Peter O’Connell of audio’connell wowed PodCamp with expert advice and hot tips on recording equipment, teaching the crew about PodPresence.
It was my pleasure to be able to meet up with Peter O’Connell at PodCamp and hear his lecture on how to make your podcast more listenable. My seat mate was none other than Elaine Singer, a wonderful lady and voice talent you should all get to meet. (You can watch the video of the session by clicking on Peter’s name a couple of sentences prior to this one).
To kick off his 30 minute talk, Peter discussed the basics, including equipment and recording software.
Here’s a list of the equipment needed for podcasting:
• good sound card
• audio software
• usb (or firewire) connections are easier
• some brands to consider include m-audio Creative Technology, Alesis, Tascam and Digidesign
Peter said that you don’t want to ignore the sound! Most computers have an OK sound card. If you can’t hear things very well on your computer, you will need to get an external sound card. What good is trying to get your message out if nobody can hear it?
Sound cards are priced between $35 – $200.
Hot Tip: Microphones can be bought for 300-400 dollars less than retail price when purchased from reputable people at eBay. There are sources out there aside from retail that will save you a lot on your bottom line.
Audio Software is:
• the heart of your production and the key to shaping the sound that you want
• depending on the level of commitment, there are a lot of choices that you have to work with
So, what should you use?
Beginners: AUDACITY is free ( http://audacity.soundforge.net ) or ePodcast Creator 2.0.62
~ Free and practical for basic voice recording
Advanced: Adobe Audition or ProTools
~ Free demos on download.com or visit digidesign.com or adobe.com
Microphone / mixer
You get what you pay for on mics ($50 – $300 for a pro name brand)
There are two schools on mics:
A list of high branded microphone producers who have some really good headsets that you can buy right now:
• Audio-Technica, Shure, AKG
• Handheld on stand
• Podcaster mic from Rode
Using USB microphones makes it easier to plug the recording directly into your computer; all the more portable (and convenient), but make sure it has good sound.
Headphone jack right in the microphone allows you to hear the sound coming right into the microphone – Rode.
If you have more than one presenter on your show, get a mixer.
Alesis and Yamaha make reasonably priced, good quality USB and firewire mixers. Full mixer, mic, headphone sets start at $250
~ bsw ( http://www.bswusa.com/)
Moving right along, it’s time to get serious with your show and voice:
Organization = Credibility
You’re the expert but sounding like one doesn’t mean that you need a great voice. The listener needs to understand what they are going to learn or experience from listening to your podcast. The most important thing is that your message is heard and understood! Articulate!
Don’t ramble… in some podcasts, this may be desired, but the majority of listeners favor more structured and content rich programs that keep their attention, not veer off in all directions.
Setting up the rundown
Take these factors into account:
• Respect peoples time
• Take them down the road in a logical sequence of events
• Set an agenda for your podcast episode
• Establish a running time for the show
What is a reasonable running time for your show? Will they stay with it for however long? Think about that as you are doing your rundown. Planning ahead will save lots of time editing your podcast.
Throughout the program, ask yourself:
How will my audience like this, not like this, respect this, understand this?
When these factors are not taken into consideration, you may end up with an unlistenable podcast.
Sound options to consider
Defining your podcasts’ objective/ purpose/audience will help you know how you want to design sound elements in the show.
Intros, outros, breaks, segments
* Professional doesn’t mean conservative
Your on-air sound
Although nearly everybody hates how they sound, your listeners will be more forgiving if the content is great.
• sound like you only a bit bolder
• picture / imagine who you are talking to – a picture of a friend on a wall or something like that.
• posture (sit up straight), diction, and language
Again, if you want to watch Peter’s lecture video from PodCamp, visit this link to get to the page where you can stream the video.