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Throughout this episode, I'll liken podcasting to piano performance. (The Real Brian would be proud!)
As the proverb goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” My worst episodes have always been when I didn't spend enough time preparing.
Don't only prepare what you want to say, but how you want to say it and how you want to transition between things. This will significantly reduce how much you'll have to fix and speed up your podcast-editing.
You don't have to script your podcast. But I have found that “scripting” is a great way to prepare the content and presentation, even if I don't read from that script.
(Here's the iPad teleprompter and PromptSmart Pro app I use for my video shoots.)
This is like learning the music a pianist is going to perform. They don't have it perfect, yet, but they're still preparing the finer details.For fewer podcasting mistakes, prepare more!Click To Tweet
After you have prepared the “what” and “how” of your communication, practice it!
There have been several times I threw away an episode I had just recorded because I thought I didn't communicate well. Then, when I rerecorded it, the episode was far better. Why? Because that first recording was essentially a “dress rehearsal.”
But you don't have to practice an entire episode. Sometimes, concert pianists will practice only small sections over and over until they play it perfectly every time.
Practicing doesn't even have to be out loud. You might simple review your notes and remind yourself how you'll be transitioning or specific things you want to say.
3. Slow down
There's nothing wrong with going fast. But as with driving, it's easier to crash when you're going faster. Sometimes, you may simply need to slow down so you don't stumble over your words or start adding filler words.
If necessary, pause completely. It's far easier to edit out long silences (or short, if you used your recorder's pausing feature) than to edit out bad content.
Slowing down isn't only for your presentation. You may also need to slow down with everything else around your podcast.
Are you rushing your preparation? Are you in too much of a hurry to publish an episode that you forget important things?
There are times to be fast and times to be slow. Like the performing pianist, you may simply need to slow down on the difficult parts.
Reviewing is something you can do both before and after you record your episodes. Reviewing beforehand is a form of practice. Reviewing afterward is a form of quality control.
I'm not necessarily recommending that you relisten or rewatch your complete episode looking for things that need to be fixed. But reviewing can be a good way of finding those big distractions or things you might have forgotten to edit because you were so focused on the smaller details.
Reviewing could take only a few minutes to jump around to particular spots or double- and triple-check the common areas where you struggle.
Overcast is a my favorite podcast app for iOS. If you support the app as a patron, then you can unlock an “uploads” feature. This is perfect for listening to your draft MP3 through your podcast app.
5. Fix as appropriate
Sometimes, a mistake makes it way through and you have a few choices. You could either continue without acknowledging the mistake, like a good piano performer would do. Or, you could correct the mistake in the moment, like a communicator should usually do. Or, you could takedown the mistake altogether (and perhaps force a redownload of the fixed version).
Listen to “How to Fix a Podcast Mistake” for some practical and technical tips on what to do when something goes wrong with your podcast.
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Hi Daniel. I’m a fellow podcaster from Puerto Rico.
I know that what I’m about to say might go against what most podcasters do, but it has worked for me for 196 shows and counting.
I record straight into GarageBand and I edit my show as I go. If I mess something up I simply stop, fix it and proceed. Of course, this doesn’t work when I record interviews. Those I record on a portable recorder and clean up after the fact.
The thing is that most of the times I finish my show, render it as an AIFF and convert it to MP3 in iTunes. No editing! Why? Because I clean it up as I go along. That way, when I say the last word it’s done. And, in case you are wondering, I have never lost a show.
Some people argue that you should use a portable recorder because computers can fail. Well, guess what? Recorders can fail as well. I have several TASCAMs around but I use them for interviews and for video production.
My show is Hablando De Tecnología con Orlando Mergal (yes, it’s in Spanish), which translates into Talking Tech with Orlando Mergal and the URL is http://www.hablandodetecnologia.com.
Thanks for the comment, Orlando!
How long does that workflow make it take for a typical episode? And how long does the episode end up being?
My episodes are usually between an hour and an hour and a half. It takes me about an hour more to record them. So an hour show will take around two hours and a 90 minute show will take about two hours and a half.
I always prepare a rundown (which is a fancy radio term for an outline) beforehand. I only stop when I stumble over my words, when I say something that’s blatantly wrong or when I lose my train of thought.
I find that the key to a show that flows with ease is preparation.
I generally do two types of programs: solo and interviews. When it’s a solo show it’s generally about the latest technology news or about a specific subject. In either case I read through the news that I’m going to discuss, write my comments and thoughts along the margins and then bring it all into my rundown. If it’s about a particular subject I research it first, select the points that I wish to discuss with my audience and bring it all down to my rundown.
Finally, when it’s an interview I research the subject and prepare a list of questions. However, when the day comes I just have a conversation with my interviewee. I never read my questions verbatim.
Prep work for a typical program usually takes about 4-6 hours.
“I find that the key to a show that flows with ease is preparation.” That’s really the key. I believe most mistakes can be avoided with enough preparation, and the presentation and content will be much better for it!
Thanks for sharing your experience!
Orlando, I have done similar things when recording audio books. Stop when I make a mistake, go back, and rerecord. But I think what has helped me to it successfully is that I have a producer/engineer who can handle that for me.
I do something similar now with podcasts, although I simply start over, leaving the bad takes, and remove them in the edit. Because my podcast isn’t scripted, I’ve found this to be helpful for keeping the feel and focus going.
My podcast isn’t scripted but I do use a rundown (outline) to keep my ducks in a row. Don’t you?
Absolutely. Would get off track and miss a lot without a good outline.
When I first started doing solo episodes (was working with a co-host previously), I did a few scripted episodes, but I’m not skilled enough at reading (or maybe writing) and it didn’t sound natural.
Brilliant. Love the simplicity of this. Way too many podcasters try to make their podcasts better by ADDING something when they’d be better off by focusing on the fundamentals.