Discuss: Best way to sound as though you are not reading a script during host-on-mic episodes?

Would love the group’s thoughts on this topic.

For context, please take a listen to a portion of my recent episode on John Fogerty’s baseball anthem, Centerfield: https://www.heavyhittersports.com/

My son and I listened to the piece during a walk yesterday. In general, my son’s critique was kind (god bless him). But he did highlight something that I, and perhaps you, wrestle with. And that’s the host-on mic balance between being prepared with a script and not sounding like you are directly reading from the copy.

I personally enjoy the dynamic give and take of an interview more than the recording a host on mic episode. My son’s suggestion was to craft a bullet point outline rather than a true word-for-word script. As further backdrop, here is the estimated time-breakdown for my hot-on-mic episodes:

Research: 50% (generally involves reading a related book and doing internet checks)…I enjoy the learning aspect, but it does suck up valuable time

Arranging and scripting copy: 25% (very enjoyable for me because this stage involves crafting the actual story)

Recording on Garageband: 10% (not as enjoyable; and by this point I often just want to painlessly wrap up the work while trying to sound decent)

Final editing and splicing different elements together on Garageband: 15% (just the necessary work that’s fun enough)

After listening to this recent episode and giving the notion some thought, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks. Have a great long weekend.

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I’m terrible at this! I recently did a host-on-mic from a script for an episode. After it was edited, and I heard its deadly dullness in my voice, I scrapped it and did one off the top of my head. MUCH better! Lots more energy! I’d agree with bullet points being a help. That’s what I’ve always done when giving speeches, and it’s worked for me. And for a podcast, you can always edit out the pauses or stumbles! Good luck!

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Hi Mark,

I enjoyed your Fogerty episode (Willie Mays was my childhood baseball hero too.) I also listened to Ms. Emerick’s episode to get a feel for the difference.

I can’t articulate it, but parts of the Fogerty episode feel like a hurried walk to get to the next paragraph.

If you wish to slow it down, or there’s a point you want the listener to ponder, consider adding pauses or space into the written sentences or paragraphs on your actual script. This forces a slight pace drop.

When I do a scripted solo episode I’ll always add space as if someone attacked my sentences with Wite-Out. Otherwise, I hurry to get to the next sentence.

Consider taking a minute of the Fogerty script, add space, record it and compare it to the original.

Peace and Keep Shipping,

~ Emeric

Emeric McCleary
Podcaster/Teacher/Encourager

The My Spouse Died Too podcast host
https://www.myspousediedtoo.com

T 513.260.3649

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@Hoagie
Thank you for asking, and for your example of continually working to make your podcast even better, just like an athlete pursuing the Olympics.

Sometimes when I listen to someone’s podcast after they’ve asked for suggestions, I have no idea what to say. But this time I do, and it’s because I’ve listened to and enjoyed other episodes of Heavy Hitter Sports.

This time, I stopped at 2:24 because I think I figured out why I didn’t enjoy this episode as much, even though I like baseball okay (sacrilege, I know) and am a fan of CCR.

When I listen to your interview episodes, I can tell how much you are enjoying the conversation with the guest. It shows in the comfortable banter and tone of voice.

About host-on-mic, you wrote, “not as enjoyable; and by this point I often just want to painlessly wrap up the work while trying to sound decent.” My guess is that your lack of enjoyment might be showing, and emotions are contagious.

Slowing down would help with the pace but if you’re still not enjoying it, changing the speed won’t completely solve it. So, I’d ask, “What would make you enjoy recording the episode as much as you enjoy arranging and scripting the copy?”

Hmm… thinking… when you do your interview episodes, which you do so well, you are interacting with a person. When you do your host on mic episodes, are you imagining that you are speaking to one person? That’s a trick that helps me with my HoM episodes. Or could you invite your son (or someone who fits your ideal listener) to sit with you while you record them? Or…

What sounds good to you, that would increase your level of enjoyment with this part of the process?

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@Emeric @craig

Emeric, thanks so much for your feedback. I think you’re dead on. I’ve been too conscious of shortening my episodes and tightening sentence breaks. Slowing down, altering my pacing and changing my voice inflection will definitely help.

I really enjoyed listening to your talk with Craig. Love your ‘panning for gold’ episode. I will check out a couple of your podcast episodes during the upcoming week as I believe my sister-in-law could really benefit from your show.

Cheers. And thanks again.

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@JuleKucera @Emeric @craig

Jule, really appreciate you taking the time to listen to the episode and sharing your thoughts. I am definitely going to make an effort to slow down. And yes, I clearly do enjoy the interviews more than going solo. I believe you’re asking the write question…what would make me enjoy recording solo episodes more? I have some answers in mind, but I want to reflect on that question for awhile.

Initially, for my solo recordings I did imagine speaking to one person, but I forgot to do so on this Fogerty piece. I do think that trick is helpful.

Really appreciate your help and insight. I just listened to your most recent episode. Loved it. You do such a great job with your gentle but probing follow-up questions. Really enjoy your pacing and conversational tone and vibe. Keep up the great work.

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@Hoagie

Happy to help!

Also thanks for listening to my podcast–I’ve gotten to the point where I am no longer falling off my chair at some of the guest answers to, “What’s the hard time you’ll be talking about today?” It’s a big world out there, a lot of hard stuff happens, and people are amazingly resilient.

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@JuleKucera

Certainly. I love your show concept. It so beautifully leads to a compelling and interesting story arch. And your guests (aka heros) seem so eager to share their most poignant (and generally painful) moments in their lives. Very true re people’s resilience.

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Always an interesting question for those of us playing with the idea of adding host-on-mic, dropping guest interviews, changing it up @Hoagie.
Having read thru our Cohorts’ insightful comments following I now understand that you wish to keep going with host-on-mic; and are looking for a means to make it as enjoyable for you as interviews. Is that accurate?
Because 1 is style and the other is engagement.
How to blend the two?
Platform skills are easy enough to practice to bring more sizzle & fizzle to the host on mic.
Question: how are you engaging with yourself as if you were/are the guest?

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Great question, @JuleKucera!

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@JuleKucera

Good question. I think making an effort to view the recording as ‘theatrical fun’ rather than the final ‘task’ in the podcast process. And taking my time and not rushing the recording.

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Yes, my plan is still to do both host-on-mic and interview podcasts. Another interesting question. Makes me think of treating myself as the ‘talent’ as I do my interview quests. Thanks.

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@Hoagie That’s a intriguing idea. It will be an interesting experiment!! :man_scientist:

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Has anyone experimented with changing what they’re looking at while trying to record?

It occurs to me that when I’m recording introductions in post-production, or host-on-mic, I’m staring at my audio software and the digital document. The audio interface, which also has the digital meter-levels on it, is also in view. I’m at my desk, staring at my usual computer, etc…

I’m wondering what would happen if I printed the words out (or used hand-written notes—your choice), set my levels and pressed record. And then either arranged things so I can stare out my window (a bit of turn to one side) or changed my computer monitor to a chosen image… or even a youtube channel of something (fireplaces, etc)

??

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Craig, for a while I hung a drawing of a smiling person that represented my ideal listener. Hmm… might want to go back to that.

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I set up a statue my kids had of Darth Vader! :joy: I talked to him!

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:grinning: Creative idea. I guess my only concern would be if Darth talked back.

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Carole (@clevpt ) and I talked about this for part of our episode today, Circumspection - with Carole Blueweiss

@craig @clevpt

Craig, I just listened to the episode and gained some excellent insight from both you and Carole re the topic of ‘sounding natural’ while talking to yourself essentially. Thanks.

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