This is a follow-up to my previous post on getting started with podcasting, reflecting on things I’ve learned since that post about six months ago. Hope this help somebody else out.
First, a lot of online discussion about podcasts focuses on microphones and editing software. Both of which are foundational in that you can’t make a podcast without a mic and something to process the audio. Granted.
But they are table stakes and not what sets a great podcast apart from one that’s not quite there. Don’t get me wrong, you need to get your audio quality up to where it’s listenable, though what that means will depend on your audience. Table stakes. Not something to obsess about.
Talking about, worrying about, and purchasing gear does serve as the perfect procrastination technique: You’re not wasting time not working on your podcast: You’re improving the podcast.
Flying solo and recording with a co-host are utterly different experiences.
When recording with a co-host, you’re having a conversation with a human and trying to be mindful enough of mic technique that you get it captured with good quality. It’s a natural act with a bit of added cognitive load to keep the mics in mind.
Recording alone on the other hand is a profoundly unnatural act. Being alone in a room and talking into a microphone is like nothing else. It takes a lot of practice to get comfortable being a lunatic who talks at an empty room.
Which brings us to the main point: A podcast is a performance. Whether you’re talking alone or with other humans, you are on a virtual stage and you are performing.
Content is king, but no matter how good the content, if it’s presented poorly nobody wants to hear it.
Everybody has had the experience, whether in school or at a seminar, of having to sit through somebody droning and sputtering their way through a presentation.
It’s pain. And nobody is going to voluntarily expose themselves to that kind pain when there are literally half a million other options out there.
For me, personally, I tend to have a flat affect, especially when standing in an empty room talking to a wall, so I try to be conscious of that and really amp things up.
Yes, it feels ridiculous at first, hamming it up like a British character actor in a B-grade Hollywood movie, but it gets easier.
Finally, editing is part of the performance.
All I’m personally trying to accomplish when editing is to have the monologue or conversation flow naturally, which means taking out false starts, garbled words, long pauses, and of course the dreaded mouth sounds.
Yech, mouth sounds. The worst.
It takes me about three times the length of the recording to do a pass. But that time is getting shorter, both from getting practice at editing itself, learning to read the wave forms better, and from getting comfortable while recording, so the recordings are cleaner.
Practice, practice, practice.
The Internet tells Nic to install Ubiquiti gear in his house, so he does, and now he has thoughts.
What I wish I’d known when I started podcasting.
Nic starts a new podcast about—gasp!—American sports.
Mostly excellent non-fiction in this installment. Includes Fantasyland, The Miracle of Dunkirk, Das Reich, The Undoing Project, Waiting for the Punch, Vacationland and Points of Impact.
Nic reports his experiences so far with voice computing from Amazon and Google and is a bit mystified at the reaction to Apple’s HomePod.
After a few weeks of using iPhone X I’m ready to join the congratulatory choir.