Sound quality really, really, really matters for your podcast show.
If you want to know how much I believe that to be the case you should go back and listen to Podcastification episode #2 – www.PodcastFastTrack.com/editingmatters
One of the most difficult places to ensure that the sound quality is the best it can be is when you are doing guest interviews or having a conversation with a guest to the show.
When you introduce a person to your show who is not familiar with audio production or sound quality issues – you’ve just introduced a whole slew of variables into your show that can seriously impact the sound quality.
Some of the more common sound quality issues a guest can introduce to your show are:
- They don’t have a good microphone.
- The only microphone they have is a “phone” mic and it keeps rubbing against their shirt.
- They keep bumping the desk the mic is setting on or the microphone itself.
- Dogs, doorbells, cell phones, children, email sounds, etc.
- They don’t speak into the microphone.
- They are too close to the microphone (pops, harsh “S” sounds, and other plosives – yes, that’s what they’re called).
- Their input volume is turned up too much.
Etc., etc., etc.
In this episode I’m going to take just a few moments to run through some of the simplest remedies to most of those problems.
Remedy #1: Prepare your guests
If your guest doesn’t know anything about sound quality and what it takes to get good sound quality in an audio recording, it’s your job as the host to kindly and briefly educate them.
Now I know this is a contested point. I heard one podcaster say just a week or so ago that he doesn’t want to add any additional burden to his busy guest’s schedule by asking them to do anything extra before the recording. I get that – but I disagree.
If the people you’re interviewing care anything about their own brand and image, they will appreciate you helping them sound the very best they can for your audience – which may at least in part, become their audience after your interview.
So what I usually do to prepare my guests is this: I send them a one-page PDF document that outlines some of the issues that I need them to take care of BEFORE we start recording. I know other podcasters who create a page on their website with the same information, to which they point their guests ahead of time.
You can find a copy of my PDF document which you are free to tweak and make your own, in my resource center at www.PodcastFastTrack.com/resources .
But so you don’t have to wait to download it… here’s a quick blast through the document to give you an idea of the kinds of things I include:
FOR MY GUESTS
I can’t thank you enough for being willing to come on my show. I’m confident that your experience and expertise will be of great value to my listeners. I just wanted to give you a quick bullet list of things that you can do to prepare for our conversation. I want you and your brand to be represented in the best possible light, so please read through the list below and make any of the suggested adjustments you are able to make prior to our conversation. Following these suggestions will enable us to make the most of our time.
- Visit the necessary “personal room” before our scheduled time to chat.
- Have a glass of water nearby during our chat… you’ll probably need it.
- If you think you might reference any websites or links, please have them open and ready so you don’t have to hunt for them during the conversation.
- Turn off all non-essential programs on your computer to enable our recording to happen with less potential for technical glitches.
- Please use a wired computer connection (not wireless) if at all possible.
- Find a quiet place for our conversation.
- Make sure all potential noise-makers are turned off or taken care of ahead of time (phones, email, children, pets, etc.)
- While we are doing our interview, please don’t bump the table, scoot things around your desk, click pens, or anything else that might make noise. We want our interview to be as professional sounding as possible.
- Use a microphone other than your built-in computer microphone if at all possible. Even a microphone that is built in to your ear buds is better than your computer microphone.
- Make sure your computer speakers are turned down, or wear headphones or ear buds while we talk. This will help us avoid feedback and electronic echo in the recording.
- We’ll do a quick microphone and sound check before we begin our conversation.
Thanks again for agreeing to chat with me. I’m eager to bring your knowledge and insights to my listening audience!
Remedy #2: Do a pre-recording sound check for audio quality
When you first get on the line with your guest, take time to get to know them in a comfortable way… but then transition to “get er done” mode. Let them know that you need to do a quick quality-check to make sure the audio quality is good. Then do it.
Here are the steps I’d recommend you go through every, single time you do a guest recording.
- Make sure the “record” button has been activated.
- Check your audio level.
- Check your guest’s audio level.
- If you are experiencing drops or glitches on Skype or a Google Hangout – hang-up and reconnect in an attempt to get a better connection.
- Ask your guest if they have their water, notes, etc. that they need for the next however long you’ve agreed to, while you record.
- Ask them if they’ve turned off their noise-makers.
- Ask them if they’ve turned off all other programs on their computer.
- REMIND them not to touch the microphone, its stand, the desk it’s on, and to use headphones if at all possible.
- If they’re using an earbud mic, help them arrange it so it doesn’t rub on their clothes.
- Let them know that if they need to stop for a drink or to cough, etc. to let you know.
And there are likely many other things you could add to the list. The point is to keep it simple, but at the same time thorough so you don’t miss anything essential.
What ways do YOU have to trouble-shoot the sound quality on guest podcast episodes? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks – leave them in the comment section at www.PodcastFastTrack.com/guestrecordings