Podcasting “preflight” checklist – TAP164

Podcasting tasks before pressing record preflight checklist

Before you press record, make sure you’ve checked these 20 things to ensure a quality podcast.


Download this as a checklist

1. Turn on all equipment

As basic as this is, it’s important to do early in your process. Some equipment takes time to either warm up or cool down from being turned on. CFLs, for example, take about fifteen minutes to come to full brightness and correct color temperature. Your computer may have to finish launching all startup programs and then settle down the CPU.

  • Lights
  • Cameras
  • Mixer
  • Audio processor
  • Microphones
  • Recorders
  • Computers
  • Other devices

2. Verify equipment settings

You don’t have to double-check every setting, but do glance over the most-adjusted settings.

  • Battery levels
  • Available storage space
  • Volume levels
  • Mix-minus configuration
  • Muted and unmuted tracks
  • Connected cables
  • Inputs and outputs on all devices
  • Camera focus

3. Place recorder(s) in standby

If your recording app or device has a standby mode just before it starts recording, activate this early. Then, you’ll see this frequently as your progress through your checklist and can always be sure it’s ready.

4. Load necessary programs

Have every program you need or think you may need open and ready. This will prevent awkward or edit points where you have to wait for something to launch.

  • Soundboard
  • Skype or other calling software
  • Recorder
  • Live-streaming software
  • Chat room
  • Show notes
  • Web browser

5. Turn off home noise-makers

It’s always best to prevent noise before you record instead of removing it afterward. Turn off or silence these things and you’ll get a cleaner recording.

  • Heater
  • Air conditioner
  • Fans
  • Dishwasher
  • Humidifier
  • Music or TV
  • Noisy furniture
  • Your mouse or scrollwheel (consider using the touchpad)
  • Other appliances

6. Take care of pets

Pets can be unpredictable distractions and mess up a good recording. Make wise decisions about your pets and you’ll have less stuff to fix in your recordings.

  • Take away noisy toys
  • Remove noisy collar
  • Pen away from studio or ensure control in studio

7. Occupy your children with something

Let’s be honest. Children are a blessing, but sometimes those bundles of joy can make some tasks more difficult. Be a good parent with your kids and come up with fun, creative solutions so they’ll be onboard with helping you.

  • Put away noisy toys
  • Encourage quiet activities (especially consider fun things that are only for when you record)
  • Record during naps or after bed time

8. Close doors and windows

You can’t control the sound outside your home. But it’s likely that most outdoor noises won’t make it into your recording through closed doors or windows.

Yes, sometimes you may just need to wait until your neighbor stops mowing because that’s too loud.

If you record video, you may also need to close blinds.

9. Prepare your space

A clutter-free workspace will actually help you focus more, but how your arrange the items around you may also assist in your production quality.

  • Clear your desk
  • Check video background
  • Position props or equipment
  • Arrange windows on your monitor(s) or tablet

10. Turn off GSM phones or place in “airplane mode”

Some phones will create rhythmic interference noises, or just cause general sound problems. Turn these off or put them in “airplane mode” to reduce that chance of interruptions.

11. Switch mobile devices to “do not disturb” (DND)

If your phone must stay on, or you have other mobile devices, DND mode will ensure that they don’t beep or vibrate during your session.

12. Silence computer sounds

Check for any sound your computer may make and turn it off.

  • Notifications
  • Interactions
  • Warnings

13. Shut down unnecessary programs

Your computer’s resources are a valuable commodity. Make sure that only the programs you need running are loaded. Especially check for updaters, synchronizers, backups, virus scans, and RAM- or CPU-intensive apps.

14. Care for your body

Your voice is your “money-maker” in podcasting, so keep it healthy, but don’t forget the rest of your body!

