How To Do Podcast Interviews - 6 Simple Steps From A Beginner (Post 1 of 4)

I had zero clue what I was doing

I saw a flash sale on Amazon for a Blue Ice Yeti microphone. I bought it right away, because I needed a way to start reconnecting with human beings, having locked myself away for a year.

I still have zero clue what I’m doing.

But I’m learning how to make improvements. And hey, maybe my lessons learned can be helpful for those of you who also aren’t media professionals - just storytellers on a budget looking to establish a digital voice.

This post will be from the point of view of how to learn, start, do, and improve a podcast interview specifically, but you can apply most of the learnings to any podcast structure.

My goal was to start recording:

  • as quickly as possible
  • as little resources as possible
  • as little money as possible
  • as little technical know how as possible

And have a minimum standard of quality.

I’LL break my lessons learned & tips up into 6 steps:

  1. What to talk to people about.

  2. How to talk to them about it.

  3. What microphone & software to start with.

  4. How to organize your recording and interviewing process.

  5. How to edit & store your podcast interviews.

  6. How to distribute and promote your podcast interviews.

I will publish these 6 steps sequentially every two weeks.

As a kickstart, this post includes Steps 1-3.

Step 4, Step 5, and Step 6 will each have their own dedicated blog post.

Note: You Will Screw Up. 

Not if, but when you #fuckup, embrace it, and share your lessons learned and tips with others.

Okay! Let's kick off the First half of our 6 Tips and Steps!


 That's me, looking off into the distance, thinking about how to do a podcast.

That's me, looking off into the distance, thinking about how to do a podcast.


Step 1: What to talk to people about

I wish I had originally started with the following exercise, because it would have helped me reach my Aha! moment much more quickly.

Before you do anything, figure out what you want to talk to people about. All types of criteria can go into this decision depending on your intent, purpose, and goals. One item that must be part of that criteria? You must genuinely take interest in talking about it. Listeners will hear right through disingenuous interest. You will also quickly become tired of the creation process.

Answer these questions to help you figure this out:

  • What books and articles do you currently read? What other media do you currently consume? Why do they pique your interest?
  • What do you personally love to learn about?
  • What do you feel you are an expert in?
  • What makes you emotional? What makes you laugh? What makes you question your beliefs? What affirms your beliefs?
  • When hanging out with colleagues and friends, what conversation topics keep you listening? What gets you to contribute a thought?
  • Do you want to talk about evergreen topics? Seasonal topics? Current event topics?

Review your notes from above and draft in 3 sentences or less:

  1. What the narrative will focus on.
  2. Why the narrative is personally intriguing to you.
  3. What type of listeners will also connect with your point of view.

Example sentences to complete:

Create-Podcast-Topic-Subject-Talk-Human-To-Me-v3.png

Great, now that you have the foundation of your podcast interview and guest conversations, let's figure out HOW you talk to them about it.


Step 2: How to talk to them about it

I wish I didn't originally put so much time into this part, because it really comes down to a balance between art and science. 

Yes, intention goes a long way, but it also takes feng shui 風水. Podcasting requires a balance of science and art, and ability to flow between precision and improvisation. How you talk with your guests about your topic requires intention with all four pieces.

Quickly decide on the following to determine how you want to talk to your podcast interview guests, and also all of the other bells and whistles that will go into the format:

  • Approximately how long do you want each episode? Usually no less than 10 minutes, and no more than 3 hours. This will heavily depend on what you determined in Step 1.
  • Do you want edited or uncut conversations? Do you want prepared questions or go completely freestyle? Somewhere in between?
  • Do you want one guest per podcast? Multiple guests, each with their own recorded conversation? Multiple guests in a group conversation?
  • Do you want to prepare your guests ahead of time, or do you want them to be in the dark about what you're talking about?
  • Are you speaking with the guest as if it's just you two in the room, or will you break the 4th wall?

Start with these questions. Again, don't think through this part too much. The most important thing is to get started as soon as possible, so you have actual recordings, and make creative and technical adjustments from there.

How to get started? Here's my challenge to you:

Based on what you decided above, schedule within TWO WEEKS your first podcast interview.

 Yes, really.

Yes, really.

Now, you have 2 weeks to get your shit together, and stop dismissing your creative energy and dreams. Embrace it!

Find someone you feel comfortable with humiliating yourself in front of. Also, someone who won't mind if the entire recording session goes in the trash.

OKAY! Let's move onto some technical stuff.


STEP 3: What microphone & software to start with

 Protect your investment.

