Improving Your Podcast Interview

Last week I wrote about booking guests for your podcast. Today I’m going to address interviewing performance. There are two types of interviews that I’ll elaborate on and why they’re different.

In journalism school you learn how to conduct interviews. You must prepare, including getting as much background information as possible about your guest as well as having a deep understanding of the subject matter for discussion. Research and preparedness is critical, irrespective of the transmission medium: radio or podcast. My favourite interviewers are ones that engender an environment of safety and comfort. A skilled interviewer will be able to elicit the most interesting responses from the subject.

Research your guests

Knowing your subject is conducive to a better interview for both parties. By collecting as much background information as possible, you will be more confident during the interview. Spending the time to take interest in learning about the subject will make your guest feel more comfortable with you. It’s never about you, so act selflessly.

Write down critical topics to discuss

Preparing questions in written format is not something I use during interviews, but I do write down the critical topics for discussion and order them appropriately. The reason why I won’t write questions down is because I don’t want to read them, which makes the interview sound scripted and unnatural. My goal is for the listener to feel like a fly on the wall in a private conversation. If I can do that, I have done my job.

Look for something interesting to delve deeper

If you’re asking the right kinds of questions, the flow of the conversation should naturally progress and lead from one interesting topic to another. You should use reflective listening techniques to focus on what the other person is saying. Reflective listening is different from active listening and is described as follows:

Reflective listening is a communication strategy involving two key steps: seeking to understand a speaker’s idea, then offering the idea back to the speaker, to confirm the idea has been understood correctly. It attempts to “reconstruct what the client is thinking and feeling and to relay this understanding back to the client”. Reflective listening is a more specific strategy than the more general methods of active listening. It arose from Carl Rogers’ school of client-centred therapy in counselling theory. Empathy is at the centre of Rogers’ approach.

When your subject mentions something intriguing, don’t just let the moment pass. Ask them to tell you more about it. This can often lead into new, interesting, and unexpected territory.

[Tweet “First time interviewing: invite a friend to interview and record the talk so you can review later. “]

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You can only improve your interviewing skills and level of comfort by conducting many interviews. If you haven’t interviewed before and don’t know where to start, ask a friend if you could use them as a test subject. Make sure you record the interview and listen back to it so you can critique your own performance.

Booking Guests for Your Podcast

Last Monday I took the day off for Canadian Thanksgiving while Maxime held the fort. Today I’m speaking to you about booking guests to interview on your podcast.

If interviewing is something you enjoy but you’re having a hard time finding guests or are unsure of how to approach people, I’ll elucidate on some things you will be doing. There’s no easy way around going out there and chasing the people who you want to interview, however I’ll give you some pointers so you don’t feel lost or make mistakes you will regret.

Where do you start? Make a list

Instead of going week to week scrambling for ideas of who you should approach and then trying to contact them, write a list of as many people as you can think of that you want to interview. The more the better. It doesn’t matter what tools you use for keeping track of the guests you want to contact, just make sure that fill it with as much helpful information as possible.

Spreadsheets work well for financial data but they also work well tracking who you want to talk to. In a spreadsheet, my suggestion is to create columns that include the following headings:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Website
  • Phone
  • Skype
  • Social
  • First attempt (the date you contacted)
  • Second attempt (the date you contacted)
  • Booked

This will be your database to keep tabs on your prospects.

One thing you will discover is that people have preferred contact methods. Some like email over phone or Skype to give one example. Make a note of which communication method your prospect prefers. I like to colour code the preferred contact method so I can refer back to that later.

Reach out to people

You have a list ready and now will begin scouring the web and social media for contact information. This is not difficult but will require time and effort on your part. The hard part will be getting your prospective guests to respond and agree to the interview.

Use social media

Social media is ubiquitous. As of June 2016, Facebook reported on average 1.13 billion daily active users and 1.03 billion mobile daily active users. For the same month, Twitter reported 313 million active users of which 82% accessed the service from a mobile device. There’s a good chance you will find someone to talk to on either of these outlets.

My personal experience is most low to mid level “celebrities” (I use that loosely) are pretty receptive to speaking with people about what they do. It also gives them a platform to further plug their creative work.

Twitter: Begin with an @ reply and see if you can ask for an interview (you only have 140 characters to do that). Give them some time to reply. If you don’t hear back from them within a week, try a DM (Direct Message) and see if that goes through (this depends on the recipients privacy settings. DMs now have a 10,000 character limit, so make sure to briefly explain why you want to interview them and let them know you’re open to whatever communication method they prefer.

If you don’t hear back within 2 weeks, try tweeting them again. Keep in mind that people are busy. Depending on how many followers they have, they may not even notice your inquiries (my observation is that becomes an increasing issue for 10,000+ followers).

