Within this article, I’ll give you my 11 recommended ways to make your podcast sound professionally. Once you have chosen an idea, bought a good mic, and started recording, it is essential to produce good quality content. But content should make you look like a professional to encourage people to listen more.
Let me share with you what I find works best and is quite easy to implement.
1. Get an Intro and an Outro
There is a reason why radio programs and tv series stick to the intro and outro formula. It simply works! It is a clear sign that the show is about to start and that listeners should focus attention presenter’s voice.
On top, it is a ritual. People are used to it, and they expect it. And it is tough to change habits on a global scale. So it doesn’t matter if you think that intro and outro are not necessary. Your clients will subconsciously look for it. You have to have one if you want to make your podcast sound professionally.
Just make sure to get only legal samples for your podcast to avoid any trouble.
The force of habit is powerful. That’s why websites around the world have their logos on the left side (or maybe in the center, but definitely not on the right side). A brand recognition study by Nielsen Norman group confirmes that the logo placed on the left increases your podcast brand recognition.
It is a result of the reading habit. In western culture, we read from left to right, from top to bottom.
On the other hand, the placement of login and cart on the right is just a matter of online habit. There is no science behind it, but since millions of sites before you already trained millions of users certain behaviors, why would you want to go against the established norms.
2. Quote Reputable Sources
In the early ‘90s, Sergey Brin and Larry Page first published a paper about their search engine prototype in Stanford’s Computer Science Department and revolutionized the web. They have built their idea based on quotations system that popular content gets quoted much more often in newer content. Google founders, however, didn’t come up with this idea. They have copied the approach from the science community.
When a research paper is good, it gets quoted a lot in other articles and becomes the basis for other peoples’ work. It is how progress gets made. By quoting a reputable source, a new paper builds on the foundation of other people and advances the field. It is placed in a broad context of the discussion. The new publication doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Do the same as a podcaster. Whatever is the topic of your podcast mention those who came before you and who had good ideas as well. Mention people who have contributed to your field and whose ideas you are using. Clearly say what is your contribution so you will show value to your listener.
It makes your podcast sound professionally and proves that you are up to date with the latest events. Influential people do this all the time. Warren Buffet and Noam Chomsky, some of my idols, do it all the time, and we enormously value their opinions about the world. They know who is reputable and whos data is reliable.
Show humility that you are continually learning and developing, and your podcast listeners will learn with you.
3. Adjust Your Tone
There are many vocal tips for podcasters you should implement to make your podcast sound professionally.
- How would you like to sound? Is your podcast more suitable for a faster and enthusiastic sports commentator voice, or maybe you should aim for a smooth late-night radio DJ style?
- Be conversational and friendly. If you have an educational podcast, use words like “you” and “I.” It minimizes the distance and makes you feel more like a listeners friend.
- Experiment with Enunciation – a lot of people modify their voice slightly for recording. All of the professional actors do that for their roles.
- Show emotions when it is needed, but also control them. It is great to be excited about a topic, but you also don’t want to lose yourself in a monologue.
- Eliminate filler words. They are common in natural conversations but are incredibly unpleasant in professional audio.
- Eliminate vocal inflection by knowing what you are going to say.
Pacing is also a vital part of your delivery. You need to make it sow that the listener will following your train of thought. Talk slow enough so you will be well understood. It is something that requires practice. Most people tend to speak fast and talk even faster when they are nervous. I do that too.
Pauses are the next vital element of correct pacing. It just makes your podcast sound professional as it helps with active listening and captures the attention of your audience.
Master your tone to get in the end a professional show. There is no shortcut here. You need to practice, take notes, improve, repeat. There is no other way if you don’t want to delay your show for two years. Just make sure you make a conscious effort to improve continuously.
4. Share a Significant Statistic
According to Infinite Dial, over 60 million Ameican listen to podcasts regularly every week according to the latest podcasting statistics. This number is growing to surpass 80 million weekly listeners soon. You need to get into the game and find your place and make sure your podcast sounds professional.
All those people listen to different podcasts and are trying to determine (consciously or not) which one is most valuable to them. It is a typical behavior pattern we all follow.
When we find something we like, we suddenly want to consume more. So we read more blogs, view more YT videos, and listen to more podcasts. However, the initial enthusiasm always passes, and we all move to new things, so we need to select. We dropped most of the content sources we once liked and just maybe come back to one or two most valuable.
