’s a guide on how to record your first podcast with Cleanfeed. Your guests won’t need an account and it’s a very simple tool to use.

It’s sensible to do a quick test recording to make sure everything is working okay.

Editing your podcast

A good basic rule is follow the ENCN process, regardless of the editing software you are using. This stands for Equalize, Normalize, Compress, Normalize.

1. Equalize

High pass filter: this is what you want to use if you’ve got low rumblings in your recording. It allows the higher frequencies to ‘pass’ and catches lower frequencies.

For more detailed information, try this guide.

2. Normalize

3. Compress

4. Normalize

Editing out silences and filler words

The best way to avoid over-editing is to keep listening back to what your podcast sounds like. Make sure to keep some shorter pauses in there, to ensure it has a natural flow. It can help to say the phrase that you are editing out loud yourself. Where does the pause naturally appear?

Listen to the differences between these examples:

Original audio example

The original audio

Over edited example

An example of over editing

Regular edit example

An example of how to edit audio so it sounds natural

Accessibility

  • Provide a transcript — The best tool for this (at the time of writing this guide) is Zoom’s auto captioning service. Follow these steps to create and access a cloud recording. Once you have your transcript, copy and paste it into a Word document and edit it. Zoom’s auto captioning service is really good, but it’s not perfect, and depending on accents or how fast someone speaks, there will be edits to make. The auto captioning function doesn’t do punctuation or capitalisation either, so you will need to edit these aspects of your transcript too. Note: If your podcast is already scripted, just provide the script instead — though make sure you make a note if you move off script, so the students using the transcript don’t miss out.

Once your podcast has been through checks and editing, it will be uploaded to Soundcloud and eScholar. Soundcloud is an accessible audio player option, it has keyboard control and can be embedded in many different places.

Non-Audio edits

  • Edits to the transcript — Does your transcript match the audio? If there are a few filler words in the audio (such as “ahh” and “erm”), there’s no need to include them in the transcript.
  • Show notes — If you listen to podcasts you’ll no doubt be familiar with the phrase, “We’ll put the link in the show notes”. In Short or Long form podcasts, you may refer to websites or books in the podcast audio. Don’t forget to send these show notes to be checked along with the rest of your content.

Checks

At this stage they should be listening out for:

  • Narrative errors/jumps in flow/anything that doesn’t make sense
  • Random noises
  • Bad/obvious cuts
  • Distracting noises or buzz
  • Unnecessary content — is your podcast too long? Maybe. An outside perspective can help point out parts of your podcast that may be unnecessary or even distracting.
  • Over-editing — this is when you’ve removed so many natural pauses or parts of speech that the voices sound clipped, automated and robotic.

Ask your listeners to note any issues in a copy of this spreadsheet. Ask them to fill in one row per edit. When they are done, you can go through each edit and noting whether or not you’ve made the changes in the ‘Done’ column. Some of their edits will be a matter of taste, others will be necessary. The important thing is that the podcast works as a whole. If people find a section confusing or a diversion, you should consider cutting it out. Listen to how it sounds without that content, does it make sense? Does your podcast stick to your original plan and aims? If a section needs cutting out, but you think there is useful information in it, consider creating a different podcast to add that section to.

Once you have made the edits you want to make, it’s time for the podcast to go to Quality Assurance (QA). Make sure you send the podcast, transcript and the edits spreadsheet to QA, in case there’s anything they spot too. Add ‘QA’ to the ‘People’ tab of the edits spreadsheet.

QA a podcast

When a podcast needs to be QA-ed it will come to the QA process along with an edits sheet. The podcast will already have been through one round of edits, and you will be able to see the edit history in the spreadsheet that accompanies the podcast. If you don’t get a spreadsheet, get in touch with the podcast owner. There shouldn’t be many changes to be made at this stage, however, it is possible that errors have been missed. Here are the things to listen out for.

  • Accessibility check: Is there a transcript?
  • Listen all the way through.
  • Does the audio sound clear? Are there audible and off-putting background noises?
  • Do the voices sound over-edited? Listen out for audio that sounds clipped, or that makes the speaker sound robotic.
  • Listen out for long pauses that break up the flow
  • Is there music? Does it fit well with the conversation? Is it the same volume, or lower? Can you hear the words over it?
  • Note any issues in a copy of this spreadsheet. Make sure you fill each column in.

Ready to share checklist

  • Is it exported to mp3 correctly? Are all tracks audible?
  • Is there a transcript?
  • Have you included all the relevant links in the show notes?
  • Have you sent a copy to eLearning so it can be uploaded to escholar and Soundcloud?

Podcast process

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