Cut It Out – A guide to editing your podcast
Podcasting used to offer an almost immediate reaction to what was happening in your world. You could get your phone out wherever you were, record a conversation, monologue or the sound of an event and then upload it to iTunes. Depending on how fast your internet connection was, your thoughts and reacts could be ready to download to anyone subscribed to your podcast within about 20 minutes. But technology has raced ahead, and now you can broadcast that same raw footage live to people on your existing social networks and instantly make it available to anyone who missed it. So with the advent of Periscope, Facebook and YouTube live, how can your podcast compete?
Given the current mechanics of podcasting as a platform, you cannot beat them for speed and live reporting. But what you can do is outshine them in terms of the quality of product you put out. I’m talking about editing. You don’t need any specialist skills, just a little bit of free software and pen and paper. Having gone to the effort of making a podcast, you want people to listen to it, and ideally you want them not just to listen to that episode, but to subscribe and listen to all the shows you will make. And just like selling a house, taking the time to tidy up and add a little spit and polish can really sell it to the public. Using some free, simple software (suggestions below) you can edit the audio and move blocks around in the same way that you may use your office software to change the order of paragraphs in a document.
Listen back to what you’ve recorded, and make some notes as you go along. (If you’re not prepared to listen back through it, then how do you expect someone who didn’t make it to make the effort?) Write the times where the really great or interesting things happen, or where the conversation moves off topic, or your guest says that thing which could get you both in legal hot water.
Now that you’ve done that, you have a clearer perspective of the material, and also what fits your show, and what is unnecessary. This is the point at which I tell you to be brutal, and to start cutting. It is important to remember that people don’t consume podcasts the way they listen to the radio. There’s a lot of media competition for your listener’s attention, so if they downloaded your show because it’s about something they are into, then give them what they are into – straight away. You don’t need to ask your guest how they are or talk about what you’re going to do next Thursday. Cut to the chase.
It’s ok if you get a little precious here and your pride prevents you from cutting that hilarious anecdote about the squirrel and your dad’s cycling shorts, but if it’s actually got nothing to do with your Duvet Stitching podcast topic, then does it need to be there? You don’t have to delete it. Just stick it in a folder and at a later date you can compile them all into a holiday special directors cut/out-takes episode. If you’re really not sure whether or not to cut something, try and remember this: the people who are listening won’t miss what they didn’t know was there.
Audacity is free for both PC and Mac, and GarageBand works just as well on your iPad or Mac, and they are both simple to use. For the more advanced editor, our current favourite (though it’s a little pricey) is Adobe Audition CC – pictured above illustrating what the latest episode of “On The Left Side” looks like. This is a rather extreme editing example, with nearly a hundred edits in less than 15 minutes!