Sharing numbers will increase attachment to your brand. When you provide data, you look smart, but most importantly, you make your audience feel smart. According to the Podcast Consumer market analysis, 59% of people say they listen to podcasts because “they make you feel smart.”
If you are strategic about your podcast and use it to educate, then this % is for sure hire. Give people what they want. Making people feel smart shows you understand their needs and makes your podcast sound professionally.
On top people are busy and they tend to forget stuff. I often forget, and I like to be reminded from time to time that there are 500 million blogs, 25 million YouTube channels, and only 0.7 million podcasts, and all trends indicate that all three numbers will only grow.
5. Remove Distractions
Ambient noises have a place in shows but should be planned and not left to chance. You don’t want your listener to hear a child in the next room, a truck outside, or a loud air conditioner.
It makes the entire listening experience unpleasant, and you want to avoid it at all costs. Customer experience is one of the main factors when Clients buy and pay, so you want to pay attention to how does your podcast sound.
Consider where people listen to shows? Podcasts are often listened to in cars, at the gym, during a commute, etc. Those are not perfect listening conditions and are full of noises. For this reason, you should keep your audio crystal clear to guarantee you make your podcast sound professional.
Improving acoustic conditions is extremely important.
You can start simply by picking the best sounding room at your home or office. The bigger, the better. But also look for elements absorbing sound waves. The best for this job are large pieces of fabric. The worst are hard surfaces, like naked walls and windows.
Another easy way to record in a better condition simply is to observe patterns in the neighborhood you are recording. In most places, it is the quietest between 10 pm and 6 am.
Finally, if a room sounds poorly on the recording you need to soundproof your home studio.
6. Capture Interesting Information
Did you know that customer service ranks as the #1 factor influencing how much a consumer trusts a company?
But do you also know that 55% of consumers would pay more for better customer experience, and 86% of consumers are willing to pay up to 25% more for better customer experience? (Salesforce Blog). On top, nearly a third of consumers believe that businesses are now paying less attention to providing excellent customer service (Global Customer Service Barometer).
Nothing makes a podcast sound professionally more than showing you can present information interestingly and engagingly. If your podcast is a marketing channel for selling products, you absolutely need to pay attention to experience.
Be attractive to your customers, and they will pay more for your products. When I hear useful information but conveyed in an uninteresting way, I always think about poor teachers I’ve encountered in my past. Sure, they knew their topic, but they couldn’t pass it successfully. An excellent podcaster makes his show entertaining.
The popular way people are using it is the famous phrase, “did you know that [something is or will happen]?”. The past tense implies that this is something they might have already know. Next, try to show consequences and tell what this means for peoples’ lives. You can start with “But do you also know that [this means something else]?”. But this is not the only way. Be engaging in your own way.
7. Know Your Sound Parameters
As people listen to podcasts in various loud locations, you will make your podcast sound professional when you make your show sound flawlessly. Having your recording settings adjusted correctly will vastly improve your audio quality.
Find your sweet spots, but here are some settings I like to use.
Set the noise floor at or below -60dB. It will help to eliminate signal created from all the unwanted audio noises, including the internal electronic sound of your recording equipment.
Audio levels should be around -10 to -12dB. Quietest recorded audio should be kept well above the noise floor, maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio.
Extremely important is to avoid ever peaking above 0db or higher. When you do this, you will create and record audio distortions. And they are complicated to edit. Until you get more experience, try to peak at or below -3dB.
Also, stick to this more cautious setting when you have a guest, and you don’t know how loudly they may be talking. To be extra safe, you should consider adding a software limiter to your input audio. The limiter will catch unexpected spikes in volume.
When it comes to files, remember that CD standard quality uses a sampling rate of 44,100 Hz (or 44.1 kHz).
Record your podcast in .wav file at 44,1 kHz sample rate and 24-bit depth. Use an uncompressed .wav file format to avoid quality loss.
When you prepare your file for publishing use .mp3 file at 44,1 kHz sample rate, 16-bit depth, 64 kbps at a constant bit rate (CBR).
It is crucial to remember that we use different parameters for recording and for publishing. Using the right set will make your podcast sound professionally. If you mess them up you will have an imperfect file to edit or to large file to publish.
