Like any good examination of a witness, it take some preparation to prepare for your episodes. There is no right answer on how to do this because every podcast is different. However, if there was a common thread among good podcasts is that they follow a structure with pre-defined topics and perimeters on how far each topic will go.
For example, you may wish to map out what topics you intend to cover, how much time on each, and some research points on each topic relevant to the guest to stoke conversation. Here is a sample structure from one of our guests (President of the Criminal Lawyers’ Associate, Michael Lacy): Questions (M.Lacy)
Not only is structure essential for staying on track, but it also makes it easier to maintain consistency across episodes as you can use the same template over and over. As mentioned above, consistency of content, structure, and flow is very important to building a fan base.
As a bonus, here are a few interview tips I have come to learn if you intend to interview guests on your podcast:
Let silence work for you: While it is tempting to try to interject and have quick back and forth with a guest, it is counter productive and distracting to your listeners. Silence can always be removed after the fact; content cannot be added. Humans have a need to fill in uncomfortable silence and your guests will do this if you let them. Get over the awkwardness of silence: ask your question and wait for the answer(s) to come.
Stop saying “uh huh” “sure” “ok” and other annoying punctuations: Until you listen to it back in a recording, you will likely not notice how many times these phrases are used. While they act as normal indicators of active listening in casual conversation, in a podcast they are very distracting. Try to avoid them at all costs.
Keep timestamped notes: Be sure to have a notepad close by. You can make notes on the times of pauses, rephrasing of answers or questions, stutters, background noise, and other corrections you wish to make in editing. Having all these notes will save a lot of time in editing. Even better, if you have someone present during the interview (perhaps checking audio levels) have them take notes for you so you can focus on the conversation. (Tip: when editing, work backwards on your notes so that you do not disrupt the timeline as you are editing.)
Make your guest comfortable: Being interviewed is stressful at the start. The more you can do to relax your guest, the better the conversation will be. Start easy with the questions (even if you don’t use them in the podcast) like “Tell me about where you grew up” or “What is something you love to do outside your profession.” Once the conversation starts to flow and a rapport is established, then you can delve into the more cerebral questions. Also, there is a lot to be said about comfortable chairs, water, coffee, and showing them where the washroom is before you start.
Tell you guest about your structure: People do not like uncertainty and with interviews, this can cause anxiety. The more you can share in advance, the more comfortable your guest will feel and the more they will open up. If they feel like a “gotcha” question is just around the corner, they may be anxious and reserved in their answers. For our podcast, not only do we share the questions in advance to our guests, but we promise not to release the podcast once we have their approval. These two things establish trust, and as a result, excellent and candid answers.
Here is a simple tip: if you don’t like spending several hours playing around with audio, editing, and learning about what compression, normalizing, and .mp3 means conversion – hire someone.
There are many excellent people graduating and in school for sound engineering who love podcasts and would love to be part of yours. Recently we hired someone from Ryerson and it is a lifesaver for time (even though I quite enjoyed editing our podcasts up until episode 20). This is the best money you will spend if you want to have a great sounding podcast and not spend all your time trying to figure out sound engineering. You should expect to pay between $100.00 to $150.00 per episode.
However, if you want to embrace the audiophile in you, there are two or three major platforms to work off of: Adobe’s Audtion ($25.00 a month), Audacity (free), and ProTools ($25.00 a month).
With any of these, you can edit, render, and export your sound files to a sound file you can upload to your podcast host. These programs work well from audio files saved from a recorder, or directly into your computer. Either way, be sure to record in high quality .wav format so that you have maximum flexibility and quality when editing.
It sounds strange, but one of the most perplexing questions in podcasting is “How do I get my podcast on iTunes, Google, and other platforms?”
There are a few ways to do this but each way requires one to sign up for an account for iTunes, Google, and any other platform you wish it published upon.
For Apple, you sign up through iTunesConnect, for Google sign up through Google Play, and so on.
Once you have signed up for each of your platforms you want your podcast file published upon, you must point the platform to your URL or RSS feed. There are a few ways to do this, but the easiest by far is to use intuitive podcasting hosts like LybSyn, Castos (our choice), or many others.
If you use hosting companies like LybSyn and Castos, they each have a website plugins which allows easy integration into your website so that you main source of reference for your fans can be your website. Reputable hosting sites do charge a subscription fee but it is very reasonable ($15.00 to $20.00 a month).
It is important to remember that iTunes and Google do not host uploads of your podcast so this is why you must host it somewhere so they can direct the episodes to your listeners. To put it simply: you upload your final product to your hosting site and iTunes, etc. Google asks you to input the feed (or location) or your podcast. iTunes, Google, etc. then directs your listeners to it through their respective apps and websites.