Creating a business podcast that really stands out from the crowd isn’t simply about choosing the best mic, the latest insight or even the best guest. The art of podcast editing is where the magic truly happens, transforming a piece of published audio into a polished, professional production, that’ll keep your listener hooked right to the very end.
Yet, for many podcasters the editing is overlooked, and understandably, it’s not something that can be learned overnight, though clever technology is now putting this art in the hands of many.
Having cut my audio teeth in radio production, where cutting down whole interviews into the very best 3 minutes to fit between 2 songs was the daily challenge, I’ve gained a good ear for what cut, what move and what to leave in.
So, let’s get into our top five podcast editing tips to help your business podcast truly make a mark.
Don’t just think of the edit as a way to cut down the length of an interview, it’s about refining the story, crafting a narrative and taking the listener on a journey. As with anything you as a creator are close to, it’s easy to think that everything in the episode is gold, but to master the art of the edit means taking a step back and trying to be objective.
1. Prioritise clarity and brevity
Begin with the end in mind, know what story you are setting out to tell, and importantly keep your podcast DNA in mind at all times, it’ll help guide you on what to cut. Trim out fluff, remove words and phrases that don’t really add anything or are just repeating the same point that’s already been made – focus on the narrative flow.
When podcast editing, if you’re in two minds whether to cut something out, ask yourself this: “Will the listener’s experience be any worse off from not hearing this? If the answer is no, then trim away, you’ll be surprised how much you can remove.
Podcast editing is the art of making every word count and every moment meaningful
2. To ‘um’, or not to ‘um’
We’ve all heard it before, an interview where the guest (or host) ‘ums’ or ‘ahs’ so much it’s all our ear gets tuned into. While it might be tempting to trim out all of these, lets call them ‘filler words’, or prolonged pauses, remember they are part of natural speech patterns, and add character and ultimately authenticity to your podcast. They make the conversation feel real and relatable to the listeners (studies show you can learn a lot about someone from their filler words). If you were to remove these (and some editing software lets you remove them in one fell swoop), beware, the result is likely to be a robotic, unnatural conversation that loses all human touch. It may seem like more effort, but careful selection (even partly automated with a tool like Descript) taking out the ones which feel intrusive but leaving just the ones which add character is the way to go. And never try and remove a word if you listen back and you can hear the edit, if in doubt dont take it out.
Top 3 phrases you hear that that no podcast really needs
We’ve edited thousands of hours of audio and there’s some phrases which we’ll always try an remove
- “That’s a great question, let me answer that for you...” – Is your listener’s life improved by hearing this or does the real value lie in the answer your guest is about to give?
- “Thanks for that, really interesting” – The host thanking the guest for their answer – you’d probably never thank someone during a conversation with someone, so why in a podcast?
- “OK next question” – Of course, not everybody is as experienced an interviewer Emily Maitlis or Conan O’Brien, interviews should sound like a conversation not a Q&A, use the edit to make it feel that way
3. Shuffle for impact
Don’t feel like you need to be confined by the linear sequence of your raw recording. Remember you’re a storyteller, not just an editor. At times, a guest may drop a golden nugget of wisdom towards the end of the recording that would be much more impactful if slotted in right after an anecdote told near the start of your interview. In situations like this, don’t be afraid to shuffle the order around to make it much more engaging for the listener. You’re not trying to change what people say (and nor should you); it’s about using the edit to create that compelling narrative we’re after.
4. Have fun with sound
Sound design (the art of using soundscapes, non-speech recordings or music) isn’t just for narrative podcasts. It can take an interview in a business podcast to the next level, if done well. Using music can change the pace of an interview, it can underscore key points, help you transition between segments, introduce features or help you break up long sections of dialogue into easier to digest sections. There’s a wealth of great royalty free sounds and tracks online, but be wary of going for the obvious or, dare we say, cheesy – try and think creatively. Imagine you run a podcast for a travel company, you could use airport announcement sounds to transition between sections. Or you may be in the photography business – build up a bank of nicely produced camera shutter clicks to use to move from one topic to another. This idea is nothing new, it’s what radio has been doing brilliantly for decades with its jingles.
5. Consistency is Key
The most successful podcasts are the ones which have a clear identity, listeners appreciate the familiarity and professionalism that come with a well-produced series. So, be consistent with your editing process, decide what your target episode length is and use that as your guide. Don’t be tempted to use different music for every new episode, build up your ‘production library’ and make sure everyone in the team knows how to use it.
You may even want to think about creating ‘Sonic Guidelines’, like your brand guidelines but for audio, a set of rules and audio assets that your team knows how to use. This is exactly what KFC have, when they asked us to develop and produce their internal podcast series they gave us an excellent document that explained what the brand should sound like, what it shouldn’t sound like, what vibe music should have and how it should be used. The more brands venture into the world of audio, the more important having a set of these should be!
There’s a lot that goes into editing and it’s not a skill that comes overnight, a fantastic experienced producer can really help take your podcast to the next level. But, by incorporating these top five editing tips, you’ll help your business podcast on it’s way to not only sound more professional but also captivate and retain your audience.
If you want us to check out your podcast and give you our honest feedback and some juicy takeaways, get in touch.