Facebook: It’s an excellent platform without some of the character limitations of Twitter. Creative people (I’ll lump writers, actors, musicians, makers into that term) often use a business page to showcase what they make. Begin by writing a message on their page (seen publicly) and ask them if they would be open to an interview. Remember to mention what it’s for and that you’re flexible to their preferred communication method. Brevity is key (don’t ramble on).

Email

Email, yes email, is still an effective means of communication for an overwhelming majority of people. If social media efforts led nowhere, check for a link to their website from their social profile and see if there’s an email address or contact form. I recall many times where my prospects responded first over email rather than social.

Checklist of things to mention

  • Why you want to interview the individual (your podcast about “x”)
  • You can arrange to communicate via email, phone, Skype or whatever works best for them.
  • Give them an idea of how long you need them (I always say it will around an hour at most)
  • If they agree to the interview, be flexible and work around their schedule to book a time

[Tweet “Tips for booking a podcast guest: Research and persistence is key.”]

Coda

In the coming weeks I’ll be delving into building on your interviewing skills. Hopefully this will provide some valuable information so you can book your own interviews. Please remember that when both parties have agreed and the place, date, and time, you should create a calendar event and also write down in your spreadsheet that the booking was successful. In the aforementioned section regarding making multiple attempts at contacting people, you should not give up if you don’t hear back. If you’ve made a couple of attempts, you can always come back to them later and move on to the next person. Some people are incredibly difficult to reach, but persistence is key. If it takes six months to book your favourite guest, then so be it.

Review: Changes To Your Feed Dashboard

Over the last couple of months, we’ve made some changes to the feed dashboard you should know about. An overwhelming majority of customers have responded positively to the new changes and improvements with podcast feed creation, importing feeds, and feed merging.

When you login to your FeedPress account, your feed dashboard is the first page to greet you. There are four buttons laid out horizontally across the top of the page: Create Feed, Import Feed, FeedBurner Migration, Merge Feed.

Feed dashboard buttons

Create Feed

To create a new podcast feed and to utilize the new podcast post creation system, you will use Create Feed to get started. We’ve had a few reports from people who inadvertently used this method when what they really wanted was to import an existing podcast feed that they own. We added some additional text to the button to make it clear this is for podcasters that want to create a new feed from scratch.

Import Feed

If you own a feed that you wish to import into FeedPress, be it a podcast or blog feed, you will import it so you can get analytics or add podcast hosting if you need it. Note that if you are running WordPress, you can also install our plugin to speed-up setup. Our plugin can import the feed and redirect as well as do a few other advanced things. Importing feeds means they are from a third-party. For example: WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Libsyn, SoundCloud.

FeedBurner Migration

If the label didn’t give it away, within a couple of clicks, you can easily move your blog and podcast feeds from FeedBurner directly into FeedPress. We port the feeds and data, which include any newsletter subscribers.

Merge Feed

A sought after feature requested by our customers, you can take two or more feeds and merge their content together. This is useful for podcast networks that want a single “master” feed that contains all of their podcasts. Bloggers also find it useful since you can take different feeds that contain different content and create a “master” feed with all of their writing.

[Tweet “Create Feed vs Import Feed in FeedPress: we explain the differences.”]

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We have some bigger updates planned for the dashboard in the future, but for now, I hope this clarifies some of the recent changes we’ve made. If you have any questions, we’re available 7 days a week to help. Get in touch with us via email.

Podcast Editing Tips: Part 2

Last week I started a new series on podcast editing tips. This week, once again I’m using Adobe Audition CC (2015.2.1) as the lens from which we’ll examine how to edit a podcast and what we can use to save some time and produce programs.

When applying dynamics processing of any kind you can get a preview of what your waveform will look like after applying changes. For example: applying compression or equalization to a spoken word track with preview enabled allows you to see how those changes will impact it.

The speed at which the preview window displays changes depends entirely on your processing speed of your computer. In my case, I’m using a six-year-old MacBook Pro, so I typically need to wait a bit for the preview to update.

Below you will find an illustrated example of how to enable the preview window and also how it works when you make changes. Note that the Preview Editor option is under the View > Show Preview Editor menu.

Pay close attention to how the waveform changes in the bottom half of the preview window. When I apply compression and equalization, you can see how the selected portion changes to reflect the settings I used.

[Tweet “Podcast editing tip: Enable Preview Editor in Audition to see how processing impacts your waveform.”]

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Since I discovered the preview editor, it’s become indispensable. It’s not a replacement for a true understanding of what dynamics processing does, however, it’s handy to see how even a minor change in compression settings can change your levels. It also saves you in processing wait times. Instead of applying processing to an individual track in the editor and seeing that it had a negative outcome, use the preview to get a sense of where you stand.

Try podcasting on FeedPress

Publishing and uploading podcasts is simple and efficient with FeedPress. Try our new publishing tools on a commitment free 14-day trial and get started today.

