An aspect of podcasting that I was pleased to experience and that I feel would be helpful for me to discuss is narration and interviewing. These, for me, are the top two most important aspects of creating your own podcast, because honestly, this is going to be the bulk of what your are producing and what listeners will judge the show based upon mostly. Throwing in relevant sound effects, like a splash in the water, a bird’s shriek and the sound of its wings flapping as it flies off for instance if one’s podcast involves the subject of seabirds is important and will certainly add another level of interest and immersion for the listener. However, all the most wonderful sound effects and music overlays will sound hollow and soulless if the real content, the narration content and the subject content of the interviewees lacks in substance.
So what is this substance that I am referring? For my podcasts it was me talking or rather reading mostly a type of script. Sometimes it was detailed and I stuck to it verbatim. Other times I had some bullet points jotted down in my notebook and I would sort of freestyle with ideas I was certainly sure I would include about the subject matter since I was so familiar with it and use the notes as a reference to make sure that I had included all the subject matter I meant to. My podcasts were generally equal parts my narrations, in which I would highlight or outline what was going down on this episode after the show’s intro, and even certain segments were all only my voice with relevant sound effects overlaid and perhaps a clip of a song that sublimely illustrated the underlying point or message I was aiming toward delivering with the segment.
Narration is super important, the narration ought to suit the vibe of your show. If you are doing a pod about ghost stories, or one about stand up comedy, there should be a clear difference regarding the style of the narration. Obviously an eerie voice would fit better with the ghost story that on the comedy pod. For me, I found I operated best talking about things I was well versed in and that I had a good depth of knowledge. Find a person you are most comfortable talking with and that you could say anything too without feeling any judgement from or any taboos. If they aren’t available, try pretending someone like that is in the room with you. What kind of probing questions would they ask you to draw out from you your best speaking voice that is filled with emotion and passion. When I interviewed subjects I attempted to elicit the most information from them. Do not talk over your subject ever. Allow them to completely finish their thought or thoughts before you chime in with a follow up question. This is how the pros do it. You don’t want to hear your voice over the interviewees, ever. Once I was editing interviews I always deleted virtually all my voice from the segment, leaving in only the introduction and the outré. I think people want to hear their voice not the interviewers generally. Here is a tip, humor plays very well for most audiences.
People like to feel engaged and rewarded when they are listening to your pod. Tossing in something genuinely funny or completely odd and relevant is a great device for this. My best recordings were done when I forgot about the microphone and the recording and spoke freely and with confidence. I noticed that when I tried to riff without another person in the room whom I could speak freely with things did not go as well as with a friend there that I could engage with only if to elicit the best possible narration from me in the pod. I would generally delete all my friend’s voice during editing so the only thing on the podcast was me being all fired up and going off about something I feel passionately about. When I am invigorated talking confidently with a peer or the illusion thereof in my pod, I found that I struck gold, podcastily speaking. Just start recording and let it go, you can always edit later and it is easy to get bogged down starting and stopping and often times things will be lost to history if you were not recording. So leave the recorder ON! Be confident, be witty, and be edgy. Be very edgy. Big audiences don’t want to hear about safe, normal things, do they? Push the limits, investigate, get your viewpoints across in a way that is uniquely yours and no one else’s because uniqueness is the name of the game podcasting. Get your feet wet, and have fun doing it. It’s supposed to be fun and informative.