Protect your investment.

I'm writing this section from my personal experience and circumstance.

I came out from a little over a year of no work and using up savings.

Again, my goal was to start recording:

  • as quickly as possible
  • as little resources as possible
  • as little money as possible
  • as little technical know how as possible

And have a minimum standard of quality.

There are many blogs, like the wonderful Audacity to Podcast with a TON of information and options to get you started and building on your podcast.

However, right now, do not try to learn every piece of podcast knowledge possible. Your goal isn't to go down this rabbit hole of endless information just yet, because one of your goals needs to be getting started as quickly as possible. I'm keeping this post VERY SIMPLE to help you accomplish that.


Microphones

 
 Tried & true Blue Yeti USB microphone.

Tried & true Blue Yeti USB microphone.

 Tried & true Blue Snowball Ice USB microphone.

Tried & true Blue Snowball Ice USB microphone.

 

There's a reason podcasters more often than not seek the Blue Yeti USB microphone or the Blue Snowball microphone. They are super easy to use, extremely reliable, and produce great sound quality for being plug & play microphones.

"Why a USB microphone, and not just my laptop?"

Humans are very sensitive to poor audio. Our sense of hearing is extremely powerful - think about when you watch a great looking video, with poor audio. It ruins the experience. Your laptop audio quality, no matter how good the microphone, will not hold up past a few podcast episodes.

"Why not a hand recorder with good microphones?"

Because, a hand recorder that records a minimum level of quality actually costs about the same or more than the plug and play USB microphones. Also, it's hard to edit each voice separately as two tracks.

"Why a USB microphone, and not something with these things?"

Because, if you get a XLR microphone to start, then you have to buy the hand recorder above or a mixer, and learn how to use that as well.

"Oh, right, and I remember my goals are..."

  • as quickly as possible
  • as little resources as possible
  • as little money as possible
  • as little technical know how as possible

"Why are you using two different Blue microphones? Why don't you just use two of the same?"

Because, the way these microphones are engineered make it difficult for recording and editing programs to recognize as 2 separate microphones, so it can record 2 separate tracks. It's important to record as 2 separate tracks (one focused on your voice, one focused on your guest's voice).

In short: Your laptop will think you only have one microphone plugged in.

With the Blue Yeti and Snowball, your laptop will still think it only has one microphone plugged in, but I will show you how to bypass that with a little hack during our next topic: software.


SOFTWARE

 
 Audacity dashboard

Audacity dashboard

 Garage Band dashboard

Garage Band dashboard

 

The two most common recording and editing software used for all levels of podcasting are Garage Band or Audacity.

Why?

Because they are both free.

Garage Band in short, just as most Apple products promise:

  • has a simpler interface
  • can be picked up more quickly

Audacity has a slightly tougher learning curve, but:

  • it's way more powerful
  • can most likely scale better with the technical improvements you want to make down the road

For my guide, I will be using Audacity as the tool, but you will also find most of the features I talk about are also in Garage Band, so you will still be able to follow along.

Choose one to get started with.

Here are the download links for Audacity.

If you don't already have Garage Band on your laptop, it's available here.

Okay! You now have your microphones and your recording software! Let's top it off with other equipment that will keep you organized.


Other Equipment

The following is other equipment you will want to have as soon as possible, most of it is for backing up, just-in-case, protective reasons, like having extra cords.

  • Extras - USB Type A to Type B Cable for Blue Snowball Microphone
  • Extras - USB Type A to Type B Mini Cable for Blue Yeti Microphone
  • At least 2 external hard drives to have multiple backup files
  • A protective carrying case for all of your valuable equipment
  • A microphone sock for the Blue Yeti Mic (it prevents harsh T's and S's
 USB Type A to Type B 

USB Type A to Type B 

 USB Type A to Type B Mini

USB Type A to Type B Mini

 Multiple External Harddrives

Multiple External Harddrives

 Protective Backpack

Protective Backpack

 Microphone Sock

Microphone Sock


I need help! Does anybody know this?

I'm trying to find a USB to Macbook Pro Retina Charger extension/adapter; I want this in case I don't have access to an outlet, and need to plug into a battery pack that I have. If any readers find a good one, tweet at me @talkhumantome.

If you have any affiliate links, I'll update this post with it.


Currently Drafting the Following Posts:

How to organize your recording & interviewing process

How to edit & store your podcast interviews

How to distribute & promote your podcast interviews


You finished Post 1 of 4!

pat yourself on the back and enjoy an episode.