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How to make a podcast

August 2015

Podcast basics

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a short program (such as a talk, interview or music) made in digital format for automatic download over the internet.

What equipment do I need?

You do not need any specialist equipment. You can record a podcast on a smart phone, tablet or digital voice recorder. 

With digital voice recorders, the quality is very dependent on price. Moving above the £50+ mark generally takes you into the range of good quality recorders, and you can spend infinitely more than that if you try.

When I’ve recorded a podcast, what do I do?

  • You could add music and sound effects. There are various websites where these can be downloaded and added. Always check on copyright and publishing rules.
  • You can edit the podcast. There are numerous online free software programmes. With these you can edit, cut and have the ability to add any third party sound effects.
  • You need to encode the podcast. Encoding is the process of compressing a file into an mp3 format. This compression makes it easier and quicker to upload the file to your blog or website.

Making a podcast: some hints

1. Know your audience

  • Who is the podcast for? The local community? Professionals? Older people, children, young people?
  • Which language(s) will the podcast be in? (English, Punjabi, Urdu…?)
  • Keep the language clear and simple.

2. Choose your style

  • Lecture style: ‘I am an expert telling you about…’
  • Story style: ‘I have a story about….’
  • Interview style: ‘Today we’re hearing from…’

3. Choose your tone

  • Serious: this can suit a documentary style (think David Attenborough).
  • Light hearted: this can suit a story telling style (think Ricky Gervais).

4. Organise your content 

  • Organise a beginning, middle and end. 
  • Have a short ‘take home’ message as a conclusion.
  • Be verbally descriptive at all times. For example, ‘I’m (name) and I’m sitting/standing in the (name) building in (place). This morning/afternoon I’m discussing/chatting with (name) …’
  • Will you add background music or sound effects later? If yes, check copyright.

5. Find your voice

  • What’s natural for you? Find a way of speaking that feels comfortable. If you're interviewing, you should also make sure you talk in a way that puts the interviewee at ease.

6. And finally

  • Keep it short!

By Angus McCabe, Third Sector Research Centre and Matt Edwards. Angus and Matt work on Our Bigger Story, a multimedia evaluation of Big Local.

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