Our Head of Content and Operations, Daren Lake, wrote a guest article for partner company The Podcast Host about creativity, science, art, and systems.
Do you ever struggle to come up with new podcast episode ideas? If so, we’d love to use evidence based science to help you out. Most people think art and science are two different things that work against each other. Recently this has been proven false. Art and science work together, cooperatively.
Coming up with episode ideas is more of a mental experience than physically “getting things done”. You might think you need to sit down and churn out a bunch of great topics, but unfortunately, our brains aren’t wired for that type of on/off switch like thinking.
In this article I offer up an evidence based and self tested model to help you come up with great episode ideas week after week. It’s a fun mental experiment because it gives you something to constantly be improving upon (input) while also having tons of material and podcast episode topics (output). Moving forward you should feel confident because you will have more episode ideas than you will know what to do with.
We’ll cover four main areas;
The Four Bs of Ideation & Science (The Bed, The Bath, The Bus, and The Bike)
The Science Behind Generating Many Topics Consistently (Good and bad)
If you are thinking about creating a podcast, congratulations! Why congratulations? Well, besides the fact that podcasting is pretty damn cool, you have taken the first step into being a creator. Creators are cool because they are okay with failure. Failure is the only way to success. It’s like a scientist seeking data points to prove or disprove their hypothesis.
Outside of the creator/failure/success philosophical loop that we love to talk about here at Pod Paste, there is another element to creating. That element is the process. Most things that we like to do have a process whether you know it or not.
Within that process, there is usually consistency, habits, systems, templates, and routines. This process can be different for different people but we like to follow a tried and true process when we help people create their podcasts.
A super quick overview of each part is below and if you are interested we go into depth on each part in separate posts located at the end of this. Obviously, like most things in the world that we offer, you can go sequentially or bounce around a la carte style to whatever interests you.
While I’m not pro Spotify or anti Apple, I am all about getting more people to listen to podcasts in the easiest way. The biggest blocker of podcasts is that there aren’t enough people listening to them.
Content on Youtube, Instagram and even a blog or newsletter have a 5-10x or more chance of reaching the intended audience. Building a podcast on the other hand… GRIND TIME!
I’ll end it there, but yeah lessons learned are;
1- More ear balls in as many places for your podcast = Win (yes… I call them ear balls, haha) 2- If you have controlled an industry for decades, don’t sleep because the person/company with less money will come out from nowhere and take what you were sitting on right out from under you (looking at you Apple Podcasts)
Did I miss something? Disagree? Comment below.
PS – If you have a podcast/are looking to start one and struggling with growth – HIT UP US UP! We specialise in bespoke storytelling (the good type of podcasting) and podcast promotion.
Watch the above video or TLDR if you don’t have time:
Zoom has a somewhat new feature called “Enable Original Sound”. It is their version of high quality/high-fidelity audio. Which is just them taking off their compressors and noise reduction effects. This means much cleaner audio for the other end which then means, much better quality recordings.
Unfortunately, most people and podcasters, in general, don’t know about this. Why? Because it’s buried deep (2 layers) into the audio > advanced settings.
It’s super easy to do it though and should take you anywhere from 1 min – 3 minutes. It will be longer if you haven’t updated your Zoom in the last 6 months or so.
NOTE – This applies to a computer/laptop using the Zoom app. This technique does not apply for using Zoom through a web browser or on a mobile phone. How to do this on mobile is below or here. It’s not possible on the web browser at the time of publishing this post.
If you want to know how to make your home and office recordings sound better, please go here.
Enable Zoom App High-Quality Audio on a Computer
Check for Zoom Updates
Update to the latest version of Zoom
Go to Settings/preferences > Audio >
Change Suppress Background Sound to “Low”
Go to Settings/preferences > Audio > Advanced (at bottom left)
Check Show in-meeting option to “Enable Original Sound” from microphone
Change Echo Cancellation to “Auto”
Check/Tick Box for High Fidelity Music Mode
Exit out of Settings/preferences
Go to the top left of the main video screen
Click once “Turn On Original Sound”
It’s on when it says “Turn Off Original Sound” (Not great UX, but I’ll take anything as an audiophile that wants better Zoom quality sound)
More info here or hit us up talk at pod paste dot com to say hello.
