Using Skype to conduct remote interviews with guests for your podcast is fairly straightforward and can be remarkably effective. However, due to the potential inexperience of your guests with this sort of procedure the resultant interviews can often be of sub-optimal audio quality.
The following simple tips can help to significantly improve the audio quality of a podcast interview conducted via Skype (or any other VoIP based system) ensuring that you and your guest come across at your very best in the final podcast.
Educate your Guests
As a podcaster conducting remote interviews with guests you are probably well aware of the potential problems associated with using Skype to record interviews in domestic or office environments and the external influences that can unduly affect the final audio quality.
Unfortunately however, your guests are less likely to be as well informed about the relative pros and cons of recording clean audio, particularly via Skype, and of the simple actions they could take to alleviate many of the common issues that can plague a recording.
In this respect you can help to educate your guests about a few common pitfalls associated with recording audio and some relatively simple things that can be done to reduce the affect of external influences to improve the overall audio quality.
The following tips for your guests should help you and your guest come across at your best in your podcast Skype interview:
Reduce Unwanted Noises
- Mute your cell-phone, or preferably switch it off altogether
- Close all programs on your computer that make sounds, e.g. email, Facebook etc.
- In your Skype settings click the “Mute all sounds” button on the “Sounds” tab to eliminate Skype sounds from the podcast
- Close external windows and doors to minimize noises from outside
- Ask anyone in the house to be quiet whilst you’re being interviewed
- Switch off TVs, radios and stereos, or turn their sound right down
- Switch off noisy air-conditioning or fans
- Don’t fidget: eliminate chair noises, table kicks, pen clicks, paper rustling etc.
- Use a room with soft furnishings rather than an echoey room like a kitchen
- Close the curtains / drapes in your room as this helps to reduce echoes
- Don’t touch your microphone during the interview
- Use headphones (e.g. your MP3 player’s ear-buds) instead of your computer’s speakers so your microphone doesn’t pick up an echo of the interviewer’s voice
Optimize your Internet Connection
- Hardwire your computer to your internet router with a CAT5 / Ethernet cable
- If you can’t hardwire to your router, get as close to the Wi-Fi router as possible
- Turn off Skype video to reduce the load on your internet connection
- Ensure no internet intensive tasks are running on your network e.g. video streaming
- Have a glass of lukewarm water handy in case your mouth becomes dry
- Speak close to your microphone (approx. 5 inches away)
- Make sure your audio is coming from the correct device / microphone in Skype
- Try to maintain a consistent distance from your microphone
- Pause to collect your thoughts if you require; edits can always be made
- Reboot your computer to ensure it is operating optimally
- Close ALL unnecessary programs (e.g. iTunes) to reduce the load on your computer
The above list is also available as a free, downloadable PDF. Please feel free to download it and pass it on to your potential guests:
Download Skype Interview Guidelines PDF v1.0
I would like to thank Cliff Ravenscraft (Podcast Answer Man), Mike Russell (Music Radio Creative) and Ann Hawkins (The Social Media Show) for taking their time to review my list. So as not to offend Mike and the delicate sensibilities of other Apple users I removed the term “PC” in favour of “computer”; even though PC stands for Personal Computer!
I would also like to thank Ray Ortega (The Podcasters’ Studio) for his suggestions and help in steering me away from too much geek-speak; all gratefully received.
If you have any other points to add to the list that you think I’ve missed out, please let me know in the comments below and I shall endeavour to add them (the good ones at least).
Thanks in anticipation.
The Skype logo is a trade mark of Skype and this blog is not affiliated, sponsored, authorised or otherwise associated by/with the Skype group of companies.
Fantastic! Thanks for the tips. I have already implemented most of them.
Richard Farrar commented
Jeff Brown commented
Well done, Richard. Nice work!
Richard Farrar commented
Thanks Jeff. I hope it may be of some use to you. If you think it needs any additions, please let me know.
I’m recording with someone via Skype. They have a mixer and will be recording with that. I will be using a USB mic. Is there a way to make it sound as if we’re in the same room without requiring much, more editing work? Like software I could download for my end? Thanks!
Richard Farrar commented
Hi Jason, Yes there is software to do this. On the Mac you could try Call Recorder or on a Windows PC Pamela. Hope this helps.