Perfecting the podcast

Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash
Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

With the increasing importance of offering digital media components, more B2B publications are launching podcasts. Here are some tips for getting started with making a podcast. Have any additional thoughts and ideas? Share them with us in the Digital Media discussion group!

Map out a plan: Before starting the recording and podcast editing process, a publication needs to take time to map out what makes the most sense with a podcast. Editorial teams need to consider their potential listener base and what their audiences would want to hear from a content perspective.

First, consider the topic of the podcast. What topics would be most relevant to your audience for a podcast series? How many episodes will the series require?

Second, consider the format of the podcast. Will it be based on Q&A interviews with industry sources, a narrative or something else entirely? How long should episodes be? Will the podcasts be based on content already covered in print or video?

Prepare for recording: Once the series is planned, editorial teams should spend more time planning for each individual episode. If the podcast will be based on interviews, editors need to develop strong questions that aren’t too softball but also not too probing to feature in the recording.

Note that the Q&A-style podcast is certainly easier and perhaps beneficial for inexperienced podcasters and interviewees, but it can be boring if the questions aren’t very engaging. (This is why planning is so important!) A more conversational-style podcast with a few initial questions accented by on-the-fly follow-up questions is more interesting but can be harder to plan for and perhaps not the best for someone’s first podcast experience.

Also consider how many people will be featured on the podcast. Having a variety of people featured can be engaging, but keep in mind that too many voices or sources can be tough for listeners to follow if not planned out well.

Draft a sample script with an introduction and basic details, questions and signoff ahead of time. Having a script will help everything to run smoothly during the actual recording.

It also helps to show interviewees some questions ahead of time so they can provide more thoughtful answers when recording. While this might seem counterintuitive to most journalistic practices, keep in mind that people tend to be very uncomfortable when being recorded via video or audio. It’s unnatural and seldom part of their daily lives. By giving them some questions ahead of time, it can help to relax them when it’s time to record so that things sound more natural, and you get more conversational responses. Or, similarly, have a mock interview with the person ahead of time over the phone or in person if you know they are shy or tense about being recorded.

Get technical: It’s about time to record! But before clicking that button, you really need to test the recording tools at your availability. Do you want to record using a platform such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting? Or, perhaps you have another broadcasting tool at your disposal. Learn the platform you plan to use ahead of the recording date.

Also, consider if you want to use a supplemental microphone. Blue Yeti is one option that some B2B podcasters have used.

Then, for the post-production process, consider the editing software you will be using. Audacity is a free tool offered to edit audio files.

Also consider staging a mock podcast with a colleague to make sure everything works.

Recording day: It’s time to record! Know that it’s OK if mistakes are made—you can edit the errors afterward. Make sure any interviewees involved also are comfortable. If you’re taking a Q&A-approach, consider asking the interviewee(s) lighthearted questions before clicking record to help them feel comfortable.

Post-production process: Review the completed recording for sound quality, and where possible, remove verbal hiccups and audio glitches. Follow regular posting procedures for websites as well as services such as Spotify, Google Play and iTunes. Then, promote the podcast with a brief, album-cover-style description on your publication’s website and social media pages.

After promoting the podcast, check web metrics to track whether it is performing well. Check this regularly for each podcast your team posts to see what topics seem to get the most engagement.

Jim Montague is executive editor at Control, Control Design and Industrial Networking magazines based in Schaumburg, Illinois. He also serves as ASBPE’s Chicago Chapter president.

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