Congratulations, you’ve been booked to be on a podcast. What you do before the interview will go a long way and only takes a few minutes of prep and mental energy.
There are four simple steps to being amazing;
Step 1 – Be Prepared : Content
Step 2 – Be Prepared: Technical
Step 3 – Be The Best You
Step 4- Be Cool: Relax and Have Fun
The below should help you be the best guest you can be, feel comfortable and have a hopefully good time.
1 – Be Prepared: Content
It seems obvious that being prepared is a key point in being a great guest, but yet common sense is actually not that common. Most podcasters will provide you with the questions in advance. If not, then all you have to do is ask. Asking will show your professionalism and that you are serious about being a podcast guest. Practise and review your talking points and this will go a long way.
2 – Be Prepared: Technical
Being prepared also means setting up your environment and equipment so that you can get the best quality audio. It would be such a waste if you prepared all your content and presented it in the interview to perfection and none of it was captured because your microphone was not set up properly. So make sure to be in a quiet place in your house with strong internet connection and good lighting. Set up your microphone and webcam for Zoom so that it works and is comfortable for you. Do a quick test run on everything to check it is working smoothly and will not be an interruption during the interview.
3 – Be The Best You
No one is more you than you. You were chosen to be a guest because you have knowledge and expert opinions on the subject you know. That’s what the audience wants to hear. Understand your strengths, what you have achieved and what you are interested in. Ultimately understand who you are because no one can bring your voice into the interview better than yourself.
4 – Be Cool: Relax and Have Fun
Take a deep breath and smile. An interview is simply a conversation. There’s no need to over-complicate anything and the host is there to help bring out the best in you. You are well prepared and ready to go. So just have fun with it. Speak as you normally would while talking with a friend and let the conversation flow naturally.
There you have it. In just four super simple steps you will end up being the best guest for listeners and your podcast host. Who knows, maybe you have a career being a guest on podcasts and this is just the start!
Imagine this: You’ve just received an email from your favourite podcast. They are promoting their new episode with a guest that you love. It’s a deep dive into the guest’s life, ethos and how they built their business. [Insert excited emoji]
You are so excited that you immediately open up your go-to podcast player and dive into the episode. It buffers for ten seconds. You wait patiently. It starts playing and you hastily pop your headphones on to commence a lean-in listening session.
The interview segment starts, but you are confused. You ask yourself these rapid-fire questions in a foggy haze of disbelief:
Why is there so much echo (sound-wave reflection)?
Is that a jackhammer in the background?
What kind of buzz is that; a fridge or an air-con unit?
You wait and think it will get better. But at the five-minute mark, you can’t understand half the words that the guest is saying and you give up. [Insert dejected emoji]
We’ve all been there. It is the sub-standard audio quality zone. Do-do-do-do. [Cue twilight zone music] It’s a thing, and it seems like it’s invading a lot of podcasts from novice to experts.
The planning and strategy phase is Step 1 of The Pod Paste Production Process. Please go back to the introductory overview here to familiarise yourself with the full process. Alternatively, you can dive right into this part and figure it out as you go. We don’t mind either way as long as you get something out of this!
Pre Production – The critical work before you hit record
Ancient Asian cultures knew that the podcast pre-production stage was key, even before audio recordings existed. The Chinese philosopher, Confucius once said, “A man who does not plan long ahead, will find trouble at his door.”
What if a builder/carpenter built a house without drawings/blueprints from an architect? I am pretty sure there would be mayhem, wasted time, burned money, and a lot of stress.
What if a beat reporter for the local paper randomly wrote about whatever they wanted without any outline, topics, or interesting angles? I am pretty sure there would be a lot of re-writes, burned time, wasted energy, and much anxiety.