8. Get a Better sounding Mic
Get a high-quality best dynamic microphone. You have better things to do than wonder why your podcast doesn’t sound professional. Focus on other points on this list. I have Shure SM7B and I’m not planning to switch.
The bad mic will be made of inferior quality materials. The design will be most likely copied from a more successful mic available longer on the market. The frequency response will be inadequate. Your voice will sound flat and not attractive. Finally, it will never achieve the smooth, radio presenter feel.
I’m very busy, so I’m a person that immensely values my time. That’s why I don’t experiment with poor hardware to save $50, especially if this can cost me to lose endless hours of fixing stuff (editing) or losing customers (through bad customer experience). And if eventually, I need to upgrade anyway to make my podcast sound professionally, what is the point of dealing with an average microphone in the first place?
Buy only the best podcasting equipment. Quality and value is not the price you pay. The price may be a bit higher than the most popular USB set up. But as Warren Buffet said, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
9. Adjust the Lenght of Your Podcast
Statistically, podcasts lasting 30-40min tend to perform the best.
It’s not a rule. Joe Rogan has his shows lasting for hours, and Neil Patel has his lasting just around 10 minutes. If you have a podcast with guests and you want to know their life stories, you may end up having a very long show. And that is okay. Usually, when people are telling a story, it gets them some time to reveal everything they want. In this case, a podcast lasting an hour or 2 hours looks appropriate.
When your podcast is educational, and you are delivering a lot of facts may be a shorter show is more appropriate. 10-15 minutes might be enough to provide a list of facts and actionable items for your listeners. If your list of details is too long, it won’t be as memorable, and although your show might be valuable, you could leave your listeners at a discomfort.
Nailing the length of your show is essential for maintaining a professional image. It shows your listeners that you understand their needs, and your podcasts deliver the expected quality.
10. Present a Social Proof
- Over 70% of Americans look at reviews before making a purchase decision. (source)
- And, nearly 63% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a site showing ratings and reviews. (source)
You can have a podcast about electric vehicles and not be an engineer. But to ensure your podcast sounds professionally show how reputable companies are implementing technologies. Proving that someone with authority did what you are talking about shows that you know your subject.
When you teach anything, work on showing how it is successful for others.
If you have Clients, then present their authentic testimonials. The people you have helped can give you positive feedback and testimonials if your product solved their problems. Just ask and then share it publicly.
When you don’t have Clients yet, then present the benefits of your product in a broader context. Build credibility based on years of work, knowledge, certification, unique qualifications, and experience.
Tell about your product in a positive light but don’t overpromise. Positive social proof works excellent in increasing conversions.
Show the limitations of your product and highlight for whom the product is not suitable. Being honest shows your Client you are genuine and not too pushy with your sales efforts.
11. Stand and Breathe
Stand while you are recording. Professional voice-over actors always do this. When you stand, you open up your breath. You will be able to breathe deeper, which makes it easier to pronounce words more clearly. It is possible because when you sit, you compress your diaphragm, and when you stand up, you release this pressure, and the diaphragm can capture more air.
When you stand, you speak louder and fuller. You can record longer phrases, and it is less likely you will run out of air.
Additionally, when you stand, you are free to express yourself with the whole body. You can use hand gestures, head shifting, etc. which will all improve the dynamic of your delivery and make your podcast sound professionally.
When it comes to audible breaths nowadays, it is more acceptable. But by practicing, you can eliminate loud sighs from your audio. Best things you can do is practice taking smaller and more frequent breaths instead of waiting until you run out of the air and you need to make a big gasp
Also, either know your script or plan your speech. When you know when a next pause will come, you will be able to prepare the moments better when you can breathe and when you need to talk. Another thing to do is know when you will need to deliver a fast, longer, and more emotional piece, so you can prepare in advance and not run out of air.
In the end, mic positioning also helps. It all depends on the mic type you have, pop, or wind-filters you use. Experiment a bit with finding the best mic positioning. Once you find it, control yourself when you record. Don’t lean into the mic, and don’t turn your head away.
There are numerous ways to make your podcast sound professionally.
My recommendation is to go through our list and immediately implement what is simplest for you right away. Then focus on the steps that will require some effort and do it anyway.
Eventually, your podcast will sound more professional, and you will be happy with the results.