Not every podcast needs the same level of editing, but every podcast can benefit from some level of edits to ensure that it sounds as professional as possible. Learning how to edit your podcast will not only benefit you and your content, it will benefit any other podcast you may find yourself working on. With this explanation and walkthrough on editing, you’ll be another step closer to making your podcast be the best it can be.
Things To Note Before Editing:
- Give yourself space between when you record and when you edit your podcast episode. How much space you need is up to you, but by giving yourself multiple sit-down sessions will make recording and editing feel more comfortable as a process, and less like a mad dash to your publication date.
- Remember to edit with your headphones off, or to listen to your audio in different environments as you edit. Headphones don’t distort audio a whole lot, but the difference is enough to make your audio sound stilted or unbalanced to your audience. One popular method of testing your final recorded product is by testing your final audio file in your headphones, then in your car (aptly named the “car test”).
How Do You Edit Your Podcast?
Your editing can be reduced down to three separate categories, based on the nature and scope of the edits and when they take place. They focus on different things, but the end result is the finished product that is your edited podcast.
Overarching edits affect your audio file as a whole. This can be removing background noise from sustained sources like air conditioners and fans, adding effects and EQ on your voice and master track, etc.
Background noises can sometimes be unavoidable if you are on location for example – such as the dull noise of a distant crowd to show that you’re at a conference. But for your average episode, recorded at your desk or in your studio, these background noises can distract your listeners by creating too many levels of sound. Extraneous noise can also make post-editing difficult, as adding effects such as compressors, EQ, and the like can exacerbate these background noises.
Most DAWs (digital audio workstations) will feature something akin to a noise-reducing tool. This process usually involves highlighting a section of your audio that features the noise on its own, and using the software to eliminate that noise from the sound file in its entirety. If you’re an audio engineer or someone who feels comfortable aggressively using EQ, you can also try to find the frequency of the background noise and remove that frequency manually.
Getting rid of the overall background noise will also allow you to better hear your audio, so you can perform the spot edits needed to best streamline your content.
This encompasses any edits you make to specific spots in your audio, such as deleting long pauses and filler words (more on this shortly!). This may shorten your audio file, and in doing so create a more concise and impactful podcast episode.
Doing spot edits will also mean going back and relistening to the spots to ensure they sound natural. Remember that it’s okay for some space between words, and more space between sentences – running your speech together will give the illusion of you rushing through the material. Spot edits can also benefit from using your DAW’s fade in/out tools. This acts as a “glue” to automate volume drops and raises, which ensures that your cuts sound natural and not hard and choppy.
Pro Tip: If your audio has zero to minimal background noise, creating transitions between cut points will sound smoother.
Spot edits will also highlight inconsistencies with your audio, such as if you fidgeted and knocked into your desk, or if you speed up or slow down during a segment. Podcasting is all about improving, so finding these spots so you can edit them to sound better (or even recording them in some cases) shows you the places you can improve your podcasting style. Speaking of spot edits and pause words…
Editing and Removing “Pause Words”
Imagine that your podcast is speech, or a lecture to be given. A lack of long, drawn-out pauses or fillers words (“um,” or “uh”) denotes ease with the subject, meaning they’re more ready to present, teach, or entertain on the topic. Information on a topic presented in a stuttering fashion may convey the speaker’s anxiety on speaking, in general, or on that subject. Your listeners are trusting you in the role of educator or entertainer, and you may lose that trust if your audio is not presented in a clean format.
There are times when filler words and long pauses can suit the conversation and your content you’re presenting, such as in the case of more conversational content (interviews, group discussions). However, by removing extraneous words and pauses, you can make your content more streamlined and professional-sounding, thus giving your listeners the reason to trust you and the information you deliver.
Add-Ons (Intro/Outro, Transition Music) And Creating DAW Templates
Once the body of your audio is where you want it, now is the time to add any additional sounds. These could be sound effects for fictional podcasts, this can be music (either background music or music to signal beginning/transition/end), and can even include other pieces of audio from co-hosts or guests to your podcasts that you’ve also edited down.
Depending on your podcast and how you have it formatted, you can also experiment and work in audio templates for your content. Creating a saved template for your podcast a way to format your intro and outro music and any transition music as its own saved file with a place to plug in your recording and have your add-ons be 90% edited in. This will cut down on time being spent uploading and moving around your files in your editing software, and thus will cut down on your editing time.
So for example, the simplest form of a template would be your intro and outro music saved as a working file, spaced out to leave room for your edited audio to sit. You would then import your recorded episode into the working file, and then make the minor movements to get the intro and outro spaced where you want them in relation to the rest of the audio. By keeping the extra audio add-ons saved to their own file, you don’t have to load in all of these files to your recorded audio, and spend time getting the volume and spacing right when the templated file already has most of that done for you.
While editing your podcast can be a bit of a process, it’s a fantastic way to streamline your content and make it as professional-sounding as possible. To learn more about recording your podcast and diving into editing, check out our webinar!