How many 'takes' did you need for the first podcast?

In the organisation that I work for there is an enormous amount of training and we are continuously looking for ways to reduce training times. Based on your approach, we have started producing our own tools just for trainers. Included in the 'toolbox' are our own podcasts.

We're stuck on podcast one and after three attempts, still not happy with the result.

Did it just come naturally or are there a few pieces of your podcast that we don't hear? Do you rehearse? How much scripting is involved?



mauzenne's picture
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We did our first podcast with one take. As a matter of fact, I can't recall ever doing more than one take for reasons other than technical, like "oops, my recorder wasn't turned on" :-)

Although we didn't "script" at all in the beginning, we quickly transitioned to a fairly detailed set of show notes to guide us (this is not an insignificant piece of work -- Mark spends at least 2 hours on each show on this one task). There's a fairly keen balance between scripting and spontaneity, however. We "script" it enough to ensure we cover the material in detail, but we often (almost always?) deviate quite a bit. As a matter of fact, I try hard to find questions that Mark has [i]not [/i]prepared for (he enjoys the challenge, and I enjoy messing with him. :-) Although we review the show notes and discuss the material briefly before hand, we don't [i]rehearse [/i]the podcast.

As far as "satisfaction" ... first, we do some post-production work editing the podcast. Frankly, it's not much, but there is some. I edit out the coughs, strange farm animal sounds (on Mark's end), and other miscellaneous distractions, normalize our levels, etc.. Sometimes I can fix a particular problem; however, many times I can't. Sometimes during the course of a podcast one of us will stop and say "that was an idiotic response, let me try that again" and we'll go through it again. I'll cut out the first response during post-production.

After all that, sometimes I'm still not "satisfied" ... and then I quickly publish it. I suspect that for every podcast that gets published out there on the net, there are many that don't because folks don't feel their stuff is quite up to snuff. And it's a shame. Very early on, Mark and I decided we were just going to "go for it". We both have a high set of standards for what we produce, and we knew that if we waited to meet those standards, we wouldn't produce even a single podcast. Almost every podcaster I know, when asked the question "how do I start?", answers with "Just, do it!"

Sounds like you're trying too hard ... find someone who's passionate about the material (Mark and I are lucky in that regard in that the passion for management came BEFORE the passion for podcasting), outline what you want covered, and set them loose. Put it out there for your org, then get tons of feedback, and then do it again ... more feedback ... and so on. It won't take too many iterations until you get comfortable. But you have to start! Call it Beta, Pilot, Test, whatever ... let people know it's raw and that you want feedback ... but do it.

Based on the experiences of some of my podcasting friends who have done personal podcasts and then taken that experience into their work environment, your experience is a common one. Many corporate types have a hard time with the raw nature of podcasting. They want to control the message, the image, the ..... They want to turn it into a studio production. And so, the overhead of producing the podcast grows too high and it succumbs to a quick death.

On the other hand, if you want the same quality as the standard training programs you can buy, be prepared to pay the price ...

If you would like to make contact with one of the folks that have gone down the same path you are, send me an email with your contact info and I'll make the introduction. I'm sure you would get better insight than I can give you.

Good luck ... we're always here if you have any more questions.

best regards,

ddavis's picture

Thanks Mike.

The insight really helps.

We'll publish, take the feedback and improve on it.

I appreciate your time.


kaspar's picture

Hi M&M,

To me your way of producing, focussing on the content and noticeably enjoying yourselves realy works. Please keep your kids coming down the stairs, the planes flying over the house and the mouse clicking. Great.

juliahhavener's picture
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I'll jump on Kaspar's wagon.

The fact that we can hear the kids, the planes, the computer...LIFE going on all around only increases the value. Value is a perception. I perceive that you are taking time away from your families, jobs, lives, to enrich mine. I place a heavy premium on that. The fact that I find applicable value to my work life (and in some cases my home life -- wait, we don't talk about that application of the feedback model) only increases the value to me.

