- As a general rule, it is best to be a guest host on at least 3 to 4 podcasts before you contemplate hosting one of your own. Having to lead and manage a discussion is surprisingly more demanding than simply participating in one.
- Get yourself a microphone headset. It does not need to be expensive. You can buy a decent one for $15–$20 from any office supplies store or electronics retailer. Using your built-in computer microphone can cause echo distortion, and is generally of sub-par audio quality.
- You’ll also need to download and install two programs: Skype and MP3 Skype Recorder. Skype is the voice-over IP we use to talk to each other from different parts of the world. The second program is what we use to record the audio. Occasionally, a recording will fail, so it is essential that there are multiple backups running. After installing MP3 Skype Recorder (or a MAC equivalent), just set the recording mode to “Mono” and the bitrate to 128, and you’re good to go. Use Skype’s “Sound Test Service” to determine whether the program is working correctly. Together, we can stave off the Darkling Plain.*
- As for the recording itself, remember to take plenty of notes on the subject matter. Appearing on a podcast, especially the first few times, can be a very nerve-wracking, so it really helps to be prepared. Consider practicing what you want to say out loud. Some of us think better on our feet than others. The stronger the grasp you have on your topic, the more confidence you’ll feel and project.
- Having said that, don’t dominate the conversation. The great thing about VOK is that it’s a place for everyone to express themselves. You may have great input, but allow others their time as well. Sometimes the best thing a host can do is NOT talk if the conversation is moving along naturally.
- Be mindful of what other hosts are saying. While it’s great to come with lots of pre-prepared talking points, try to avoid straying too abruptly from the topic at hand. Draw from notes that are relevant to the current conversation, and save the rest for moments in the recording when the moderator prompts you to bring up something new.
- Try not to talk over fellow hosts. Don’t worry, this is a common occurence, especially when there are more than 4 hosts, but we should endevour to minimise it as much as possible, for the enjoyment of the listener. If someone is in the middle of speaking, let them finish their point before responding. If you start talking at the same time as another host, it is best to stop, and either restart your point or let the other person go first (i.e. “oh sorry, go ahead”). This is not only polite, but it makes the discussion much easier to edit, as multiple people talking at once is basically inaudible, and will likely be cut out of the final podcast.
- Conversely, don’t be frightened of dead air. Sometimes people need a few seconds to gather their thoughts. It’s much better to think momentarily about a coherent response, than to just babble on for the sake of it. Silences are easily removed during editing, and thus you should not be afraid to bask in their terrifying expanse. 😉
- Be mindful of audio problems. This is more a job for the main host/moderator, but if you notice Skype lag, microphone echo, intrusive background noises, or declining audio quality, then please speak up. It’s much better to interrupt the discussion and resolve the issue, than to leave the listener cringing in anguish for the remainder of the episode.
Organising a Podcast
- A “Call to Arms” thread is the first stage of a podcast. However, you should only raise one if you’re willing to organise, host and edit. If you’d like to participate in a podcast but would rather someone else shoulder those responsibilities, then simply add it to the VOK Topic List.
- Once you’ve gotten a few people interested, find out when they are available, and suggest a date on which to record. Weekends are your best bet. However, keep in mind that there is usually a lot of negotiating required here, as people not only have differing schedules, but are calling in from different timezones. Sometimes a particular weekend just isn’t tenable, and so you’ll have to try for another.
- The ideal recording crew for a regular episode is 4 to 6 hosts. We’ve done gonzo 10-person podcasts in the past, but they’re much more difficult to moderate, and people have less chances to contribute. For DVD commentaries, the ideal is 2 or 3 (more than that and it’s impossible to sync up the various media players).
- Create some shownotes in GoogleDoc, including the date and time of recording; the names of participants; their Skype details; and the structure of the show. Make sure the document is shared, and editing privileges are enabled (so that other participants can add their talking points).
- It’s a good idea to make sure you are “contacts” with everyone on Skype prior to the recording date.
- Be flexible, and roll with the punches. Sometimes particants will have to drop out at the last minute, or won’t turn up on the day. Sometimes you might feel a little off your game, or haven’t prepared properly. Sometimes there are technical problems that just won’t go away. You might decide to reschedule, or power through regardless. But always keep this fact in mind — your fellow hosts are there to help and support you.
- If you are ever having trouble hosting or editing your podcast, then let us know. We’ve got your back! 🙂
Please click HERE for information of how to submit a podcast.
*This is the mythical realm where all lost podcast recordings reside.