  • Use the restroom (and encourage others in your house to do the same)
  • Drink a full glass of room-temperature water
  • Pour another glass of room-temperature water
  • Clear your throat and sinuses
  • Put on lip balm (but choose the kind that doesn’t dry your lips)
  • Adjust your clothing
  • Fix your hair
  • Retouch makeup
  • Wipe your face
  • Try some mouth exercises

15. Review your notes

No matter how simple or complex your notes, another review will help keep you focused, give you new ideas, and aid your transitions.

  • How will you open?
  • Do you know what you want to share?
  • How will you close?

16. Prepare resources

Podcasting often feels like being a film producer and director. Ensure all your resources are at your command.

  • Queue audio or video clips
  • Skip ads in multimedia
  • Load web pages you’ll need
  • Open feedback messages
  • Embed or update your live player

17. Test everything

Even if you’d done this hundreds of times, still test everything before you record. This will ensure you don’t lose an episode or have a mysterious problem creep into your podcast.

18. Start recording

This should be the last step before you start speaking, so you’ll always know it’s the signal to go. You don’t have to start all recorders at the exact same moment, but at least have a synchronization point—like a clap—for aligning everything.

  • Video camera
  • External audio recorder
  • Live-streaming software
  • Software recorders
  • Cohosts’ devices

19. Break the ice

With the recorder running, have some small talk with your guest, your chat room, or even yourself. This can help calm the nerves. Sometimes, you may even discover a gold nugget in this preshow content.

20. Present!

If you use a timer, start it the moment you start your podcast so it tracks your talk time, not just recording time.

With everything in place, you’re ready to record!

Download a FREE printable checklist

What else do you have to check? Please comment in the show notes.

Episode 165 will discuss the bigger picture of your podcasting workflow.

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  • ohbeep

    Number 7…unfortunately I’m occupying them by having them host the podcast…what are your tips for getting them to focus?

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Sometimes, giving them a soft, silent plush toy can help them focus by having something for their fingers to do.

  • KenBurgin

    Excellent list – thanks Daniel!

  • Terry Jachimiak II

    Wonderful list. Each of your podcasts are helping me as I develop my first two podcasts. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Wonderful! In all your developing, don’t forget to start! :)

      • Terry Jachimiak II

        Completely agree. I have actually done my first two episodes for my first two podcasts. Took me a while, but after listening to you and a couple others, I knew it was time to finally take the plunge.

  • http://www.jdsutter.me/ JD Sutter

    Great list. Especially number 12. It is so annoying to me as a listener when I heard system sounds from the computer in a podcast.

    I also really hate hearing a dog barking in the background.

  • Stephen Gulick

    Probably doesn’t matter because they should be turned off anyway, but Sprint is CDMA not GSM. ATT and T-mobile are GSM. Verizon is CDMA as well. Phone geek going back to listening. Great list though.

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  • http://www.slamsessionshow.com/ Slam Anderson

    Daniel, you have some amazingly great insight into podcasting. When I set out to start a podcast, I had no idea all the little details needed to do it right. I’ve been glued to your site and podcasts for a week now learning as much as possible prior to launch. Thanks for the hard work.

    • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis

      Thank you and you’re welcome! What will your podcast be about and when do you plan to launch?

      • http://www.slamsessionshow.com/ Slam Anderson

        I am aiming for a July 1st launch. It’s called Slam Session : A Geek’s Guide to God, the Galaxy, and Government. In short, being someone who is both a lifelong Christian, and a geek who believes in Science, are rather contradictory. I also tie in how both relate to our political system, freedom, and duty to be involved.

        • http://DanielJLewis.net/about Daniel J. Lewis


          I actually hate the mislabeled debate “science vs. religion” because it implies that they’re mutually exclusive. Our science is commonly affected by our beliefs. So it’s really the science of one “religion” versus the science of another “religion.”

          • http://www.slamsessionshow.com/ Slam Anderson

            Couldn’t agree more. Christians need to be more willing to accept that the same all powerful, all knowing God who works in mysterious ways just very well may use Science to bring about some of His will. At the same time, Scientists who make new discoveries all the time, should be more open to appreciate the possibility of an intelligence at work.