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Five podcasting tips from a couple of novices

27 October 2020

Producing a podcast might seem like a daunting prospect but rest assured it is simpler than it seems and, in all honesty, can be really fun. All you need is a willingness to try something new, a bit of determination, and if possible a willing podcast partner (or partners) that will become your dream team for producing something you can be truly proud of.

As complete podcast novices, we have been able to resurrect the CharityComms podcast during lockdown with a new look and feel that we felt was right for our audiences during these challenging times. As a team of two we have completely self-taught ourselves in the process from start to finish and learnt to adapt and work with the tools that we have available to us while working remotely.

Here are our five of our tips, based on what we’ve learnt so far along the way, which we hope will help any of you out there keen to give podcasting a go for yourselves:

  1. Get some training
    We can all do with a helping hand and as you know team CC are big believers in the importance of training. There are lots of training opportunities out there both paid and free so don’t let budget hold you back. CC’s host Lauren managed to secure a paid for place on a course run by Ravensbourne University where the content was adapted to incorporate tips for recording remotely given current circumstances but there is free stuff out there to. Try joining a Facebook community for example where people freely share their tips, or seek out YouTube videos of fellow podcasters talking you through the process – that’s what CC’s producer Christine did.

    Top tip: Join the ‘Podcaster Support Group’ ran by The Allusionist podcast host, Helen Austwick Zaltzman. It’s a great forum to ask any question no matter how big or small and get quick responses.

  2. Think about purpose, theme and audience
    Three things it’s super important to have before you start going out and talking to guests, recording, etc are; a clear purpose (why), a contained audience (who) and desired outcomes (what and how). Make sure you know why you want to make this podcast as that will help give focus e.g. is it spotlight voices in your community? is it a way to redistribute your existing content in new ways? Are you trying to promote your organisations profile?  Ensure you have your audience front and centre in your mind as your podcast will only be a success if it provides what your audience is looking for. And always be clear about what you want to get out of the podcast, your end result is what will serve as a focal point for judging if it is a success or not.
  3. Pick your guests wisely and do the prep
    A podcast is rarely ever about just one person so really thinking about your guests and how you can get the most out of them is vital. Picking guests that align with your charities values and finding those personal connections that will allow them to share their stories and passions with you in a way that works for them is a great starting point. But you also have to help your guests with the process too by doing your research and making sure they have the right opportunities to share their own unique insights with you and your listeners.
  4. Record on multiple devices
    When you are ready to record make sure you capture the sound on multiple devices. One big thing we learnt from creating a podcast remotely is that tech can be unreliable, and sound can drop out, so it is always a good idea to have a backup recording. We record our interviews on Zoom, but we also ask our presenter and our guests to make a voice note of the call too. This means we have multiple sound files to fall back on and help fill in any gaps that may occur if our primary recording source fails to pick any sound up or fails completely.
  5. Spend time separating tracks and adjusting sound levels
    If you are self-editing using a programme like audition or audacity there are a couple of things that will ultimately save you time and stress in the long run. The first thing is to make sure you use separate track lines for each speaker and added sound. Using multiple track lines means that as you cut up and reconfigure your sound you are able to find the sections you want to edit and adjust much more easily than if you had kept it all on one track. The second thing is to take the time to adjust your volume levels. This is because people talk at different volumes, sometimes sound gets muffled and hard to hear and also you may want to use music overlays at the same time as someone is speaking. Adjusting the volume lines on each track and in each segment containing questions and answers so that they are even will make it much easier for your listener as they won’t have to keep readjusting the sound for themselves.

As we said at the beginning the podcast team at CharityComms are complete novices but hopefully, the fact that we can do it will give you the confidence to try it too. These are just five of our tips but we did actually come up with ten for the recent Scotland Networking group and a recording of the rest is available on-demand here.

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Image: James McKinven on Unsplash

Christine Fleming

Head of digital content, CharityComms

Christine is the head of digital content at CharityComms in charge of the commissioning and editing of all content on the site as well as leading on the project management of the new look best practice guides. A former journalist with a background in online news, she has a masters in Global Media and Transnational Communications and is passionate about comms and helping charity communications thrive.

Lauren Haizel-Cobbina

Events and membership assistant, CharityComms