After years of podcasting I have developed a simple checklist for how to prepare for the moment I sit down to do my show.
I have a “To-do” list that must be completed before pressing the big red button, especially when interviewing someone over the internet.
Do you have a pre-recording checklist for podcasting?
Does it look like this?
Unplug the Laptop
You may be raising an eyebrow wondering “Why in the world would Steve unplug his computer?”
I have recorded podcast episodes on desktop PCs, Dell laptops, and my main CCM (Content Creation Machine) from 2010 – 2014, a MacBook Pro.
It doesn't matter what the machine is – sometimes there is a buzz that develops in the background. Simply unplugging my laptop while recording always eliminates the buzzing caused by the power source. Always.
Bob Marx of the “Selling More by Talking Less” podcast (now podfaded) took this advice in 2013 and solved his problem.
Speaking for 15 minutes or longer can cause dryness of mouth.
Having a glass of water for the occasional sip helps to keep the ol' chops lubricated.
You could substitute water for any beverage of your choice.
I would prefer soda over water because of the sugar-rush but the caffeine tends to make my throat “pop” and alcoholic beverages tend to slur my speech.
Many podcasters will down a Red Bull before recording to get their energy level up. What has worked for you?
No duh, right? There is nothing worse than being on the mic and then having to excuse yourself when Mother Nature calls. There's no way around it.
I also remind my interviewees to consider going to the bathroom before starting to record, but most of my guests are smart – they already visited the loo and not one person has ever had to excuse themselves to go tinkle.
Silence your Device!
Have you been in a meeting or at the movies and been interrupted by someone's cell phone going off? Having an unexpected call in the middle of a recording will totally de-rail your show. I recommend putting your smartphone in Airplane Mode, put it on vibrate, or shutting it off completely. The advantage of Airplane Mode is that you can still use a smartphone as a clock, timer, or alarm. Having your phone on vibrate gives you more flexibility such as using apps that need to connect to the internet (but then you probably should have been doing more show prep, right?) But if you can get by without a smartphone then having a clock in your room is all you need – just shut your phone off.
Tip: If you choose to keep your phone on vibrate then set it on a cloth or completely different surface area. Avoid setting your smartphone on the same surface as you microphone stand so as to keep vibrations from making it into the recording.
Print your Outline
I'm tempted to use a digital copy of my show's outline (useful tools like WorkFlowy or even Text Edit) but they require some of the computer's resources. Even though they use very little power, this could impede the recording or interview feed from VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol like Skype). Having a printed copy comes in really handy, including the opportunity to jot down notes without my listeners (or interviewee) hear the clackity-clack of a keyboard. “No, I'm not on FaceBook while recording this interview with you Mr. Important Guest.”
Do you have an outline ready before recording? If not, how in the world do you get by?
How many times has this happened to me? Two times. Yes, this has happened to me only twice. How do I know that? It is because the moment I realize my digital recorder or computer isn't recording is the moment I begin sweating profusely and try to figure out a way to tell my guest I've been wasting his/her time. “That's really great stuff Mr. Important Guest. Thanks for practicing with me. Now I'm going to hit record and we'll start doing this for real.”
GAH! Don't take this one for granted – pressing the record button is the most important item on anyone's pre-recording checklist for podcasting.
Do you have other pre-recording items on your podcasting checklist that I did not mention? Please leave them in the comments below and save me some embarrassment!