Podcasting on location can be a challenge. I know. I’ve been there.
Each of us will have different approaches and varying situations, but here are a few basics to keep in mind.
Tips for On Podcasting on Location
Recorded vs. Live
This question will depend on many factors. First, do you normally do them live or pre-record them? If it’s the latter, and you are at a conference, for example, instead of airing it after the fact, you will want to do it live. Typically you will be streaming it. it somehow. Maybe you’ll be using a service. Or you might even go with Google Hangouts or Facebook Live.
These latter are two great, hassle-free options. And the most important part? How is the internet connection? If you go to a lot of conferences, you know how spotty the connections can be.And if you are doing it at someone’s office, can you connect to your internet? Or do you have to run it into your phone’s hotspot (which could be another issue altogether)? In any case, plan ahead if you are podcasting live. Because there is nothing worse having your podcast cut off mid-stream.
Obviously, you are going to have to test this prior or during the time you are podcasting on location. No amount of planning will prepare you for this. The key here is to find that sweet spot. If you are doing something at an office, you can typically find a quiet spot. When you are doing it at a conference, background noise gives you a certain ambience, a liveliness that shows your listeners that you are where the action is. But this is where the testing will come in. Depending on the quality your mic, lots of extraneous noise can be picked up. What sounds good to the human ear, can come across a lot differently to your listeners. Trust me on this one, I have been there. And no matter what kind of equipment you have for editing later, nothing is tougher than removing background chatter. So test, test, test.
Let me break this down.
1. Will It Work?
Again, pre-plan and test in your office. Don’t assume anything. Between the various mics, and whether you have a recorder, or hook it up to your laptop, phone or tablet, your results can vary. W
Other issues: What software are you using? Are you going to have more than one mic? With some mics, it’s impossible to hook up more than one to Garage Band. A dozen other small details can set you up for a fail. I can’t say that one software works better than any other, but I have used GarageBand successfully on my laptop and iPad. And I have used Auphonics on my iPhone. But some of the default apps for audio work just as well. It’s all about your own needs.
2. What Kind of Mic Should I Use?
I get a kick over how many people I know who are podcast-equipment crazy. Even their small podcast demands the most expensive equipment. But let’s not go down that road. First, find out if what you have will work. Is it portable enough? Easy to hand hold? But unless you are going to be doing podcasting on the road a lot, I recommend that you be kind to your pocketbook. I have used $20 mics that have worked perfectly. Currently, I use an iRig HD that is a bit more, but it does the job. And if you want to spend a few more bucks, you can go with something like the the Rode Handheld . Or you can get some good stuff that are really smaller and able to sit right on your iPhone. The list goes on and on and on. Find what works for you but don’t go bankrupt over it.
3. What Quality Do My Listeners Expect?
Remember, you are on the road. No one is going to expect studio quality. As long as it’s clear enough for them to understand, it really boils down to this: People are not listening to your podcast because you use $100 worth of equipment or $1,000+. Seriously, they don’t give a damn. It’s about you, the content and your guests (if you have guests). I don’t recommend using your iPods as they rub against the clothing, causing irritating sounds Nor do I suggest those tiny, cheap lapel mics. I’ve tried those, and they just don’t cut it.
Timing With Your Guests
Lastly, I want to touch on this, specifically if you are doing podcasting on location at a conference or a WordCamp. Stuff goes sideways. Likely you are going to be doing interviews. Guests get busy. They find other shiny distractions at the conference. No shows and late arrivals are common. It’s not that you aren’t important, stuff just happens. Best thing to do is make sure you set a time. Don’t say, let’s talk when we get there and set something up. You are setting yourself up for failure there. And get their phone number so you can text them and don’t have to shout out on Twitter.
As you can see, most of this is common sense. Just be prepared—and flexible. I leave you with a warning. No matter how much you prepare, things don’t always work out. That has happened to me twice.
In the end, don’t sweat the small stuff. Go with the flow.
And have fun.