Regardless of where you stand in the editing debate, it is vital, imperative, and of utmost importance that you listen to your podcast before uploading it.
Look, we know what it's like. You record and it takes forever. Then you do post-production, editing, adding music, whatever. Compressing to MP3 takes a while, as does uploading. Do you really want to tack on another 10 minutes to an hour, depending on how long your podcast is, to listen to it? Not to mention the fact that since you just recorded it, and perhaps edited it, you're really not up for listening to it yet again.
Listen to your podcast before uploading it!
Yeah, you know you're entertaining, but listening to your own podcast several times gets tiring.
Still. It's worth it. Whether you want to have a professional-quality podcast or an amateur-sounding conversation, you want the podcast to be worth listening to. So take some time to listen to the final version to avoid the following pitfalls.
Sample Rate Problems
Sometimes when opening more than one track to paste in other sound files, we can mess up and mix them together. If the files are the same sample rate, that's fine, but if they are different, then you've got problems. This problem can cause your podcast to sound like half of it was done after you attended a party with too many helium balloons, or maybe like it is being played on a record player at too slow a speed. For the listeners, this is funny at best, and, at worst, annoying enough to cancel their subscription. It also makes you look like you don't know what you're doing.
It's a common mistake. Several of us have done it at the beginning. The lucky ones were those who caught it before their podcast went live; the others went blithely about their day until someone wrote them an email saying, "Uh, dude, what's up with the helium-voices in your podcast?"
If you want to include a file of a different sample rate into your podcast, make sure to include it on a separate track and mix the tracks together when you save to MP3.
Even if you know your sound program inside and out, mistakes still happen. Perhaps mistakes have a greater chance of slipping by you if you are a more experienced user of these programs, because you might think you have it all under control. So whether you're a podcasting newbie or a wily vet, you should still listen before you upload. It will benefit you and your listeners.
We recommend you do your final encoding with a sample rate of 44.1 kHz. This will make your podcast the most compatible with the various flash players used on the different podcast directories and websites. Do not use 48 kHz, because it will cause problems for either you or many of your listeners.
Factual Errors, Private Information, and More
Sometimes you don't know what you're saying is incorrect until you hear it. Odd as it may seem, the listening part of the brain is not in the same area as the speaking part. If you've ever said something and then wondered if you were correctwhether you messed up the date or time or something more substantialit's a good idea to listen to your files in order to catch these potential mistakes.
Although factual problems don't come up very often, you should give your podcast an objective listen just to catch things you may not want to say at all. Things that seem just fine when you were talking could seem different when you are listening to them, so you should give yourself a chance to decide whether what you've said might alienate your listeners (or someone close to you) or make you look ill-informed.
Along the same lines, it's possible you could have been caught in the conversational tone of the podcast and ended up talking about something that perhaps you shouldn't have. Some podcasters (or their spouses) prefer to keep their family's personal information private and don't want information such as children's names, schools, or address to go over the podcast. And then you have the "didn't think it was a problem" incident of talking about Aunt Shirley's bladder surgery, where you think it's fine and your spouse disagrees with you. Listening to a podcast will let you catch personal information and give you a chance to cut it out.
To be perfectly honest, many podcasters can lose track of time and go on and on, especially if they have a co-host to chat with. They lose the topic of the podcast, and may even get sidetracked with in-jokes and discussions that have no interest to their listeners. Topics that seem hysterical or at least interesting when you are "in the moment" may not be as funny to a third person when listened to later. We're not implying that you're boring; we're just saying that when you lose track of what you are trying to say, the interest other people have in your train of thought can wane. You can catch tangents like this by listening to your podcast before you post it.
Other problems you'd never think to catch can crop up: accidentally hitting the Paste command twice while editing the file and getting identical sound bytes one after the other, assuming background noise isn't as intrusive as it actually is, or forgetting to correct errors even after combing carefully through the file during the editing process.
Although these problems can wreak havoc on your podcast by either angering your family or embarrassing yourself in one way or another, they're all easy to fix with a quick listen and some judicious editing.
Perhaps the worst nightmare of all for podcasters is the corrupted file. You work and work on your podcast, upload it, and go to bed. Then your listeners begin to download something that sounds either like 5 minutes of silence, 15 seconds of horrendous screeching, or 10 minutes of you repeating one sentence over and over. The podosphere has seen examples of all of these, which can be caught simply by listening to your show before uploading it.
If you've ever worked with computers, you've likely heard the old adage, "save early and save often." This applies to podcasting as well. Save the uncompressed file before you edit. If you want to be really careful, then save after every editing step you take. Make sure to save the final, uncompressed edited file. This ensures that if you make a mistake somewhere along the way, you should be able to go back only a few steps to fix it. Re-recording the podcast from scratch is not fun.
We do understand how busy life can get, and how you're lucky if you find time to podcast regularly, much less edit and then listen to the final product. But if you want your podcast to sound good to your listeners' ears (instead of making them bleed), consider editing and giving the podcast a listen before uploading. Although these steps take time, they're simple to do and worth it to avoid embarrassment and the potential of lost subscribers.