Podcast Playbook: 5 Types of Podcast Recording

About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.

Experiment to Improve

Experiment. Try different formats.

Think of Podcasting as Agile Storytelling.

Define: Agile Storytelling

Agile Storytelling – you don’t need a finished book to have a story worth telling. The best stories are journeys which engage and invite the audience to take part, evolving as they add key talking points and refine their thought architecture. agile storytelling

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However you get started in Podcasting, don’t stop there. Part of our work at the Podcast Agency is helping Podcast Clients broaden the horizons of what’s possible in their business storytelling.

After producing over 1000 podcast episodes, this is what I’ve found. Here are 5 Formats to explore:

Format #1: One on One Podcasts

Some people get started doing remotely others face to face.

One-on-one is the easiest way to find your start as a Minimum Viable Podcast.

That’s why I encourage our Podcast Clients creating B2B Podcasts to focus on One-on-One as a start.

One-on-one is the most common form of podcast, and also the most abused.

It’s easy therefore it allows everybody to get in the game without much thought. I’m all for democratizing media. It’s like Betamax, MTV and music in the 1980s or the first web pages in the 90s. How beautiful they were with their crappy layouts or $50 videos. This is cool, podcasting is just getting started .

However, the mistake most podcasters make when holding a one-to-one podcast is turning it into an interview. Podcasts aren’t interviews, they are conversations. Don’t send questions beforehand.

Here’s a good example of what I think a one-to-one podcast should look and sound like: the Tony Fernandes Podcast.

My advice for podcasters is use a bullet point running order which you share with the guest but don’t be afraid to indulge the subject. If your guest says something really interesting, don’t be afraid to indulge. Go down the rabbit hole rather than worry about steamrolling the conversation to your next question.

TIPS

– Skype / Zoom are good tools to get you started but if you want to take your podcasts to the next level start recording iN person.
– Tell stories. Focus on conversations not interviewing.

Format #2: Group Podcasts

I love group podcasts, especially when the chemistry between your guests is good.

You have the ability to create the magic – that sweet spot where you are giving the listeners something they are not part of these days – real conversation.

Group podcasts can become those “campfire” conversations that don’t exist in our lives anymore.

I’ve heard podcasts done in groups with just 2 mics and they sound terrible (I did that in the early days and learned the hard way). The reality is that if you want to organize a group podcast you’ll need a mixer, which means you’ll also have to upgrade from USB to XLR mics, which means more money.

Fortunately, there are a lot of great apps to facilitate group podcasting today with the basic entry app being Zoom, but you can also consider Squadcast and Riverside as better options.

TIPS:

– Set some homework for your group before the show. Eg bring a story to share.
– Rather than run a group session like a boring conference panel session where everyone gets asked a question one by one indulge good answers. Go deep with one guest. Encourage guests to talk to each other.
– Lead by example, offering short answers so your guests know it’s okay to offer short responses alongside longer ones rather than everyone thinking they have to say their piece conference style to get noticed.

Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

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Format #3: On the Street Podcasts

I’ve podcasted in cafes, on the road, at night markets in Asia even for Asia Tech Podcast and client gigs like AirAsia. Street podcasts with the right equipment are amazing. You capture what I call the “soundscape” that a good podcast should be. The key with outside podcasting is getting the levels right. You need the background noise to be audible enough to add to the rich soundscape but not too loud it distracts the conversation.

Define: Soundscapes

Soundscapes – Podcasts are a canvas for your imagination. With the help of a good Podcast Agency you can create engaging audio content using established audio engineering techniques like transitions, music, soundbites, stingers, trailers and drops. Your goal is to create an engaging story, to co-create a narrative with all the team, not to deliver dry interviews.

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We recorded a podcast sitting outside Starbucks in McDonald’s in Thailand with 2 guests – one a singer, one an acoustic guitarist. When we hit record, the heavens opened up and it began to rain. We thought of waiting until the rain passed but went with it, you can actually hear the rain in the background and I think it added to the feeling of that scene.

For On the Street, you’ll need a mobile recoding studio. The Zoom H6 is a great starting point but I’d recommend not relying on its internal mics and adding a good set of lavalier or headset mics to the mix to get the best control of quality.

TIPS:

– Storyboard your podcasts
– Get good equipment. A Zoom H6 plus studio headsets is a good starting point.

Format #4: On Location Podcasts

You can record a podcast at a client office, at an exhibition hall, at a coworking space. I’ve recorded them all. The key here is understanding acoustics. There is a big difference between listening to the noise in a coworking space and recording a podcast in a coworking space. In the first instance, you are a passive listener. In the second, active. As a passive listener you filter out 95% of the sensory stimuli at any given moment (neuroscientists call this “gating”). But when you’re podcasting, you’re using equipment to pick up all the noise indiscriminately – coffee machines, Whatsapp notifications from 2 desks down, and the dreaded AC (a problem here in Asia for sure.)

The biggest challenge you’re going to find in this situation is mic technique.

Most of your guests won’t know how to speak into a microphone. They’ll sit back from it and that will pick up a lot of noise. Or they’ll speak normally rather than into the mic. To help with this we give everyone headsets so they can monitor their own voice and the conversation.

18 Places I’ve Recorded a Podcast:

  1. On an Airplane (see below)
  2. Rice field in Bali at sunrise
  3. Nightmarket in Bangkok (eating Scorpions)
  4. Singapore Changi Airport
  5. On the Exhibition Floor
  6. Client Offices
  7. Coworking Space Meeting Rooms
  8. At Cafes
  9. At Home
  10. In a Thai Taxi
  11. Hotel
  12. Kuala Lumpur Backstreets
  13. AirAsia RedQ
  14. In a Park in Singapore
  15. In a South Indian Temple
  16. At a Hawker Centre
  17. At Starbucks in the Rain
  18. In a Mosquito Infested Tropical Garden

Format #5: On an Airplane Podcasts

I’m proud to say we did this for AirAsia and it worked out great.

Of course, you can’t reproduce our studio sound quality but you’re trying to capture the soundscape of the airplane itself. A whole podcast on an airplane might be too much because the noise would get tiring for the listener. But, as a “scene” for your podcast coupled with a clear voiceover/intro, it will add a depth to your story.

I call them soundscapes. We record podcasts as scenes. A good podcast May have 2 or 3 scenes even if it’s with the same guests in the same building.

With the Xero on Air Podcast for example we record in 3 different locations in their office. One sitting down, one standing up at the cafe, one looking out the office window across the Singapore skyline.

When we recorded Asia Tech Podcast Bangkok we recorded the scenes on an airplane, in a coworking center and at a night market.

With the right podcast equipment and a little imagination there are no limitations to the stories you can tell.

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Podcasts: Get our Guide for Corporates

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About Author Graham Brown

Graham Brown is the founder of Pikkal & Co – performance communication agency responsible for producing Award Winning Podcasts for business brands. Clients including McKinsey, Julius Baer, IBM and the Singapore Government. Investors and Advisors from Netflix, Intel, Apple and iQiYi. He is a published Amazon author covering human communication technologies, marketing and branding. He has produced over 1,000 podcast episodes and webinar shows with notable shows including the Tony Fernandes Podcast. Graham is a graduate in Artificial Intelligence and is currently leading Pikkal & Co to use Machine Learning and Conversation Analytics to automate the heavy lifting of communication to elevate the human touch.
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