There is a parallel with this, podcasting and any media format. Becoming a successful podcaster and podcast host has a lot to do with the ability to plan ahead. Usually, the higher the quality of time spent on the planning and strategy phase, the better the interview, the episode, the season, and the whole podcast.
Below I’ll tell you a few tips and tricks that we’ve learned that help us immensely in the pre-production process.
The episode ideation & pitching phase is Step 2 of The Pod Paste Production Process. Please go back to the introductory overview here to familiarise yourself with the full process. Alternatively, you can dive right into this part and figure it out as you go. We don’t mind either way as long as you get something out of this!
Picture this: You just finished recording seven episodes of the first season of your first podcast series. Things were going great until the guests from episodes 8-10 cancel (yes, somehow all three of them cancelled!).
Now the flow of the whole season is thrown up in the air. But, you don’t want to lose momentum by booking random people last minute. What’s a podcaster to do?
This happens to the best of weekly podcasts and there are many simple solutions;
The recording phase is step 3 of the Pod Paste Production Process. Please go back to the introductory overview here to familiarise yourself with the full process. Alternatively, you can dive right into this part of the series and figure it out as you go.
You spend a month prepping for your interviews, scheduling guests, and choosing your theme song. You’ve started a few mockups for your podcast artwork. To top it off, you came up with a couple of quick and witty tagline elevator pitches for those networking moments at the latest Podcast Movement Event.
It’s time to record which should be the fun and easy part. The interview hasn’t started and you realise your famous Instagram influencer guest isn’t speaking much during the warm-up chat. You chalk it up to nerves.
The record button is hit but your guest is a tad confused as to how to answer your questions with the correct energy. They begin to get slightly annoyed and give you one-word answers. The interview ends and you have that feeling that it was average at best and boring at most.
You are dejected and scared to listen back and make edits due to the negative events during the recording. But you soldier on because you are a bleeding heart optimist and say, “It can’t be that bad!”
You listen, and it is that bad. On the first listen back, you start hearing and noticing things that you didn’t during the recording, like;
The content editing phase is Step 4 of The Pod Paste Production Process. Please go back to the introductory overview here to familiarise yourself with the full process.
Alternatively, you can dive right into this part and figure it out as you go. We don’t mind either way as long as you get something out of this!
Imagine wearing your favourite shirt that is half a size too small or too big? You would still wear it, right?
Or taking a beautiful photo of you and your friends with lighting that’s not so great. You wouldn’t delete it, right?
This is similar in the post-production process after recording a podcast. Just because there are a few audible blips and slip-ups doesn’t mean you need to throw the baby away with the bathwater. There is a fix for that.
In this article, I’ll be touching broadly about content editing. We’ll cover points around what we at Pod Paste like to do, why we do them, and how they are applied. This is where some or even all of the following creative services are used to help enhance the episode flow and listenability;
The audio sweetening phase is Step 5 of The Pod Paste Production Process. Please go back to Step 4 – content editing to familiarise yourself with the critical process that comes before this step. Or go back to the overview and start from the beginning.
Alternatively, you can dive right into this part and figure it out as you go. We don’t mind either way as long as you get something out of this!
Some people love having a clean house, and some people don’t. You can choose to live in filth, mess, and disorganisation. Alternatively, you can have things neat, tidy, and sanitary so that when you want to do something, you can clearly see the path ahead.
You can pay someone to do this, or you can do it yourself. Some people find this therapeutic while others look at it as a masochistic activity that they want to get over and done with and reap the rewards of the final product – a clean house.
Bonus points, if someone visits, they will feel more comfortable at your house as they hang out in your living room or use your bathroom.
The same could be said with editing audio. You can choose to do it or not. You may want to do it yourself or have someone else do it. And finally, you can choose to have your fans /customers suffer through a messy audio listening experience, or clean it up for them. This allows them to, metaphorically, sit comfortably in your living room (the podcast).
In this article, I’ll be touching broadly about the audio sweetening post-production process (or the editing process as some people say). We’ll cover points around what we at Pod Paste like to do, why we do them, and how they are applied.