With the deadline for the World Nomads Travel Podcast scholarship less than two months away, we thought it was time to write a guide to producing a short audio feature. There’s a focus on the workflow and techniques which will help the scholarship applicant tell their story.
Technically, a podcast is audio or video delivered through RSS feed enclosures. Podcasts are made from short audio shows and this guide is a great resource for budding podcasters.
Every podcast tells a story. Storyboarding is the process of dreaming through possible approaches and structures. What angle are you going to take? What will you talk about first? How will this segue into the next section?
With a paper and pen, list the main sections of your podcast. Consider:
- Catching interest
- Introduction to topic
- Outlining your show
- Main points
- Introducing and thanking guests
- Interview segments
- Closing ideas
- Wrapping up
You must guide the listeners through the information, making sure everything’s logical and interesting. Decide on the main thrust of your story and the narrative structure before you imagine listening to it yourself.
You might want to re-arrange the order of your show several times and see how it changes the effect.
The storyboarding process also helps you decide on your interviewees. By knowing your approach, you can get the right person for each spot and ask them the right questions to help exposit your story.
Anything you publish should be tightly produced, but with only three minutes for your scholarship application, you need to plan carefully.
Recording an interviewFirst attempts at recording an interview with someone can be a nerve-wracking experience. Preparing well and choosing a friendly interviewee are good strategies for a successful operation.
Now that you’ve storyboarded your show, you know the kind of questions you need to ask, and which person is going to help tell your story. If they’re a friend, give them a call and sort things out. If not, contact your interviewee in a professional manner explaining your project, the questions you’d like to ask, and the amount of time you need. This podcast is likely to be an exposition rather than investigative journalism, so the courtesy of sending interview questions ahead of time makes your interviewee more relaxed and can lead to clearer answers.
Many podcasters record interviews over Skype and, depending on your recording equipment and internet connection, this is likely to be a good tool for you to use as well. Few people have field microphones, but many computer users have access to a USB headset. There’s little I can tell you about the technical side of skype recording which isn’t covered in this slideshow:
In many countries it is a legal requirement to alert the interviewee to the fact they are being recorded. I recommend dealing with that by saying something like this:
I’m just turning on the recording software…For the record, [name], you understand this interview is being recorded and you allow me to use it in future publications.
Interviewing people in person leads to its own technical challenges, mainly the ambient noise of the recording environment. Whatever you do, use an output on your microphone/recorder to monitor the sound quality of the interview as you go. Having a padded in-ear headphone in one ear could save your interview.
ScriptingThe quotes you’ve gathered during your interview along with further research or reflection you’ve done may cause you to change your direction or structure. That’s why we’ve avoided scripting until now.
Taking your storyboard, interview recording and a glass of wine, it’s time to draft a final script. Some people like to have a word-by-word teleprompt script, others prefer to tightly script some parts and leave others as talking point to launch from. Whatever you choose, read it out loud several times and make sure it flows. What looks good on paper doesn’t always sound great in spoken form.
Come back next week when we look at the practicalities of recording your podcast and doing post-production work. I’d recommend subscribing by email or RSS to make sure you don’t miss out.
Don’t forget to check out the WorldNomads Travel Podcast Scholarship tips to help you on your way to a trip to Guatemala.