Keep living. It's part of what makes you both very special, and the gift that you give so incredibly valuable.

And for the original poster...if you wait until something is just right, absolutely'll be waiting forever. Put something out now that says what you want it to say, in more or less the way you want to say it, and get it out there! They can't use what you haven't given them access to yet. I like 'beta'. How many people haven't used a beta product these days? Not all that many. If you build it, they will give you feedback...and increase their perceived value by having a contribution to the whole.


chuckbo's picture

A friend of mine has a saying that I really like: "done is better than perfect."

ctomasi's picture

Oh, I have got to remember that for my "C" guys in IT!

Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim....

sholden's picture
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As a podcaster ... I highly recommend just doing it. You'll get better over time and you'll grow in production value.

Make sure you are doing something you really enjoy and it will work it self out.

One idea ... is to shorten what you are trying to put together so if you want more polish it won't take so long doing different takes.

But honestly that is the beauty of podcasting. It is real life audio.


Glenn Ross's picture

I agree, just do it. My first two podcasts sounded much better to others than they sounded to the two of us who did them. And I was using a relatively inexpensive mic plugged into my laptop while it ran Audacity software. I went to the net and downloaded some music and added it to either end.

...done is better than perfect.

That's brilliant. I'm borrowing that perhaps ad nauseum and I'm not referring just to podcasting.



ctomasi's picture

The other phrase I use is "good enough is good enough" to encourage people to not spend 80% of their time doing the last 20% of the project. I don't want to encourage shortcuts, but phrases like this need to be used frequently with high Cs.

Mark's picture
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I'll share a story here that Mike and I shared with the SF Meet Up crew.

Our FIRST cast, Mike had this totally cool, GIGANTIC MS Project equivalent task list, with all kinds of "stuff" on it for what we needed to do to become podcasters. It was dang impressive, and a little daunting. I told him, "hey, man, I'll look at this, sure... but I think we oughta go down to Best Buy, buy a USB mike, hook the thing up, AND DO ONE."

And we did, and he still has it, our first cast.

And every step in the initial project, we've gone through since.


(said like a true High D, High I)

MattJBeckwith's picture
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I was glad that I listened (again) to the first 'cast on my way to the SF meet up. That put the story is such context. I think about it all the time and remember that "just doing it" (tense changed to protect me from Nike's lawyers) is so important.

deanwhitehead's picture

Great advice on just doing it...and...Mike, you have a tech background. You might have a leg up on some of us, e.g., me. So, can anyone share with me some good reference guides or websites on the tech aspects podcasting? Is "Podcasting for Dummies" any good? Thank you all. This is a great community!

A quick reply to the first post from DDavis about training casts: If you haven't already done it, you might suggest that the hesitators in your organization listen to a few Manager-Tools casts. M&M's lessons are invariably clear, and the easy-going format reminds people that this is NOT a stale, off-the-shelf training product, but instead two witty, generous and very knowledgeable management consultants sharing their tools and expertise as if we are talking over coffee. I'm not sure how much more real and accessible you can make it! :D

TomW's picture
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One of my favorite moments, which I'm assuming was unscripted, was this horrible dragging, pounding, construction sound, which we later found out was Mike getting a soapbox for Mike. (I forget which cast that was)

MattJBeckwith's picture
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[quote="deanwhitehead"]Is "Podcasting for Dummies" any good? Thank you all.[/quote]

Hello Dean. Tee Morris, one of the co-authors of Podcasting for Dummies, does a lot of speaking and writing (and of course, podcasting) on the subject. I have heard great things about the companion podcast to that book. Search in iTunes for "Podcasting for Dummies".

The greatest thing I've ever heard on the subject, though, is still, Mark's "just go to Best Buy, get a USB mic and let's do this!" approach!

Best of luck to you.

Mark's picture
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Ready aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim aim