When producing a web video, it is often said that the audio quality is more important than picture quality. If that is true, what happens when all you have is audio? Well, it is all you have, and it is even more important.
Although content is also a huge variable, audio quality plays a significant part in the audience reception of a podcast. I mean, if a person has committed to listening to you for thirty minutes or more, they deserve to enjoy the experience. They need to enjoy the experience. Your podcast should be pleasant and easy to listen to. This will inspire the audience to keep coming back. Here are several tips on how to make your podcast recordings entertaining, clean and comfortable to listen to.
Invest in a Good Microphone
This is a worthwhile investment for anyone planning on doing podcasting regularly and professionally. I have talked extensively on why you should not jump on getting the most expensive equipment at first. However, I have always advocated on having a good quality microphone at least. Remember that sound and content is all you have. If your sound is abrasive to the ear, your content doesn’t matter.
Directional microphones are the best option as they block out background sound. Additionally, they will only pick up the sound that is being sent directly into them. A pop filter is also quite helpful. It softens explosive constants such as K, P or T. These explosive plosives can wreck your sound quality and make it unbearable over time.
Settle on a Great Recording Environment
Don’t just record your podcast anywhere you find space. Take time to look for the perfect spot and if possible try to stick to it. A quiet room with no or limited foot traffic is ideal. Big rooms with hardwood floors and tables generate a lot of echo. Echo eliminates the intimate sound preferred for podcasting. A room with echo absorbers such as rugs and curtains would be a great option. If and when you manage to find such a room, stick to it. This will significantly help you avoid kinks in sound quality. It will also help you guarantee a consistent sound quality across episodes.
Perform Articulation Exercises before Recording
Not to heap any more pressure on you, but, recording a podcast is akin to a performance. Even the best and most experienced performers sometimes feel the pressure. Once its go time, simple phrases turn into landmines. Your tongue acts funny, and your mind can’t keep up. Don’t worry; it happens to the best of us.
As with music performance before stepping on stage, practice your oratory skills. Doing several simple diction exercises before recording will relax you and get your muscles working. It will also give you more confidence and get you in the mood.
Use Your Microphone Correctly
It is one thing to have a good microphone and another to make the best use of it. Starting from the relatively obvious. Maintain a consistent distance from your microphone. Many things can be edited in an audio clip. However, it is extremely difficult to edit out the dramatic wavering of volume levels. Therefore, maintain a consistent gap and talk in a conversational tone.
A good microphone will do what it does – it will improve sound quality. Unfortunately, it will also enhance all other sounds reaching it including that radiator at the corner and you slurping on a cup of coffee. Right in the middle of your guest’s best answer, you will have a slurp or audio spikes as you type on your keyboard. What’s the lesson here? Always mute your microphone when you are not talking.
Mind Your Accent
As Aussies, we are often accused of talking really fast and sometimes incoherently. Some slang here and there. Well, if you are reaching an international audience, it will serve you better to try and be as clear as possible. Otherwise, you risk losing your audience mid-episode. Try to talk with a lower pitch, and make sure that you say out each word clearly and at a time.
It is nothing too complicated. Just putting that thought into your brain will ensure that you follow through. You can also make it part of your pre-recording articulation exercises. However, don’t lose yourself trying to be clear, your accent is beautiful and part of your identity.
Don’t Just Read Out a Script
The very nature of podcasting is storytelling. It is conversational. If you are interviewing guests, don’t make it an interrogation. Whenever a guest answers, don’t just say “that’s great” and move on to the next question. Hold a conversation with the guest. Listen to the answers and respond naturally as you would in a conversation.
Having a template is essential. It will help you shape the podcast and ensure that you touch on all areas. However, use it as a guide to the conversation. Remember, it is a conversation. Not a question and answer session. The same applies if you are the only person hosting the show. Please don’t make it a lecture. Have a conversation with your avatar — a naturally flowing conversation. People are more likely to enjoy and be drawn into such a show.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We cannot all have a big radio voice and presence and if we did it would be weird. The genuine “you” will always be better than the radio voice you could put on. Trust me on that. If you have a deep accent, quirky voice or laugh or even a weird sense of humour, do you. On a primal level, authenticity and vulnerability build trust as it indicates transparency with your audience.
Therefore, relax, breathe, be yourself and enjoy having an intimate conversation with your audience.