Recording high-quality podcasts isn’t something that just happens.
It takes preparation, both on the content side and on the audio setup side.
As a podcast host myself, and someone who has helped over 30 business owners start and produce their own podcasts through our Podcast Launch Services, I’ve seen that effective podcast prep boils down to two things:
- What you’re going to record.
- How you’re going to record it.
This article is all about how to make sure you’re covered in both of these areas so you can create the best possible content every time you record.
Want everything we cover in this article in an easy to use checklist format?
Preparing What You’re Going To Record
The first thing you need to do is figure out your content.
What’s crucial here is approaching your podcast with the mindset of being a champion for your audience. Whatever you’re going to record, it has to be with your listeners’ best interest at heart.
Would they benefit from hearing how to avoid common mistakes entrepreneurs tend to make? Advice for shifting their thoughts around food and weight loss? What to look for when investing in real estate?
Whether it’s an interview or a teaching episode that features you doing a deep dive into a subject, you have to know what your audience whats to know and needs to hear. That is the key to knowing your content.
But keep in mind that there is such a thing as overplanning what you’re going to say.
A lot of people make the mistake of scripting their episodes or listing out every question for their guests in an effort to figure out exactly what’s going to be said in the episode.
I don’t advise this approach.
This kind of overplanning will make your podcast seem scripted and rigid, and it takes away from the conversational feel you want to have.
A better approach is to list 3-5 bullet points of what you want to cover in the episode. This works for both solo shows and interviews.
Any subject you want to cover on your own should be one that you can speak freely about based on a bullet point reminder, and whatever nuggets of wisdom you want to uncover in an interview can be added to your list, as well.
For solo shows, you can make a note of the main ideas you want to cover or any experiences or situations that you want to use as educational stories within the podcast.
These can be real stories of clients or customers of yours, parables intended to help listeners better understand a scenario, or questions that have been submitted to you.
For interviews, make a list of the wisdom you want to uncover from your guests that your audience is itching to hear.
Then, instead of having pre-scripted questions that can feel forced and interrupt the natural flow of conversation, you can gently guide your guest toward the subjects in each of your bullet points.
Pro Tip: Interviews, in particular, are where it’s crucial to advocate for your audience.
If you get a response that feels inadequate or doesn’t quite deliver what you know your audience wants to know more about, ask more questions to dig deeper.
You want to be the person who’s able to uncover the most useful information for your listenership. Keep at it until you feel like you’ve revealed enough that is valuable in its own right as a piece of content for a podcast episode before you move on.
Preparing How You’re Going To Record
Before you hit that red button, take a look at your recording setup.
You want to anticipate potential hiccups before they can impact your audio. Here are some things to consider:
1. Is your microphone positioned appropriately?
This all depends on what kind of microphone you have, but typically, you want to be 2-3 inches from the mic and talking past it.
Ideally, you’ll also want a pop filter. If you don’t have one, make sure your microphone is pointed slightly away from your mouth to avoid sound spikes as much as possible.
2. Are your audio levels where they’re supposed to be?
Within your recording software, take a moment to check your audio levels.
When you speak, you want to be between 5 and 7 decibels, or at the top of the green and yellow area, but avoiding the red zone.
When you’re silent, your audio levels should be completely flat.
3. Is the room ideal for recording?
The space you’re using to record can make all the difference when it comes to audio quality.
You want to choose a room that doesn’t have a heavy echo or allow in a lot of background noise. If it’s not possible to avoid these things, there are steps you can take to minimize them.
For example, bringing a mattress or lounge into the room can help deaden sound and eliminate echoes or the dreaded “far away” sound.
You can also bring in curtains or pillows to help. Putting a few pillows around and/or behind the microphone can make a world of difference!
4. Are you likely to be interrupted?
The last thing you want when you’re in the middle of recording is to be interrupted.
Double check that you’ve turned off or muted your cell phone and desktop notifications, and don’t forget to ask guests to do the same.
If you have children or pets, make sure they are occupied and won’t need anything from you during the time you’re recording.
And, of course, you want to make sure you have everything you need so you’re not the cause of the pause. That means your notes are nearby, you have a glass of water handy in case your voice starts to get scratchy, etc.
Pro Tip: For a handier, more comprehensive list that you can print out for your desk, download my free pre-recording checklist.
Run through it for yourself and with any co-hosts or guests prior to recording a podcast episode to ensure production quality audio every time.
Once you’ve covered your bases with your podcast prep, it’s time to hit record and start producing that great content.
For more tips on hosting a podcast and getting your recording setup right, check out our other articles, “How To Be An Amazing Podcast Host: 5 Tips To Turn Listeners Into Clients” and “The Perfect Podcast Equipment For Any Situation.”
And if you have more suggestions for pre-recording podcast preparations, add them in the comments below.
Ben Krueger is the founder of Cashflow Podcasting and he specializes in helping thought leaders and entrepreneurs amplify their impact through podcasting. He’s a world traveller, outdoor sports junkie and future enthusiast!