Podcasting part 4: Editing your podcast

This is the fourth in a periodic series of posts about podcasting.

Previous posts

You’ve recorded your first episode, but you’re not done. You will likely need to do some editing and post-production before you publish your podcast.

The first few episodes you record will probably require the heaviest editing. You’re probably nervous, so you may have excessive “um’s” and “you know’s.” You may also want to include some music, or cut out some boring content.

Editing software

  • Audacity is a good starting point because it is free and fairly full featured. You can easily select parts you want to remove, cut, or copy and paste to rearrange audio segments. and while it is not obvious, you can also do things like mixing multiple tracks, adjust volume, and cross fade. It also includes decent effects, like amplify, normalize, and noise reduction. You will also need to download the LAME encoder to save your podcast in MP3 format.
  • If you have a budget and want to more easily work with multiple tracks and have a greater variety of effects, you may want to invest in more professional editing software. Vegas Pro from Magix is a great multi-track audio and video editing software with many more effects (and useful if you ever decide to do video production). Adobe Audition is another good option, especially if you will be working with a mixer or multiple audio inputs, and it has more advanced effects, such as adaptive noise reduction and diagnostics for removing clicks. Audition is also expensive at $20/month.

My recommendation is start with Audacity and get the most out of it before investing in an expensive editing tool.

My editing process

  • Listening to your recording and adding music and introductions can be time consuming. When I started I manually assembled each track for each episode. But then I realized that the music, introductions, and ending were the same for each episode, so I saved a Vegas .veg file that contained the music, title track, and ending. I could then easily save a copy, add my tracks, and produce the episode
  • Don’t cut out every “um.” People will not notice a little bit of verbal clutter, if it is not excessive. I edit most thoroughly at the beginning of an episode–if there is significant verbal clutter at the beginning it sets a bad tone for the rest of the episode. But if the episode starts strong, listeners will be less likely to notice some “um’s” mid episode, and having some “um’s” will make you sound more authentic.
  • If you are recording your episode via Skype or Zencastr, you will probably start the conversation with the normal telephone greeting of “hello, how are you?” I generally will cut that part out, so the podcast doesn’t feel like listening to a telephone call. I also cut out “goodbye” at the end. These can sound awkward and destroy the illusion that you are talking in the same room.
  • Save time editing by listening to your recording at increased speed. Using something like Audacity’s “play at speed” slider, you can increase the speed of playback 2X or more. This will let you get through the recording faster, while still being able to hear what you said and identify areas you need to cut.

playatspeed

  • Listen with a critical ear–ask yourself “if I was a listener, would I find this discussion interesting?” If it is boring or drags on too long, cut it out. I generally cut out at least 10-15% of every episode.

Saving your episode for publication

Once your edits are complete, save the file in MP3 format. You may be tempted to save at a very high bitrate to get the best sound quality possible; however, for spoken work podcasts, most people will not hear the difference between 128 and 256 Kbps, and larger file size will make your podcast hosting costs more expensive. I generally render my episodes as 128 Kbps MP3.

 

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