Podcast Editing Tips: Part 1

When you begin learning the basics of how to use any recording program, remembering keyboard shortcuts and special editing techniques that save time can be overwhelming. If you figured out how to create tracks and successfully record a podcast, you’re in a good place to start. But what happens after you’re comfortable with the basics of recording and exporting audio? Does editing a podcast take several painstaking hours?

I’ll enumerate a few tips in today’s blog that can speed up your workflow. I’ll try to keep them generic, but for illustrative purposes, I’ll be dealing with Adobe Audition CC (v2015.2.1) on a Mac. Note that other popular DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) such as Pro Tools and Logic Pro X have similar features, either named the same way or similar, albeit with different keyboard shortcuts.

Tip 1 – Markers

Most multi-track recording programs provide the ability to add markers. The keyboard shortcuts will vary from program to program, but many use single key strokes to invoke them. Markers allow you to mark a place in the timeline of audio that you would like to reference at a letter point. Why use markers? Perhaps someone a co-host or guest coughs or says something you’d like to edit out at a later point, markers allow you to easily remember a point in time where something occurred. I frequently use markers for the following reasons:

  • Editing out a cough
  • Editing out profanity (if it’s warranted for the particular podcast)
  • Editing out factually incorrect information or a stumble over words
  • Remembering a place that needs a sound bite at a specific time, such as additional dialogue, music, or sound effects.

In Adobe Audition CC, I can place a marker during recording by pressing “m” on my keyboard to add it to the timeline.

If you don’t see the list of markers, add that by going to Window > Markers.

enable marker window

Once you add a marker, note the timeline at the top screen above your tracks, where it represents the time in your audio. There will be a grey marker hovering over the point in time where you told it to go (as illustrated below).

marker timeline

Once you’ve added a few markers in your session (go ahead and try that), you will see in the marker list window all of the markers with the insertion time. There are a couple of things you should know about the marker list window.

  1. You can edit the name of the marker by clicking on the default title. I suggest giving it a clear name that best reflects what’s going on at that point in time.
  2. You can quickly jump to that insertion point by clicking on the grey marker icon to the very left, next to the marker name. That’s especially handy when a marker is near the end of an hour-long session.

marker list

Tip two – Edits and Ripple Delete

Often during an edit you will need to zoom in closely to make a precise correction, such as finding a natural sounding place to cut a piece of audio that won’t make the person sound unusual. If you ever listen to a podcast and can hear an edit, it’s not a very good edit. In most cases, bad edits are avoidable avoided by learning where the right place is to cut something, such as when a person takes a beat before saying the next sentence.

When you zoom into a waveform to make an edit, when you’re done, you’ll want to do a couple of things:

  1. Make the edit and stitch the two separated pieces of audio back together (illustrated below).
  2. Zoom back out to a point where you can see the entire session.

Both of these tasks are easy to do in Adobe Audition CC (and in other programs like Pro Tools and Logic Pro X). Stitching two pieces of audio back together can be done manually by selecting the adjacent piece of audio and dragging it over until it snaps to the other piece that was just cut. This can do done much faster. Doing it manually involves deleting the piece of audio you don’t need as well as dragging the adjacent audio over until you have a single uniform waveform.

The shortcut I use for this is Ripple Delete. Ripple Delete not only deletes the piece of audio that you don’t want, but it can shift the adjacent audio in the cut over automatically (as well as other tracks if you’re in a multi-track session). This is a big time saver, because why on earth would you want to manually drag audio from each track over to snap it back into its proper place?

In a multi-track session, using shift + option + command + k, you can make a cut along the insertion point I want on all tracks in that session, and then use Ripple Delete to automatically shift all of the adjacent tracks over to where they need to be from that cut.

multi-track edits

Once you’ve made your edits and have selected the portion of audio you wish to Ripple Delete (remember to select each portion), you can use the keyboard command of shift + delete to complete the edit. You can also go to the Edit > Ripple Delete menu and choose the selected clips option to accomplish the same thing.

ripple delete

Tip 3 – Customize your keyboard shortcuts

There are too many keyboard shortcuts in Adobe Audition CC to enumerate here, however, I encourage you to create your own custom keyboard shortcuts. If you’re coming from another popular program such as Pro Tools or Logic, you may want to map the most common functions to the shortcuts you’ve already built muscle memory around. Once you do that, you can save your shortcuts as a template. In the illustrated example below, you can see I’ve created one called Pro Tools and have mapped the toggle record function to “3” on the numeric keypad.

customize keyboard shortcuts

In the shortcut column, click inside the area and type the command on your keyboard to set the shortcut and then save your changes.

[Tweet “Podcast editing tip: Learning key shortcuts in your favourite DAW dramatically speeds up your process.”]

Coda

In the coming weeks I’ll continue to ease you into some simple yet powerful and time-saving editing shortcuts. The next time you start a project, try using markers and ripple delete. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much time you can save.

Try podcasting on FeedPress

Publishing and uploading podcasts is simple and efficient with FeedPress. Try our new publishing tools on a commitment free 14-day trial and get started today.