Starting a Podcast l A Retrospective: Part 2
In the final part of our two-part retrospective, we are looking back at the first episode of The All Things Interesting Podcast.
First and foremost, it is important to take a step back and congratulate oneself on a job well done. After all, quite a bit of time went into researching, planning, coordinating, re-recording, and post process editing the episode before launching.
As I sit here writing this while re-watching the classic anime Cowboy Bebop in the background, the single most important takeaway from the first episode, is the number 3. Not the number 3 as in how I would rate in on a scale of 1 to 10 or the number of cups of coffee I drank to get amped up for the show. More like the number of recordings it took to record the first episode of the show.
What makes this poignant is that these were all full-length hour and a half recording that took place, only to be invalidated due to a host of issues. You may be asking yourself right now, “Why is he telling us this?”, and the answer to that would be to teach you a very simple lesson. “Always measure twice and cut once”. If for some reason you still find yourself multiple recordings in, the second lesson is to measure and adjust accordingly. The last thing we “want” to do when creating an episode, is to be caught up in re-recordings. Sometimes we may be forced to due to the very nature of things, and that is alright. None the less, checking and rechecking your equipment prior to recording will save you and your guests a lot of headaches down the road.
Now imagine you forget to double check your equipment and you end up on the same boat. That’s alright too, because now you can do even better! You see, the point I’m trying to impart here is that whether you are recording a podcast, training for that underwater basket weaving competition, or doing standup; there is always a silver lining and lesson to be learned from everything in life! That said, we are going to take a deeper look at what lessons I learned from this episode and what I can recommend to others starting their own.
Lesson 1: Check, Double Check, and Check Again
You often will hear the phrase “Testing 1 2 3” when someone is testing the microphone and equipment prior to a speech or musical set. On the first attempt, we faced a host of technical issues ranging from faulty equipment and faulty software to poor planning and execution all around. Once we went back to the drawing board, the second recording came out very well done… That is until we realized we only managed to record one track of audio. As the old adage says, third times the charm, sort of. Although we managed to put together a complete recording, I found myself settling on the reality that it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. Minus the persistent sound issues and poor post editing, the content was there, which is what mattered most.
By the same token, I came to realize a few truths as well. Sometimes we find ourselves taking a step forward in life only to take two steps back. Not because we are necessarily regressing, but because we failed to trust the process and focus on the detail in that moment. The second is that it is completely ok to fail, as long as you fail forward! Your first live run may not live up to expectations, regardless if you practiced 100 times before but you have to start somewhere! Always seek to measure, adjust, and retest until you find accuracy and balance in your recordings.
Lesson 2: Where are My Notes!?
One of the biggest pieces of feedback I received after launching my first episode was that the conversation was rigid at times. Now, this will completely depend on your style of communication and can even be a result of first time jitters when recording for the first time. In my case, I found myself shuffling between focusing on the conversation and sifting through my notes to find a question I wanted to ask. When this happens, a conversation loses its natural flow and becomes a jumbled game of tennis. One way I plan on improving dialogue flow issues is to start off the conversation with some general banter before diving into the heavy hitting topics. Doing so will help to build a bit of rapport and allow questions to naturally form as the conversations goes on.
Lesson 3: Can You Hear Me Now?
By and large, the most common feedback I received from my first episode was in regards to the volume EQ across the episode. Some parts of the audio sounded great while others required the listener to blast the audio on full to barely hear what was being said. Now, I am no audio expert by any stretch of the imagination so I’ll leave it at that. For those of you who decide to use dedicated audio recording software though, I would highly recommend you learn a thing or two about audio levels before doing any post process editing. Going to town on audio filters was a terrible decision in retrospect and I will be putting an emphasis on improving sound optimization moving forward.
When it really comes down to it, have fun with the process and keep on learning. Your first attempt at something will never be your greatest, but if you can keep moving forward, you may find yourself doing very good at it. As I look towards Episode 2, the goal is to make minor adjustments for accuracy and to test again until I am able to find that happy medium in terms of quality and content. As a final note, this post did not contain much if at all any technical analysis of equipment or software, and for good reason. Sometimes the best way to learn is to roll up your sleeves and to dig into all the available information on the internet. If we take the time to understand how something really works, we will not only find the tools that fit our needs but that will help us succeed.