I can’t tell you how important it is to remember that everything you do in your podcasting adventure does not have to sound like every other radio or TV show you’ve ever heard. It doesn’t have to have that relentless radio sound and it doesn’t have to have the television infomercial look or sound either. Your podcast can have its own character and sound. It is absolutely possible that it can be unique and different and still use all of the necessary elements of good recording technique and proper audio/video capture and editing expertise.
Even though you are beginner at any of the above mentioned items, you can soon become very proficient at all of the above with a little practice and planning.
First, lets think about the opening of your podcast. Some like to just start talking or reading to present their ideas to their audience. Others like to have an opening made up of a music intro and then do a ‘voice-over’ to introduce their topic for their podcast. If you don’t want to do much of an opening other than talking, that’s fine. In fact, that is probably the easiest way. However, using an opening of some sort will eventually prove itself valuable to you at some time or other as you begin to produce a regular podcast. It is just one thing less you have to be concerned about. Another plus, depending on how you do it, is how it can give your production something your audience can recognize as you. It is sort of like signing your signature to it.
Because of the nature of this article, it is going to be much easier for you to listen to the podcast version rather than read it. Even though this article will contain most of what will be talked about, the examples I use will only be referred to in the article, but you can hear what I am talking about in the podcast version. I want you to actually hear the difference of how using certain techniques can affect your production in positive ways. (Someday, in the very near future, I fully intend to be able to present to you both audio and visual aids to enhance this teaching and learning experience.)
As is the case with many things in producing podcasts and other types of recordings, you never know what kind of impact something will have unless you try it. I now do things I never thought I would because I did try them. After I heard what a difference they made, I became more comfortable with what they added to my productions and looked for ways to make them even better. I still believe there is often a fine line between something that will add a special touch to a recording or detract from it in some way, whether large or small.
In this article and the next two, we are going to talk about three things. The opening of your podcast, the closing of your podcast and the body of your podcast. Although this seems to be a little out of order, there is a method to my approach. The opening and closing don’t have to change as often as the body of the podcast does. The body of your production will change all the time. The openings and closings only change when you want them to. There are ways to keep them from getting stale, but generally, your audience doesn’t mind them sounding the same all the time. It is that signature type of thing I mentioned earlier. It is something they come to recognize you by.
Let’s get started with an opening. You need to decide several things. One possibility is to decide on whether you want to open with just talk and get right in to the message or do you want to have music and do a voice-over? Maybe you want to start with just music and no talking for your opening. Any of these will work. It is something you need to decide to give your production personality and perhaps a glimpse of its character and subject-matter.
Let’s take a listen to my first example. It is one of my first podcasts for this ‘Podcasting Resources’ site. In fact it is episode #0002. I want you to hear several things about it. First I was was trying out some different kinds of equipment and software. Although they performed well, the sound was a bit lacking probably because of the microphone I was using. It just didn’t have the warm sound I was looking for. It sounds a bit ‘scratchy’ and ‘tinny’. (As you listen to the opening of this podcast, I know you will understand what I mean.)
(Play excerpt example of episode #0002.)
See what I mean. Please remember, I was working at the time on ways for you to simply get started but not make a major investment of cash. I was looking at ways people could get started podcasting “on the cheap”.
Now let’s move to an opening of another one. This would be one I started with music and ‘voice-over’. Now admittedly, I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, but I was trying to keep costs down and keep everything legal as far as copyright matters were concerned. (That’s right, it was me playing my guitar and using a bit of music I wrote. It is just a way of demonstrating how to keep costs down and still use a music and voice over opening.)
(Play excerpt of episode #0001.)
See, there is a difference in doing it that way. I didn’t spend any money and I did turn out a podcast, (although perhaps not of the best quality.)
The next example is where I switched to using some free music from Mike Stewart, “theinternetaudioguy”. No matter how you look at it, music produced and made for this purpose is better than something you just sit in front of your computer and throw together. (Yes, I am admitting I just quickly made something to use in episode #0001.) Anyway, let’s take a quick listen to the opening of episode #0017.
(Play excerpt from episode #0017)
This one was a little bit better to me. It just ‘feels’ better. To me, it kind of settles the atmosphere preparing the listener for what’s to come. Yes, I know it’s kinda ‘laid-back’, but then I’m kinda that way myself. Your’s doesn’t have to sound like this. It can be as soft, or as loud and wild, as you want it to be.
Now for the final example of this article. It is one I have pre-made for those times I want to be different. I haven’t used it yet, but, I will some day and I will do it soon. I intend to mix things up a bit, now and again, but I don’t want to mess with the original signature stuff. Lets take a listen, now.
(Play excerpt from Podcast open 2)
This one gives you an example of how different music with basically the same ‘voice-over’ does make a difference in the ‘feel’ of the opening. What I am trying to get across is that you can make an opening in any number of ways and still have an effective production.
So far, all of my editing is done with the program “Audacity”. It is a great program and, I repeat, it is a free download. It is very versatile and turns out great product. The music I use at the present is from Mike Stewart, “theinternetaudioguy” and another bit that he and friends have turned out from “MichaelandMike.com”. It is amazing the quality of stuff they make available for little or no cost. Yes, I know they have stuff available that costs and I have invested in some of it, but . . . well . . . just click on the links here and find out for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
This is just the beginning of what you can do with a podcast.
One way to discover what is best for your’s is to try out some of your ideas for openings and see how they work. You don’t even have to totally rely on one idea. Try several different ways and see how it ‘feels’ to you. Maybe you can even bounce your ideas off a few of your friends and see what they think. Now remember, when I say, “see how it feels”, I am talking about how it comes across to you and whether or not it grabs your attention and makes you want to listen. Chances are, if you like it, others will too.
See ya next time . . .