A microphone is in front of a laptop and headphones. The laptop displays audio recording software.

Audio is a great education resource that students can use while travelling, waiting or working. It is easy to create, and students value the ‘human touch’ that voice offers compared with conventional texts.

A microphone is in front of a laptop and headphones. The laptop displays audio recording software.

The rapid rise in the popularity of podcasting as a medium for storytelling, discussion and documentary affords a great many opportunities for researchers and educators to teach, learn and talk about their work. Podcasts offer an intimate, personal way to connect to audiences, inviting them into stories, conversations and discussions in a way that is distinctive and refreshing. Podcasting offers the opportunity to combine learning, research, journalism and storytelling. We want to nurture and grow our own small Southampton podcasting community and invite new voices to tell their stories and find their audiences.

How to make a podcast

A media producer is holding a microphone and listening through headphones.

Some quick tips to get you started

1. Plan your content

At the University’s Podcasting Micro-conference (#sotonpod16Dave Pickering reminded us that the first listener is yourself. What would you like to hear about?  Is there an audience that’s not being served? Are there topics that you know a great deal about but aren’t widely known about?

2. You need some kit

One of the benefits of podcasting rather than radio production is the relatively low-fi nature of creating these audio files. In many cases recording can be done on a phone, laptop or tablet using one or two of the many brilliant apps for iphone or android that are available. You might want to augment the microphone on your digital device by purchasing one that can plug in via usb or thunderbolt connection. Small tie-mics can be used discreetly if you’re recording in public places. Finally, dedicated audio recorders such as the Zoom H4 offer incredible quality and a number of inputs for microphones.

3. Follow an outline

You might not want to script every part, but creating a structure for your podcast, with an introduction, setup, background to your interviewee or contributor, different sections and spots really helps your listeners know where one part ends and another begins. You might include stings or silences, but it’s important to use sound as you would punctuation in a piece of writing.

4. Tell the story

Get personal, storytelling is how we communicate and engage people, use all the tools that storytellers have to hand, humour, suspense, intrigue, drama. Your story should have a beginning, middle and end, but to paraphrase Godard, not necessarily in that order.

5. Edit

No matter how fluent you are in your speech and how much you enjoyed talking to your guest, you will need to edit with ruthless efficiency, making sure you cut out the waffle and bring the gems to the surface. Remember though that there’s huge value in humour, in the inflections of speech and the throwaway or off guard comments. Being human is what makes your podcast listenable. If you really don’t want those parts, then it might be more appropriate to publish a paper or article. Remember why you chose to podcast in the first place.

If you’re using an app to record your audio, then often you can edit in the same place or download clips to your PC or laptop. If you’re using Adobe Audition or Audacity, then be sure to check out LinkedIn Learning or search for online tutorials.

6. Create an engaging package

It’s not just about the podcast, you need to support and nurture it — whilst you may not want to consciously brand your podcast, it’s important that you give it a visual identity. You need a strong image, good copy writing and soon a style will emerge that is recognisable to your audience.

7. Host your podcast

There are many ways to do this, but one of the most effective is to use apple’s iTunes or iTunesU sites. Apple still seems to sit firmly at the centre of the internet podcasting ecosystem. Many podcasters load their files onto soundcloud for instance, which can provide an RSS feed for iTunes. In turn, there are a great many hosting providers, including the excellent libsyn which will let you upload shownotes and links to accompany your podcast.

8. Keep going!

If you can get beyond the magic episode number seven then statistically you’ll be able to sustain a podcast for an entire series. You’re allowed to take a break once in a while or move on when you feel you’ve exhausted a subject, but don’t forget to take your listeners with you. Keep talking to them, involve them, ask for feedback and ask them to share and like on social media.

Please let us know how you get on.

If you would like any further advice and guidance please don’t hesitate to get in touch with digital-learning@soton.ac.uk

Audio podcasts

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