If you’re looking to compete in the din of today’s podcasting market, the importance of editing your podcast cannot be overemphasized. An edit can make or break your podcast in terms of losing your audience and overall clarity of message. Keep a tight rein on your production with these tips for podcast editing:
Tell a Story
It doesn’t matter if you have three people on a mic talking about education, a podcast interviewing guests, or informing people how to make or do something, the narrative – or story you tell – is important. This is the story that you as a podcaster, are telling through the questions you ask, the edits that you make, and the information that you present. Know your creative voice. Be consistent.
Developing your narrative voice to capture interest and focus storytelling is a life-long developmental pursuit. How we tell our stories is what sets us apart from other podcasts.
Reduce Personal POV
The first thing I look for when editing any podcast is personal bias on the part of the host. This typically comes up more when interviewing. As a means of relating to the interviewee, a host will share his own thoughts and stories. This is great practice in the course of an interview, as it makes the interviewee more at ease.
The listener, on the other hand, is more likely to want to hear what your guest has to say on a topic. Editing helps you zoom the conversation on the most interesting and salient points your guest has to say. These are the things that will best resonate with your audience.
Cut Unrelated Tangents
An important interviewing skill is the ability to open up guests to a conversation. The more interested a guest is in participating in a conversation, the less they are bound to give rehearsed and manufactured responses. The drawback to this style of interviewing is that it can lead to a number of unrelated tangents. Often, these tangents are whimsical, but esoteric and distracting.
We have limited attention span from our listeners. For them to stay focused, we, as editors, need to keep the conversation lively, focused and entertaining. Removing tangents in the conversation will make a dramatic difference in the clarity of your message.
Transitions, Whooshes, and Stings (Oh my)
Clearly defined segments are important to the clarity of a podcast. Some podcasts are only a single segment long. Most commonly, however, podcasts tend to feature an intro, the main feature (or features), and an outro.
Transitions are extremely important in keeping your audience aware of the segments. If one segment runs into the next and that into the next, it becomes more difficult to distinguish the information.
A transition can be as simple as a second or two of silence, a whoosh or other short sound effect, or a musical transition like a sting. The important thing is to be consistent, so your listeners can follow what’s going on.
If your audience is listening to your mouth noises, they are not thinking about your content. If the listener is focused on filler words, like “um” and “uh” and “like” and other paralanguage, they are not thinking about your message.
If you or your guest are stumbling through an interview with repeated words, stumbles, stutters, and trips, then it’s really important to edit out these distractions when they prevent clarity.
The most important thing is the story – the narrative that you are trying to tell. It is important to weave the narrative by editing the distractions out
The Host Never Stumbles
It would be unbearable and unrealistic to remove all of the stumbles and stutters from guests. It is, however, important that your host transmits confidence and clarity. The host’s voice is our guide on this journey and while a little fallibility is admirable, we want our guides to be reasonably credible.
When editing, I take a lot of time to make sure the host is speaking clearly and getting to the meat of an idea without stumbling or restarts. Think of restarts like an edit of a sentence. Splice those restarts together into the most perfect version of the question or statement.
Editing is your opportunity to make your program clear and distraction-free. Your narrative and your voice are defined in the editing process. Don’t shortcut editing! Creating interest, focusing a discussion, and eliminating stumbles and distractions help reduce listener fatigue and keep your audience coming back for more great material.