Remote podcasting recording
Remote interviews for a podcast were always possible, but the realities of COVID and social distancing have made it more popular than ever. Technology such as Zoom, Skype, Teams, and Google Hangouts is so commonplace that more podcasts have added a video element.
It can make the discussion flow more naturally between the host and the guest if they can react to each other’s facial expressions, and the videos often make for great “behind the scenes” footage for social media.
But remote video recordings also bring about unique challenges that a face-to-face recording session doesn’t.
Why your remote podcast interviews need a pre-flight checklist
If you lead marketing efforts on a small, scrappy team, chances are you care a lot about marketing, and you understand how branding works. Unfortunately, sometimes we forget about that when it comes to a guest’s experience on our company’s podcast.
“Your podcast is a reflection of your company and of your company’s brand,” Justin Brown, co-founder of Motion and co-host of Recorded Content, states.
“The remote podcasting experience your guest has with your show is really an extension of your brand.”
“As a podcaster, you want guests to really have the best experience possible because that’s what they’re going to talk about with other people in your industry,” Tristan Pelligrino, co-founder of Motion and co-host of Recorded Content, adds.
This means you can’t just invite a guest on your podcast and hit record. Having a pre-flight checklist helps you prevent problems during recording or post-production, improve sound quality, enhance video quality, avoid potentially embarrassing mistakes, and support the guest rather than correcting them on the spot.
Tristan states how your pre-flight checklist needs two key components:
1. Inform your guest about the remote podcast recording and establish expectations
2. Proactively prevent technical issues
Share your plan with your podcast guests ahead of time (and probably more than once)
Even for guests familiar with podcasts, every podcast operates differently. And there are a wide range of remote recording options to get the job done.
To make your guest comfortable, Justin and Tristan recommend giving the guest a heads up about how your podcast works, whether you do it via email or a conversation.
Brown recommends creating a Guest Guidelines document with simple language. This helps make sharing all these elements with guests easier for you. Save it as a PDF so it’s easy to send via email, but you’re probably going to want to outline them in the body of an email as well.
“In the email that I send over with [the guest guide] as an attachment], I send in bold the things that are absolutely mandatory that somebody knows so that I know at least my odds are higher that they’ll review that,” Justin says. He always bolds that the guest needs decent internet speed and headphones with a mic.
Here are a couple of things recommended to include within your guest guidelines document:
Share what your podcast is about
This can be as simple or as detailed as you like, but make sure you don’t assume the guest is a regular listener of your podcast and knows what your focus is. Send them your theme statement or your official series description.
Identify the core idea of what you want to discuss during the interview
You want to give your guest the chance to reflect and prepare before the podcast recording so they are on the same page. Sharing the central conflict is more important than sharing a list of questions. “That guarantees that the guest comes to your recording session and they have that mindset right there,” Tristan says.
Provide a description of what the entire experience looks like
What happens after the guest appears on the show? What’s the editing process like? What additional content is created from the podcast (mp3 file, video files, images, etc.)? Where will it be released?
Sharing this information “gets [guests] excited. It gives them an indication as to, ‘Hey, if I invest time in this recording session, I appear on this podcast, I have a good idea of what it’s going to look and feel like afterward,’” Tristan says.
Also, bonus points if you can point to other interviews with guests and reference specific episodes.
Layout the logistics of the recording session
Will there be an HD video component? Will the entire scheduled time be used for recording? Knowing the details of your remote setup helps a guest feel more at ease.
Confirm what platform you’ll use for recording
Letting your guest know about the remote recording setup doesn’t guarantee they’ll have experience with your specific software option, but it might take some of the edge off if they’ve been in similar remote recording situations. At the very least, they can check out the popular podcast recording software you’ve selected and maybe watch a quick demo.
Identify the necessary equipment
At the bare minimum, your guests need a strong internet connection (at least 30 MGB per second), a dedicated microphone (or a good built-in mic), and a pair of headphones to participate in your remote recording setup. These three things will save your guest headaches and they’ll save your team time in post-production. If they don’t have access to the equipment themselves, consider mailing them a package with everything.
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Be proactive with your remote podcast pre-flight checklist
It’s important to make a bulleted list that you consistently run through before you start recording a remote podcast. A consistent list is key to getting the best audio quality and video quality from your remote recording tools.
