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Best Practices for Maximizing Studio Time

So you’ve taken a big step in your podcasting journey – you’ve booked studio time at a professional recording studio! Wow! That’s a great move! Recording your podcast at a professional recording studio will help you get crystal clear recordings for each episode, significantly improving your show, but it can also be a little daunting…just how do you make the most of your slot at the studio, without wasting valuable time, or the money spent on booking the session?

That’s a really important question! In response, we’ve put together a list of some of our top tips to help you maximize your studio time and get that awesome recording you’re after, all while enjoying the experience to its fullest.

1. Arrive Early

When it comes to studio time, you cannot afford to arrive just before your recording session is set to begin. You need to arrive substantially early. This is because getting all set up with the microphones and headphones, doing all the tech checks, and just making sure everything is ready can take some time. If you only arrive as your session starts, all this prep will eat into your recording time and may put you behind schedule with all the content you have to get through. Most studios cater for some prep time before a session is set to start, so capitalize on that and get there early! 

2. Be Prepared

I actually cannot stress enough how important being prepared for your recording session is! So much of what it takes to maximize your studio time hinges on this one point. This preparation includes (but is not limited to!) having your notes or outlines ready when you walk through the doors of the studio, and it also includes going over your outline a few times at home so that you flow through the content as smoothly as possible while you’re in the studio. Even just preparing in these two areas can make a world of difference to your studio time. Stopping and starting as you try to think of ways to move to the next point, or if you’re still working on content during your session will simply waste the time you’ve booked, and may even prevent you from getting a complete recording.

Pro Tip: In your preparation process, you should consider jotting down a few phrases you could use to transition from section to section. That way, you won’t “get stuck” and you’ll keep a good flow and rhythm going throughout the recording.

Related read: How To Plan for Recording Your First Podcast Episode.

3. Warm Up Your Voice

In podcasting, your voice is as much a tool in the recording process as your microphone and editing software. And just as you should aim to learn all the best ways to utilize your software, you should pay the same attention to your voice. One way to do this is to strengthen the quality and enhance the tone of your voice by doing vocal exercises daily, but particularly before you are set to record. These exercises will get your voice sounding it’s absolute best before you’ve even sat down in the studio. If your voice is all warmed up beforehand, you can dive straight in and start recording, using every minute of your session to its fullest.

4. Get Comfortable

When those impressive headphones are attached to your ears, it can be very difficult to hear anything else besides your voice, or that of your guest, pumping through the airways. However, because of this, you may not be noticing any of the noises you may be making, and so Tip #4 is to get comfortable. As you get seated, find a position that will be both comfortable for a sustained period of time, as well as finding one that is an appropriate distance from the microphone. Don’t swing or move around too much in your chair, try not to fidget, and be careful of using your arms too much as you talk. These sounds can easily creep onto your recording, making your editing process complicated, or even ruining parts of the recording, forcing you to go back and re-record. You should ensure that if your cell phone is in the studio, the ringer is off and all vibrations have been deactivated, and you should also steer clear of click pens when you’re in the middle of a recording. The temptation to click them is usually just too great, besides the fact that this is often done subconsciously! 

5. Relax

I get it, stepping into a professional recording studio can be intimidating! You’re surrounded by fancy tech, there are other people in the room, focusing on you, and you’ve got a limited time to “get it right” – it can all be the cause of much anxiety! That’s why another great tip for maximizing your studio time is to simply relax. Take a few deep breaths in and out and remind yourself that you can do this. Being a little nervous is okay, but too much can be debilitating and can actually prevent you from being at the top of your game. Your thorough preparation beforehand will really go a long way to helping you feel more relaxed, as it will give you confidence in your content and a certain amount of security as you know what comes next.

Another tip to help you relax is to remember that everyone in the studio with you is there to help you, not to judge you. Remembering this can help alleviate some of the pressure you may be feeling to get a perfect recording, as well as helping to remove the fear of making a mistake. With this in mind, you should be able to move efficiently and easily through all your content.

6. Practice Makes Perfect

We’ve already covered how important it is to be prepared before your session at the recording studio, but for this Tip, we need to get a little more specific. In your preparation, you should set time aside to do practice run-throughs of your episode. This will help you iron out any parts of the episode you keep tripping over, and it allows you to talk about your content with confidence come recording time. When you’re practicing, you could even use your cell phone to record yourself practicing for the episode. This will help you get more comfortable with hearing your voice, it will help you hear where to add the appropriate inflections and emotions, and it will help you find the right rhythm and tempo. If you’ve got this nailed beforehand, you’ll simply sail through your recording session!

Pro tip: Even if you’ve practiced till you’re near perfect, a few mistakes are inevitable. But we’ve got a great tip to help you out! Before the sound engineer hits “record”, you should decide what your “cut” signals will be. Having these types of signals in place means you can just keep on recording, even if mistakes have been made, as the signals will make it super easy to edit those out after the fact. Limiting the stopping and starting of your recording will help you stay focused on the task at hand and it will really help you make the most of your studio time.

7. Be Yourself

It’s a strange human tendency that when placed in front of a microphone, we feel the need to change the way we speak. Some shout, others talk too softly or too quickly, and still others, in an effort to sound more knowledgeable or to be better understood, will put on an accent, or change their normal speech rhythm. Not only will all of these make your recording sound weird and unnatural, but they can also inhibit you from finding your natural rhythm and can, therefore, cause unnecessary delays during your studio time. If you have confidence in yourself, your voice, as well as your message, you’ll glide through the content, getting all you need and more recorded in your allocated time slot.

8. Prep Your Guests

If you’re conducting an interview with a guest, another way to make sure you get the most out of your recording time is to prep them beforehand. This is especially important if your guest is not particularly used to being in front of a microphone. One of the easiest ways to do this is to give them a cheat sheet containing your recording tips and tricks, as well as a list of some of the most important do’s and don’ts of audio recording. You should also send your guest a list of the questions and content you plan to cover during the interview. This gives your guest time to craft and prepare their responses or insights, rather than using up recording time to think of what they want to say. Allowing your guests adequate time to prepare has the added bonus of giving your listeners the best possible content, as you’ll enable your guests to bring their best stuff in terms of their expertise, wisdom, and knowledge. 

Pro Tip: If you are interviewing a guest, you should make time to connect with them before the scheduled interview. Use this time to cover all the small talk and the catching-up of other life developments, so that they don’t need to be covered when you meet up in the studio. If you do this before your interview, you won’t waste any time when you’re supposed to be focusing on the recording, which will do wonders in maximizing your studio time! 

Check out this related read: 8 Best Practices for Podcast Interviews

Closing Thoughts

Recording your podcast episodes at a professional studio will help take the overall quality of your podcast to the next level. But even if you’re not quite ready to book a session just yet, these best practices for maximizing your recording time are not limited to professional studios – they can help you get a better recording from wherever you podcast. Try putting these into practice the next time you get ready to hit “record” and you and your podcast will definitely reap great results!

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