Podcasting is a great way to explore your thoughts on a topic, deliver your message and gain followers. However, all this depends on you knowing how to edit a podcast – if your editing is choppy or nonexistent, you’ll have a hard time getting people to listen! Luckily, podcast editing is actually pretty straightforward if you know what you’re doing. Here are our 12 best podcast editing tips to help you get it right.
🏆 Setting yourself up for success
If you want listeners to love your podcast, you should take the time to edit thoroughly. You can set yourself up for editing success by using good recording equipment and being well-prepared with your material! Staying mindful of the editing process as you’re recording makes it much easier to polish your podcast later.
1. Invest in top-notch equipment
For starters, you’ll want to invest in the best possible equipment. There are many options for recording equipment and editing software, so this part can be a little overwhelming – but you won’t regret doing the research before you start. For some great primers on microphones and sound editing equipment, check out our equipment reviews:
- Rode NT2-A vs. NT1-A – Which One Is Best for You?
- Rodecaster Pro Review: Powerful Sound Mixing for Your Podcast
- Shure MV7 Review – A Direct-Input Mic for Easy Podcasting
Consider which types of recording and editing each tool is best suited for, the learning curves involved, and the price points. Of course, hiring a podcast studio means all this is taken care of for you! At Premiere Podcast Studios, you can engage the services of sound engineers and even learn some podcast editing tips as you watch them work.
2. Adjust your levels before you start
It sounds obvious, but always check the sound levels before you record your podcast. Do a few sound tests to ensure that you and your guests can be heard clearly and at the right volume. You might also consider recording in multitrack if you have one or more guests to make editing more straightforward.
You’ve got to get into “the sweet spot” of audio quality, says One World Radio presenter Adam K. “The sweet spot is not distorted, not too quiet, not too spacey,” he says. “However you can, try to move yourself into that sweet spot, regardless of the equipment you’re using. The room helps; better quality equipment helps.
“But it’s not just about the equipment – it’s how you use it. And the more you use that equipment, the more you get to understand it. You start to understand how you sound when you’re close to the mic, further away, and so on. Practice really makes perfect in this scenario.”
3. Use good mic technique while recording
Employing professional mic techniques while recording a podcast is also helpful. This isn’t just about technical adjustments, which is why we’ve made it a separate tip! You’ll want to speak with clarity and at a relaxed pace, practising until you reach the desired tone for your podcast. “Good mic technique,” Adam K says, “is not about what you’ve got, but how you use it.”
You should also maintain good posture as you’re recording – believe it or not, this will help you come across as more confident and professional, even if you’re not filming. Finally, remember to include headphones in your recording setup, so you can hear how you sound as you’re talking. This way, you can adjust your tone and pacing as needed.
4. Tap and pause as a form of “cutting”
How long does it take to edit a podcast? Much of this depends on how edit-friendly you make your recording. One simple yet brilliant editing tactic is to tap the mic and pause for a few seconds each time you need to edit something out! This gives you a clear “sound spike” stopping point when you’re editing later.
🎧 Podcast editing tips
How do you add that all-important polished edge to your work? Keeping your message at the forefront, carefully selecting your editing software and honing your own skills will all help you turn your raw podcast material into episodes that shine.
5. Decide on a narrative thread
Before you begin editing (and ideally before you record your podcast), you must decide what narrative you want to convey in each episode. You should already have a defined purpose or theme for your podcast, of course, but you’ll get even more granular during the episode editing process.
Think about how each episode contributes to your overall message and how you’ll keep people engaged throughout the season. For example, you may want to set up an important question or idea for listeners to contemplate in an early episode, then present a conclusion later on. Try to give your podcast both single-episode arcs and full-season arcs, complete with a bit of suspense.
“Paint pictures, tell stories, give anecdotes – people need to be able to imagine what’s happening in their minds,” says broadcast journalist Arron Armstrong, on creating a strong narrative. “You need to guide them on this journey that you’re taking together.”
Indeed, whether your podcast format is an informal conversation or a carefully structured story, you should think about all this (and maybe even write up an outline) before you dive into editing. This will make it easier to decide what to cut and what to keep.
