Question from a client:
We have new information to tell our clients, but we aren't ready to make videos. We'd like to create an interim audio podcast to provide this information in a simple and accessible format. How do we do this using a PC?
There is still a role for audio podcasts on websites. Audio podcasts are arguably simpler to produce than video. Increasingly, website owners will be required to provide audio alternatives for written material to satisfy user accessibility. This can be achieved though services such as Readspeaker. However, if you don't have this website provision, or if you prefer not to have a digitalised voice on your website, then consider creating your own audio podcast to accompany website text.
Below is a step by step process for how I create audio podcasts for website information. This post does not describe how to create a podcast series for syndication. For information on this, refer to Podcasters Emporium.
Step 1: Choose an audio file format
Audio file formats include MP3 (most popular), WAV and WMA. Ask your website or intranet manager what file format is required, any maximum file size, and whether the website/intranet has an audio player as a template option. This enables the audience to hit play/pause to listen to the audio podcast directly from your website/intranet. For examples, refer to Stanford eCorner website and Small Business Big Marketing websites.
Step 2: Script your audio podcast
The script should be conversational and easy to listen to. Keep to simple language and short sentences. Consider your audience. If they are likely to be office workers listening from an office PC, then keep the script to one topic of 2-3 minutes duration.
Be explicit in your script to ensure the script writer, narrator and podcast producer all understand the approach being taken. Keep the audience in mind. Consider using a short music intro and outro to anchor your podcast, particularly if you intend to create multiple podcasts. This will help ready your audience for your content.
Step 3: Record the narration
For a professional recording, choose a service such as Voiceovers On The Net. Simply choose your narrator from the website, send your script for a quote, and advise your audio file format. Having an explicit script (like the example above) helps to ensure all parties are on the same page in getting the outcome that's required.
To create a podcast yourself, I suggest using software that will provide a better quality than the native PC Widows audio recorder (which only produces WMA files). I use Cubase by Steinberg. It's a little fiddly to master, but it provides clear audio output in WAV, WMA and MP3 formats.
For a microphone, I use Snowball, by Blue. It is one of the best microphones on the market that plugs straight into a PC USB input i.e. it doesn't require a separate mixer. Set up Cubase to record directly from the Snowball microphone.
Step 4: Produce the podcast
Using Cubase, I edit the audio file/s and import any music. I add any fades, adjust the base and reverb until I am happy. Then I export it as a single file for website use.
This same approach can be used to record audio files for inputting into e-learning courseware.