Tips for Podcasting with Multiple Guests
One great way to podcast is with guests in-studio or co-hosts where more than one podcaster gets on mic. While there’s something to be said for the single voice doing a monologue or perhaps doing interviews, the show dynamics change quite a bit when you get multiple people gathered together over your favorite topic.
For one thing, it’s a lot easier to carry on a conversation! Another bonus is with the right dynamic between hosts, an energy is created that subscribers see and hear in every episode. There are some specific things to be aware of when doing a show with multiple guests.
- Have a mixer with enough channels. The mixer becomes a crucial piece of equipment when co-hosts become part of the production. You can try the one mic, two voices approach, but the end result is hard to control and mix in post-production. For the best sound and optimal control, all participants need their own microphones. This means XLR connections, not USB, for microphones. Two hosts and you’ll need two channels. Four hosts, four channels. And don’t forget, you may want a few extra inputs for music, sound effects, and more. So make sure the mixer can handle the in-studio demands.
- Make sure everyone can hear. You’re wearing headphones when you record. So should your guests, especially if drop-ins are included in your recording. It’s not only fair, it’s practical that everyone hears the same thing. Each guest needs his or her own set of headphones. Before you run out and get a cheap “Y” cable to split the signal, realize that with each split, the audio signal degrades. To keep the investment economical, invest in a stereo headphone amplifier for about $25 that takes the headphone signal and splits (while boosting) it in to four separate channels. Then pick up from BSW a 5-pack of Sennheiser headphones for you and your co-hosts or guests. You’ll find this investment will serve you and your podcast well.
- Always do your prep work. Even after a decade of podcasting, there are still gremlins in our audio systems. You can record on Saturday afternoon and come back Sunday night only to find audio levels have been adjusted. Okay, it could be the cats playing with the mixer settings in the middle of the night, but it never hurts to check your audio (and video) settings before each recording.
- Have one director. This is the person in charge of your show’s flow, timing, and in some cases coming up with clever segues to jump from one topic to the next. Usually this is the person at the mixer, but not always. It may even be someone off mic (or camera) giving hand signals. In some cases, this may be a baton passed from person to person in the cast. You’ll find what works best for your group. The podcaster calling the plays serves as a moderator. It is your job to keep the energy up, the conversation going, and keep the episode on track.
- Give everyone some air time. As with the previous item, the director may need to make sure everyone gives everyone else a chance to talk. Different people bring different things to your show. Some people may be passionate and outspoken (and some may be considered an unstoppable train), while others don’t want to interrupt and wait their turn. Encourage your guests to play fair and give everyone a share the air time. Discuess this among your co-hosts before it becomes a problem.
- When guests are in-studio or on the line, give them the majority of air time on that episode. Both Chuck and Tee have seen and heard their fair share of interviews gone bad. It can be something as horrific as the host or hosts not knowing (or caring) to do any research on the guest. Tee recalls one podcast where the co-hosts broke on a tangent between themselves for ten minutes while the guest remained silent on the line, waiting to be asked another question. When guests are on the docket, remember that the episode is no longer yours. It’s theirs.
- Make sure everyone can see everyone else. It’s been said that as much as 93 percent of our communications is nonverbal. Even if you are doing an audio podcast, you want to be able to see each other during the conversation. Configure your studio to make sure everyone can see everyone else in order to have eye contact, see silent signals to pick up the pace or slow down, and let the director know all have something to say. Being able to read each other’s nonverbal cues is made easier when sightlines are clear and unobstructed — well, most of the time.
Be aware that your show will be longer as you include more guests in the conversation. If you want to keep your show length consistent, then include fewer topics than you expect.