6. Choose your DAW software
Your choice of Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software makes a huge difference to your podcast’s level of quality and professionalism. Garageband (for Mac) and Pro Tools are rated highly as free tools in this genre, especially if you have concerns about how much it costs to edit a podcast.
You’ll need to invest a bit of time and effort in learning to use these tools, but it will be worth it. And again, if you’re feeling iffy about your podcast editing skills, save yourself the stress by booking a podcast studio with engineers to help you through the editing process!
7. Edit carefully, at regular speed
Though it can be tempting to listen at 2x speed to save time while editing, don’t do it. You won’t get a true sense of how the recording sounds, and your levels can end up sounding really off. You also don’t want to make unnecessary or accidental cuts, which can happen when listening at high speed – so just play it safe, listen at regular speed and give your podcast the attention it deserves.
8. Follow the correct production order
In terms of how you proceed with editing, Adam K recommends a “production chain” of 1) addition of detail and clarity, 2) background noise reduction and then 3) compression to glue it all together.
He’d recommend using the Rodecaster Pro for its de-esser tool, background noise reduction tool, and Aural Exciter tool. The Aural Exciter in particular “adds a lot of space – you can feel the sound dynamics change.” Not every recording requires aural excitement, Adam notes. “In a professional studio, the room adds resonance for you. But if it’s a flat room, dead as you like, you could put on the Aural Exciter to help.
“This is the production chain: what do you put on first, what do you put on last, to optimise the sound quality? That’s what editing is all about, really – getting the chain right.”
9. Don’t over-edit – and ask for help if needed
While editing, you’ll want to remove unnecessary noises, “um’s” or big pauses from your podcast. However, try to strike the balance of keeping your presentation or conversation flowing naturally. Listeners want to hear your message in a way that’s attractive and relatable to them, not overly polished and artificially smoothed.
All that said, if you’re struggling to make your podcast sound the way you want it to, it’s never a bad idea to ask for help. This is especially helpful for identifying your own aural blind spots, Adam K says.
“Sometimes when you edit your own stuff, you’re oblivious to things you hear all the time,” he says. “So in your early days of making a podcast or working with audio, try editing your audio – then send it to someone else who’s been editing for a while and see what they take out.”
You can call on one of your friends or colleagues who works with audio – or even better, get a professional engineer to help you with production at a studio like Premiere Podcast Studios.
✨ Add unique finishing touches
Our last section here is on wrapping up your podcast with unique finishing touches. Indeed, when you consider your favourite podcasts, they probably have distinctive intros, outros, music and other additional sound effects. Needless to say, you’ll want to emulate these effects in your own podcast!
10. Create a strong intro and outro
The very start and very end of your podcast are the signature bits that make your work unique and identifiable. To that end, put some thought into what they’ll sound like and how they’ll connect to your key theme(s)!
Listen to podcasts similar to yours for inspiration – even just a few recognisable notes to bookend your podcast could do the job. Once you have a decent-sized fanbase, you can even ask for fanmade intros and outros to try. This is a great way to get your audience involved and engaged with your podcast, as well as keep your sound fresh.
11. Add music and sound effects, if suitable
Music and sound effects can be very effective tools in creating a sense of atmosphere and highlighting key moments. Choose your music and effects carefully, if appropriate, and don’t overdo it! Less is definitely more when it comes to this kind of edit.
12. Listen back a full day after you finish editing
Once you’ve completed your work, wait at least a day before you re-listen. This will give you “fresh ears” and help you listen as though you’re an audience member rather than the creator.
As you listen, think about how it sounds and whether you’ve effectively delivered your message – and if not, consider putting your editing cap back on! Practice makes perfect, after all, and you shouldn’t expect to do a flawless job right off the bat. The more editing you do, the better your podcast will sound over time, so don’t give up.
In summary: editing a podcast with polish and flair starts with using professional equipment, checking your sound before you record and keeping the editing process in mind. You’ll want to stay on-message and choose your software wisely, but don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Finally, remember to differentiate your work from other podcasts by using sounds and music that reflect your message and themes. All these elements are part of learning how to edit a podcast, and over time, you’re sure to master them and produce amazing episodes your listeners will love.
Premiere Podcast Studios is a bespoke podcast recording studio located in Shoreditch, London. Find a recording slot today or contact us for more information.