According to Justin, when he’s troubleshooting an issue with remote recording software, it can come off as correcting the guest, which can rub them the wrong way. ”Instead of ‘Your internet seems slow,’ [I’ll say] ‘Hey, I’m going through my process, and your internet’s speed seems like it might be a little slow. Can we move your computer?’”
Here’s a specific breakdown of what Tristan includes in his own pre-flight checklist:
Confirm a stable internet connection
If you are recording your podcast with video and audio, you’re going to need a strong internet connection. The audio quality and video quality from remote recording apps is largely dependent upon the internet connection when you’re operating in a remote environment. Without a stable internet connection, you can have all kinds of issues. And you may not be able to clean up the issues in post-production (even if you do have a backup recording to the cloud), which makes you and your company’s podcast look unprofessional.
“Nope. 5 Mbps of internet won’t cut it.”
Close any unnecessary browser windows and turn off any desktop notifications
The remote recording process is taxing on your computer. So if you can shut down a lot of your programs, you’ll reduce the load on your operating system and create a smoother recording environment.
Test your microphone and headphones and have the guest do the same
Just because you have a high-quality microphone doesn’t mean it’s the one your podcast recording software is using. By testing the recording equipment and your audio recording levels, it’ll help eliminate issues with audio quality you may not be able to clean up in post-production.
If you have a video component, check what’s in the frame of your camera
You don’t want to record a video and then find out you can’t use it because there’s something inappropriate in the background. You also don’t want anything distracting in the background, like the guest’s kids making faces or a lot of clutter. You also want to avoid having the remote guest in front of a big bright window, which can cause a silhouette effect.
Restate what the episode will be about to keep you and your guest focused
Whether your guest knows the show or not, you can keep this simple: just ask if they have any questions about anything from the guest guidelines or if they’ve thought of any questions since you last talked about the show.
Confirm the guest’s name, company, title, and pronunciation of everything
There is nothing worse than recording an entire show and realizing you got a fundamental detail wrong or mispronounced the guest’s name the whole time. Not only can that be difficult to go back and fix, but it makes you look unprofessional and is not a good reflection on your brand.
Ask your guest if they have any questions
This is a great place to end your pre-flight checklist because it gives the guest a chance to ask a question about anything you may have forgotten to mention
"Houston, we have a problem" - it's okay to reschedule your remote podcast recording session
If your pre-flight checklist reveals a snag with the remote recording setup, hopefully, you can address it quickly and get back to recording. But if you can’t, don’t force it.
Troubleshooting can drain the excitement out of both you and your guest, especially if it takes a while. You don’t want to limit yourself (or your guest) to a 15-minute conversation when you’ve booked an hour. You don’t want to do it when you are both frustrated from troubleshooting either.
“I don’t care how much you love technology,” Justin says. “It’s not fun to try to figure out why something isn’t working, especially when you’re on the clock.”
Not only does rescheduling allow you both time to take a breath and re-center, sometimes it brings a sense of humor to the conversation when you do get to record. “It’s good for a laugh,” Justin says.
“Don’t be afraid to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to cut our losses today’” and reschedule, Justin urges. In the long run, it will probably lead to better content for you, and it shows your guest that you care about them and their experience on your show, which leads to an overall better interaction with you and your company’s brand.
Remote podcasting should be fun for your guest and your company
Regardless of what you include in your pre-flight checklist, remember that being a guest on your company’s podcast lets the guest take a peak behind the curtain. When you take a lot of care with your remote recording setup, it’ll demonstrate how much you care about your guest’s experience and they’ll get a positive connection with your brand.
Who knows, maybe when they post about their appearance on social media, they’ll share how impressed they were with your company, and you’ll gain some new connections. Sometimes, you can’t beat the power of word-of-mouth advertising.
Want to see how other B2B marketers use remote podcast interviews?
Recorded Content is a show for small, scrappy marketing teams who are looking to launch & grow a successful B2B podcast. In each episode, we provide stories on how to overcome the challenges of launching, running and growing a show. We tackle issues with technology, content marketing, distribution and more. We help you become a B2B podcasting hero with an amazing show.
Written by Tristan Pelligrino
Tristan Pelligrino is the Co-Founder of Motion. He’s a serial entrepreneur who started his career as a consultant with large IT companies such as PwC, IBM and Oracle. After getting his MBA, he started and grew one of the fastest video production companies in the country – which was listed on the Inc. 5000. Tristan now enjoys leading the content marketing strategies of some of the most innovative B2B technology companies in the country. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook.