Silence in Audacity waveform

The late Steve Jobs once declared podcasting or “new media” to be “amateur hour” (iPod announcements, September 1, 2010). This was taken as both an insult and yet had some truth.

Many podcasters don’t sound professional

But “professionalism” is based on many things:

  • audio quality,
  • content quality,
  • consistency,
  • presentation,
  • experience,
  • and more.

Regardless of what audio equipment you use, how you speak can gain or lose listeners for your podcast. Sounding “dumb” comes down to two typical errors many intelligent people make:

  1. using filler works (like, um, uh, ya know, etc.), and
  2. speaking slowly.

Thankfully, both of these can be easy to fix in Audacity!

Fix yourself before fixing your podcast

[poll id=”2″]

Editing can be a pain. Don’t rely on fixing every mistake in post-production (“post”). Try hard to improve how you speak so that you won’t have to fix anything.

Or recognize what is an acceptable number of mistakes to skip.

Audio-editing isn’t about making you perfect, it’s about improving the listening experience. Sometimes, our glitches, fumbles, and filler words are part of an authentic experience. But too much of any of these, and you’ll turn off your listeners and they’ll turn off your podcast.

Listen to yourself to recognize your speaking mistakes, and then try to improve. But even when you’re comfortable, there are still things that can help editing yourself, or your guest or cohost.

If problems stand out to you, keep a notepad handy or have a way to mark your recordings so you can log the time of any corrections that you need to make.

Remove filler words/verbal crutches

“Um,” “uh,” “like,” “ya know,” and many other verbal crutches slip into our speech all the time. Some of these are so tight in our conversation that removing it would be like pulling our a bone from your arm.

So let’s only consider removing the filler words that stand out and are isolated, such as “I went to the … um … store.”

In Audacity or any other sound editor, simply drag your mouse over this section and press delete. You may have to include other tracks in your selection so as to not offset a multitrack project.

Selecting the “um” and crossing into another track

After editing these, you’ll start to recognize their shape in your waveform and can spot them more easily.

Truncate silence

Hi Daniel,

First, your episodes have been great and I look forward to a new one every Tuesday. I have learned much from you that I can pass on to faculty I support in lecture capture and coursecasting (“podcasting lectures”)

In some of your past episodes you have mentioned the issue of “ums” and “ahs”. Ray Ortega has also discussed dealing with “ums” and “ahs” in some of his episodes. The recommendation from both of you of practicing “silence” when gathering thoughts for both has been very helpful as I do a podcast series related to other consulting for an elearning company. But I did find editing the silent spots out was a little tedious until I discovered “Truncate Silence” in Audacity, which really shortened post production editing.

I went back to your very first episode and you mentioned you would eventually tell us how to deal with the quiet spots. Were you planning on talking about “truncating silence” as an Audacity tip anytime soon?

I see the new Adobe Audition for Mac (beta) has a “Delete Silence” function but considering the cost of Audition (7 times that of Soundboard 2.0 [discontinued]), I’ll stay with Audacity along with your “secret sauce for dynamic compression”.

I also found your suggestion to save as a WAV file and use iTunes to encode to MP3 to be real helpful. I was having problems with some my episodes playing in a browser that were encoded with the LAME MP3 encoder. Once I started encoding in iTunes with the Fraunhoffer encoder, the problems disappeared. You can find my current podcast at http://connections.blackboard.com/resources/f03d010b71/summary

Cheers,

Bob

Audacity has a wonderful tool included in the Effect menu that can help you sound smarter by shortening the silence between words.

Truncate silence works by finding all “silence” (defined as any audio under a threshold) that is longer than the minimum amount and compressing it by a factor.

If you pause a lot while speaking, this can reduce or remove those pauses.

Top track is as recorded, bottom track was truncated with min. and max. set to 200 ms

Keep some things in mind.

  • Don’t apply this on faded audio.
  • Select all of your vocal tracks to process at the same time to avoid offset audio.
  • Test before publishing.

Don’t overdo perfection

These tools are to enhance your audio to make it easier for you and your listeners. Don’t let yourself spend hours removing every single verbal crutch.

Also recognize that sometimes, solid silence is powerful.

So it really comes down to controlling your own words rather than relying on the ability to fix them later.

What do you do to sound “smarter” in your podcast? Please share by commenting on the shownotes!

Upcoming: privacy policies

You may not realize that you need a privacy policy or what it should contain. Or maybe you already have one and would like to share yours as an example.

An upcoming episode of The Audacity to Podcast™ will discuss privacy policies: why you need them and what they should cover.

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Disclosure

This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

29 comments on How to Use Truncate Silence and Sound Smarter with Audacity – TAP070

  1. Caitlin says:

    I love how your podcasts sound.  What levels do you set to get this type of sound quality?

    1. It’s a combination of a good mic, learned mic presence and technique, and a software compressor.

      Also look back at my podcast episodes about improving audio and using compressors.

  2. Keeper Dan says:

    This was an ideal episode for me, as I’m just starting out on a podcast. We’re on episode 2 now, and editing takes me a long time. I’ve already seen my own verbal issues, and will work on them. We have three of us on the show via Skype, so we do get those awkward pauses that the truncate feature should help me with.
    Thanks for the info!

    1. Awesome! Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Tony Lee says:

    Hello, I went ahead and listened to your podcast! and completely agreed with you. Thank you so much for those tips and information! 

    1. You’re welcome! And thank you for listening!

  4. Oh my! I totally say – you know and so too much!

  5. Spencer says:

    Hey Daniel, this is a good episode for me. I just started podcasting and I can’t stand how unprofessional I sound sometimes. My goal is to improve my live presentation skills,  I want my show to sound professional and natural at the same time. So I totally agree with fixing yourself first. As podcasters (seeking passive income) we need to be professionally sounding as possible.

    1. Thanks for listening, Spencer! How are you hoping to turn your podcasting into passive income?

      1. Spencer says:

        Good question. I’m still thinking about that, affiliates links is a possibility, and my own video and ebook products. Do you have any suggestions?

  6. jasonvandehey says:

    Good information. My only feedback: I think that you repeated everything 3 times, and then 3 times again. But you’re driving home the point so I won’t forget it. 🙂
    Is there a filter for removing a guest repeating double-words? i.e. repeating words twice as they’re thinking of what to say next. Thanks!

    1. Yes, I make sure to drive home the points to make them memorable.

      Ha ha, no, there isn’t a filter for removing that kind of stuff. You either have to leave it in or manually edit it.

      1. jasonvandehey says:

        Hey Daniel, do you ever review podcast episodes to give feedback on things that you hear?

        1. I do offer that as a paid consulting service, but I haven’t incorporated something like that as part of my podcast.

  7. Wargaming Recon says:

    Another great show. You have many tips and hints that are must have. I was hoping to try the Truncate Silence effect but ran into some trouble. Maybe it is me but I can’t seem to find Trucate Silence in my version of Audacity under the Effects menu. I’m using 1.2.5. Any thoughts on how to best obtain the Truncate Silence effect?

    1. Upgrade to Audacity 2.0.1. Your version is very old and missing a lot of great things.

    2. Upgrade to Audacity 2.0.1. Your version is very old and missing a lot of great things.

      1. Wargaming Recon says:

        Haha. I’m such a goon. After listening to one of your previous episodes I thought “I need to upgrade to 2.0.1” and for some reason had deluded myself into believing I performed the upgrade. Just goes to show me that I shouldn’t do anything important, like search in Audacity and communicate online, without sufficient sleep. 🙁 I’m really sorry about that.

        1. Ha ha. No problem. Comedy is often great without sufficient sleep. 🙂

        2. Ha ha. No problem. Comedy is often great without sufficient sleep. 🙂

      2. Wargaming Recon says:

        Haha. I’m such a goon. After listening to one of your previous episodes I thought “I need to upgrade to 2.0.1” and for some reason had deluded myself into believing I performed the upgrade. Just goes to show me that I shouldn’t do anything important, like search in Audacity and communicate online, without sufficient sleep. 🙁 I’m really sorry about that.

  8. Rob says:

    Is there a way to create silence that is exactly the same duration between every spoken utterance? e.g 2 seconds exactly

    1. If a longer silence, like 2.1 or more seconds, is already recorded into your audio, then you can use Truncate Silence to shorten everything longer than 2 seconds down to exactly two seconds.

      Set your min and max silences to 2000 ms and compression to 1:1. You may have to play with the threshold to find the right level for your background noise.

  9. Hugo says:

    First I would like to say thanks for the tips. I already use this feature but Is it possible to import this feature (like when you copy the dll of vsti/plugin)???

    1. Import this feature to what? It’s already in Audacity.

  10. John Stalvern says:

    “Don’t overdue perfection”
    Surprised that an article about correcting mistakes would have such a glaring mistake in it.

    1. Ha ha! Maybe I had a library book overdue at that time. Thanks for the correction to my podcast shownotes.

    2. Valentine Stockdale says:

      It’s so bad mannered of you that after this guy spent so much time trying to help us, that you attempt to condescend to him by picking up on something like that. Why can’t you just say thank you?

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