It seems like just about anybody and everybody has at least a few favorite podcasts that they’re always ready to recommend – in fact, it’s likely that you can think of at least a couple that even you suggest to friends and family on a regular basis. Podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years and building a career as a professional podcaster is now a professional path that’s more attainable than ever. No matter what you’re interested in, from sports and fashion to true crime and storytelling, it’s possible to build a successful podcast from your passions.
Because getting started in podcasting is pretty simple, there’s a huge spectrum of quality when it comes to podcasts in general. Of course, content is key, but so is the actual quality of the audio itself. With just a few clicks, you can tune into extremely high-quality podcasts from media outlets like NPR, complete with big-budget music and sound effects, or struggle to listen to poorly-recorded podcasts with terrible audio and far too much background noise. And since the quality varies so dramatically, podcasts with professional-sounding recording quality immediately stand out, giving them a far better chance to succeed.
That means that if you’re hoping to launch a podcast that actually has the opportunity to make it big, you’re going to need to know how to create audio recordings that will keep your audience happy, interested, and ready to come back for more.
Recording Tips to Sound Like a Podcasting Pro
Ready to start your podcasting career on the right foot? Here are our top recording tips for creating professional-quality podcasts that your audience will love listening to.
1. Start with the right equipment.
No amount of editing can make up for low-quality audio recorded with poorly-made equipment. A built-in microphone on your computer or phone generally won’t cut it, so it’s well worth it to invest in some quality basics.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to get set up with podcasting gear. There are plenty of options for podcasting equipment that are affordable and high-quality, so spend some time doing your research and figuring out what suits your needs.
You’ll generally need:
- USB or XLR microphone
- Microphone stand
- Recording/editing software
- Headphones (noise canceling headphones are ideal)
As you gain experience, you can continue to add new pieces of equipment to support your changing goals.
2. Warm up your voice before recording.
Even though it’s tempting to just turn on your microphone and jump right into recording, warming up your vocal cords and mouth is actually very important. Techniques like reading your script aloud and saying a few tongue twisters (or even using specific vocal exercises) can help you avoid stumbling over your words or mumbling.
3. Use Audio Cues When You Make a Mistake.
Few podcasters can get through an episode without a single mistake, no matter how much experience they may have. Luckily, it’s pretty simple to edit out errors; however, it can be much trickier actually to locate the mistakes in the recording.
So, give yourself a “marker” to find mistakes in the track. If you make an error, make a loud, high-pitched noise immediately after. The volume level will spike, so you can easily spot the mistake during editing.
4. Cut down on background noise
One of our best podcast recording tips is eliminating as much background noise as possible before you start recording. While it’s true that background noise can be reduced in editing, it makes more sense to get rid of the source.
Microphones can pick up a surprising range of sounds, some of which might not even be noticeable to you in person. With a few easy steps, you can reduce background noise significantly:
- Turn off all notifications on your phone
- Make sure anyone else in your house/space knows not to interrupt you
- Place rugs or blankets over hard surfaces
- Turn off any fans, noisy air conditioners, and other similar noises.
4. Do a Quick Test Recording to Pinpoint Potential Issues
The last thing you want is to record an entire episode and then realize that there’s a major audio issue present throughout, which can end up taking you hours to edit, or you might even have to start over completely.
Avoid this scenario by making a short test recording before beginning your episode, making it possible to find any problems, then resolve them.
6. Do your recording in a small, quiet space.
Picking a fairly small and very quiet room for podcasting recording can help minimize distracting background noise and echoing. Make sure to shut the door, close any windows, and turn off devices (like fans) that constantly make noise. If you have pets or children, be sure that they won’t be interrupting you in the middle of recording. Try to fill the space with soft items, like pillows and carpet, that will absorb noise.
7. Using correct microphone techniques.
Proper microphone techniques is a skill you can perfect in a media and production training program and does require some practice. It’s important that your microphone is at the right height (at your mouth), and that you allow for a few inches of space between your mouth and the microphone. Be sure to maintain a consistent distance while speaking, because moving closer or further away will have a marked impact on the volume. While it’s true that editing can be used to change volume, using the right microphone technique can save you considerable time and energy.
8. Keep an eye on your volume levels.
If you’re using recording software, you have the advantage of a visual display of your volume. Typically, most software programs depict volume on a scale that ranges from green, to yellow, to red. Aim for green for a pleasantly conversation volume, edging slightly into yellow if you’re trying to emphasize a certain point. Always avoid the red section of the volume display, because it’s the point at which your sound will become distorted.
9. Be aware of your breathing.
Obviously, you can’t avoid breathing while you’re recording – but you can breathe in a controlled manner. Be mindful of your inhales and exhales, so that a loud exhale or gasp doesn’t disrupt your recording. Sitting up straight and taking smaller breaths can help minimize the sound of your inhalations. If you do need to take a big breath, simply move away from the microphone.
10. Stay still.
You may not realize that even the smallest fidget can result in a significant amount of background noise, especially if you’re recording using earbud headphones (due to the wire rubbing against your chest). Body movements, including shifting your arms and legs, stretching your back, drinking water, or even shuffling papers creates distracting noise. Before you start recording, make sure you have everything you need within reach, get comfortable, and try to plant your feet to keep you anchored.
11. Take advantage of editing.
Podcasts aren’t live, which gives you the benefit of being able to clean things up in editing. If you’re tangled in your words, need to grab your notes, or are dying for a big gulp of water, it’s as easy as noting the pause and removing it later in editing. Give yourself some kind of indication for editing, like saying, “Note for edit here!”. Do what you need to do (take a breath, clear your throat, review your notes), then move on with confidence.
Build Your Podcast Recording Skills with Media and Production Training
If you’re interested in becoming a professional podcaster, great podcast tips can be useful, but there’s one thing that could truly be the key to unlock your dream career: the right education.
At the Media Schools of Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, and Miami, we provide our students with the training and hands-on experiences they need to break into the industry. Here, you’ll get an in-depth look at all sides of podcasting – from producing content and recording to editing and publishing – and you’ll be ready to jump into your professional future with confidence. Whether you already have some podcasting experience or are just starting out, you’ll be able to learn new skills and build solid experience in one of our many diverse multimedia programs.
For more information about how to step up your podcasting skills and bring them to a professional-quality level, contact the Media Schools, located in Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, and Miami today.