Stop Blaming Your Guest For Bad Audio

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(By Dave Jackson)

You Off To Create Magic In The Kitchen?

You’re cooking a dish of some sort. You need an ingredient and you go to the store. They don’t have the main brand you usually use, and so you choose the only one available. You follow all the steps you normally do, and when you come to taste it, it’s not the same. In fact, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Who do you blame?
The off-brand ingredient?
The store for not having the brand you wanted in stock?

Here is a novel idea.
Look in the mirror.

Who started making this dish before they had all the ingredients? YOU.

It’s YOUR DISH.

You are the one serving it.

You will get credit if it’s good, but also if it’s bad.

What does this have to do with podcasting?

I’m Tired of People Blaming Bad Audio on Their Guest.

I have fallen into the trap of saying, “You can’t control what equipment your guest has.” But you can. You control what guests make it to your listener’s ears. I’ve been hired to produce some episodes for organizations and in some cases, I had to say, “Do you have some earbuds?” People wanted to use the microphone on their laptops and have it sit three feet from them. I’ve run into a few instances where people don’t want the microphone in the video so it’s sitting an arms length away when the goal is to get it a fist-width from their mouth.

I know it’s a pandemic. I know some things are out of stock. Here is a question:

Is the “expert” you’re talking to the only expert on this subject? You’re doing an episode about losing weight in your 50’s and there is only ONE expert who can talk about this?

When I have people pitch me to be on my show, if they’ve done their homework and connected their expertise to my audience (which 98% of them don’t) one of the first things I’m going to ask is, “Do you have a link to a previous interview so I can hear your audience quality?” I realize that some of this can be addressed in a pre-interview, but before I dedicate time to a pre-interview, I want to know if you can achieve the level of audio quality that will not reflect badly upon me.

Some solutions:
Obviously, a microphone like the Samson Q2U is an ideal, inexpensive microphone (under $100). Using a service like squadcast.fm provides separate tracks (in the event they don’t sound great you have a better chance of cleaning it up if they are on separate tracks). If you can’t do that then:

If you’re just needing audio, but you’re using Zoom (not my first choice, but everyone appears to know how to use it) have the guest hold the phone to their ear so the microphone is closer to their mouth. The microphone in most phones is not too bad. If you need video, then have them get some earbuds so that they can be away from the camera (to be in the show) but the microphone is closer to their mouth.

If they are using a Blue Yeti microphone, make sure the setting on the back of the mic is set to the icon that looks like a heart ( so it only picks up from the front). Have them place a pop filter between their mouth and the microphone and talk into the side of the microphone with the “Blue” logo. Do not talk into the top of it. If all they have is a desk stand, then get some books, a box, etc to get that microphone closer to the mouth. This is (sadly) a very popular microphone and a LARGE amount of Blue Yeti owners are using it in a way that produces bad audio.

When you say to them, “I’d love to have you on my show, but your audio isn’t currently cutting it. If you want you can order a cheap headset or some earbuds, and we can try again later.” You’re not saying “No.” You’re saying “Not now.” If the guest wants to be part of podcasting, they need the right gear. If they go out and buy a better microphone, then you did, indeed, control the equipment your guest has. Yes, it’s awkward, but your brand and our audience will thank you.

The bottom line is if you’re wondering why your podcast isn’t growing, it may be that it’s leaving a bad taste in people’s mouth…

Dave Jackson is a Hall of Fame podcast consultant who has been podcasting since 2005. He is the founder of the School of Podcasting where he helps you start your podcast and grow your influence. He can be reached by e-mail at schoolofpodcasting@gmail.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. As usual, Dave is spot-on. I’d add: always do a sound check with the guest in advance. That’s when you’ll find out what they are really doing, and you’ll have some time to correct the situation before the actual recording session.

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