Preparing Your First Podcast Episode

Are you getting excited to record your first podcast episode? With just a little more preparation, you’ll be ready to press the record button.

I should warn you that creating your first espisode will take longer than you might expect. In fact, podcasting in general can take longer than you think. That is why carefully preparing each show before you dive in is important. It will make the production process quicker and easier if you have thought things through before-hand.

Create Your Show Outline

Before you record each episode, it is a good idea to write up an outline. This is a list of the things you’ll include in this show. An outline will help you stay on track and not lose your place in the middle of recording.

Even if your podcast is as simple as just you talking with no extra clips or music, it is a good idea to give a little thought to what you are going to say. You want to make a quality show that will bring listeners back.

In addition, the outline will make it easier to create your show notes later. We’ll talk more about show notes when we talk about publishing your podcast. For now, you just need to know that show notes are an outline of what is in the show to help listeners see what they can expect to hear.

You can create your outline in whatever way works for you. It just needs to be easy for you to read as you record. It should be organized in whatever way makes sense to you.

I like to outline my shows in Microsoft Word using the outline view. Here is an example of the first half of the outline for my first episode of GothamCast:

Find something that works for you. If you think you can go from the top of your head, fine. Some podcasters just turn on the mic and ramble. Sometimes it turns out fine and sometimes it stinks. I would encourage you to use an outline as you’ll find it easier to record and your shows will turn out better.

You’ll notice I color code audio clips in red. At this stage you’ll want to decide what music you’ll lead into and out of the show with. What other audio clips will you play? What order do you want them? Maybe you have an interview clip that you want to play and then comment on.

Your outline may be more or less detailed than mine. It will probably depend on the complexity of your show or how casual or formal you want to make it.

The time will go quickly once you get started recording. You probably don’t need as much material in your outline as you think. You’ll get the feel for it as you go. Soon you’ll have a system that runs smoothly.

Writing a Script

Personally I don’t like to write out a script word for word. This tends to make things sound too rigid. Some people feel like they need an exact script. Some can read from a script and sound natural.

An outline keeps me on track but allows me to be free and natural in the way I speak. You can try an exact script if you’d like. Find out what works well for you.

Should You Record On-the-Fly or Edit in Post-Production?

There are two ways to produce your podcast: you can record it “on the fly”, in real-time as you go, or you can record it in segments then put it together and edit it after everything is recorded and you have collected all your audio.

When you record “on the fly”, you have to prepare all the audio you’ll use and have it all cued and ready to go. You hit record and then
start talking. When you want to play an audio clip or song, you press play on the player at the appropriate time while you are still recording.

This takes a lot of preparation and practice. If you make a mistake, it is harder to go back and edit. You may have to record all over again. Either that or you just leave the mistakes and live with them.

Recording “on the fly” can save you a lot of time if you can do just one take and settle for what you get. This takes experience. You need to be comfortable enough with the process to make it work.

If your show is short or very simple (for example just an intro song and you talking for ten minutes or so) then it may be easy enough for you to record “on the fly”.

Some podcasters prefer to just record and leave in whatever little mistakes might happen. There is a certain intimate and human element to doing a show like this.

Of course, you risk it not sounding as professional if you’re not experienced enough to do it in one take. You have to consider your audience and how they will perceive a show that is not polished.

For now I suggest recording in segments, collecting your audio clips and then putting it all together in post-production. Post-production is everything you do after you are done recording to get the final audio file ready for publishing to the internet.

Recording On-the-Fly
  1. Can save you a lot of time by cutting down on the amount of recording and production needed. This is a big benefit if your time is limited.
  1. Takes more experience.
  2. Takes a lot of planning.
  3. Can be harder to go back and fix mistakes. You may just have to live with them.
  4. You need more expensive equipment to use audio processing going into your computer/recorder.
Editing in
  1. You will probably end up with a more polished product that sounds more professional.
  2. You don’t have to think about so many things at once while you record. You just talk and add the other things later.
  3. You can try different audio effects and processing on your audio after it is recorded to get it just the way you want it.
  1. Takes more time after you have finished recording. Recording is usually the fun part for most people. The longer it takes you to record, the less likely you are to get around to recording.

I’ll show you how to use free audio editing software to edit and put your clips together. Don’t worry. I’ll walk you through it.

Putting the show together in post-production takes more time, but it allows you to take things one step at a time. There is less pressure to get it right all at once. It is easier to edit out or just delete mistakes.

This is the approach we are going to take for now in this tutorial: recording in segments then editing in post-production.

Collect and Organize Your Information and Audio Clips

When you write your outline, you should also pull together your research on the topics you’ll be talking about. If you’ll be commenting on something you read, you might want to print it and have it ready with your notes. If you’ll be covering news headlines, get them ready. Pull together your stories, jokes, music, or whatever else you plan to use. This is also a good time to collect the audio clips that you’ll be using into one folder on your computer.

This is the prep stage so that when you get in front of the mic and hit record you won’t freeze up. Believe me. You can be going along just fine and all of a sudden you’ll forget your name. Getting organized will help you feel confident. Recording your show will be easier if you’re prepared.

If you are going to record on-the-fly, then you will need to cue up all of your audio clips in advance. I like to use Quicktime to do this becuase you can open more than one player at a time and sitck each clip in it’s own player.

The following image shows you an audio program called Audacity which records audio. We’ll be talking about it more in a bit. You can also see several Quicktime players open to play audio clips such as my opening theme song, my outro clip and some other sounds during the show.

If you set up to record like this, you’ll also need to set the volume for each clip so that when you play a sound it’s not suddenly louder than the segment before it. If you’re going to use music underneath your talking, be sure to set the music volume low enough so that it won’t distract from what you’re saying.

That’s all I will say about that right now as later I will have a tutorial about recording on-the-fly.


A little preparation before recording a show will keep you on track and help you remember what you want to include in the show. Writing an outline is a good way to think out your show and make the recording process easier.

Before recording, it’s a good idea to write an outline, collect any information you plan on using and put all the audio clips you need in one place on your computer.

You can record a show either “on the fly” or edit it in post production. Recording “on the fly” takes careful planning and experience but can save you time. Editing the show in post-production takes more time, but it’s easier to record and polish your show this way. This is the method we will be using for now in this tutorial.

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