Part of a series of answers to questions from students at the University of Toronto. Here’s a link to all the student Q&As, including those from 2010.
Question: I would like Donna to talk about any techniques she uses to put more expression in her voice and how long it generally takes her to put a show together.
Answer: The first part is easy: Stand up and speak with passion. I’m serious! If anyone came into my studio while I’m recording, they’re likely to see me standing at my microphone, gesticulating rather wildly. I’ve covered this topic before.
If you care about your podcast topic, you’ll naturally add vocal variety. If you’re unsure of this, record a test podcast and ask a critical friend to listen. Are they engaged in your message or bored? If you speak in a monotone, they will be bored. But if you slow down, speed up, emphasize important words and have a sense of humour, they will likely listen with gratitude. Try it.
As for the second question: It can take 15 minutes to put a show together, or six hours. I’ve experienced both. If you know your content cold and you’re certain of your message, it’s pretty straightforward to record, edit and publish. But if you waffle, if you need to edit yourself quite a bit, and (heaven forbid) you experience “technical difficulties,” you may want to throw your microphone and your computer out the window. This has happened to all podcasters at one point or another. My advice: Always back up, and never destroy a file. In other words, keep each file you work on, and pay particular attention to preserving the initial recording, because you never know when you might have to go back to it. This is especially important in an interview. If you are recording only yourself, you can do it over without too much of a problem. But you might not be able to book a guest again if you’ve screwed up.
As a guideline, I generally allow one hour of editing time for each 15 minutes of podcast. (This assumes that you have prerecorded your intro, outro, etc.) I hope this helps.