Podcasting, especially during live events, can be challenging. You might encounter unexpected situations that you have to deal with. Tom and Tracy walk us through how to figure out when to record, how to record, and the importance of having the best sound quality with convenience and practicality. They also share their thoughts on proper timing when it comes to doing reviews and interviews during live events. Furthermore, they introduce their state-of-the-art microphone which can record to an SD card right within the microphone and other features that will make a recording on the road much more manageable.
Welcome to the first Podetize Brandcasting You client call of 2019. We are going to share this out on Feed Your Brand because the subject matter is important and also we want to give the Feed Your Brand audience a little teaser as to what it’s like to be on a client coaching call. We thought this one would be a good subject. This episode’s subject is near and dear to my heart because I’m the one who does a lot of these and that is how to record successfully at live events or when you’re on the road. We are not in our normal studio now.
We thought it was appropriate because there’s actually a big event going on. Wendy Lipton-Dibner who’s been on the Feed Your Brand Show and Product Launch Hazzards as well, she is an impact expert. I don’t know how else to explain what she does, but it’s amazing. Her event is in Orlando. The thing is that this is not an event we’re recording in. We are not recording any podcast at the request of the host which was Wendy’s choice, but sometimes we do get asked to do that. We wanted to talk about some of the different scenarios under which this happens. This is a big ballroom. It’s complete training. There is lots of intensity and she didn’t want the distraction. That being said, we probably could have done them on the end side, but a lot of people leave town. Logistically and figuring out when to record and how to record, I think that’s the biggest issue we should talk about first.
An event is a tremendous opportunity if you go to an event that has a lot of people there. There probably would be at least half a dozen or so people that you might want to interview there. How great to be able to capture so many people in such a short period of time. I definitely understand why you might want to. We actually have several of our customers that create a whole series and sometimes publish it as its own podcast as a series or maybe it starts in their main podcast show feed and then gets split off as a special series. Scott Carson does a lot of that. There are a couple of different ways. We’re assuming a live event. It’s a whole different ballgame when you’re doing virtual events and we can talk about that another time. I think that would be a good subject at another time because we did that and you’re going to do it again.There's always something you can do to make the best out of an unexpected situation. Click To Tweet
Thinking about when in a live event you want to do your recordings is critically important. It depends on what your focus is. If you are someone who’s going to do a lot of vendor and product and there’s a trade show involved in the event and you want to do reviews or interviews of those people, doing the math at the beginning can be stressful and it doesn’t happen. Thinking about the timing of it, they’re setting up, they need their food to look perfect. Stuff hasn’t arrived. Think like them. That’s not the best time to get their attention and get them over to do an interview. It’s not going to work.
During the event, they’ve got a lot of sales calls going on and all of those things. It can be that there are points though where there’s maybe something going on the main stage and you have lower traffic. If you have a schedule ahead of time, you might be able to plan for that. Thinking about that scheduling is critically important, but I started being very unsuccessful overall with trying to get their attention because they’re going to cancel on you the minute a potential client comes right into their booth. We’d done it in ways where we did it at SoCal MakerCon. That was the very first time we had done it. That was a real trade show style event in an acoustically horrible environment. It’s a giant hall with a big dome ceiling. It was awful.
It was an old converted airplane hangar. It was not the best situation. What you have to deal with in that type of situation is a lot of background noise and you have to accept it. There are things that can be done to minimize the annoyance of that background noise in post-production and editing, but thinking about your equipment you’d be using when you’re recording and that type of environment is also very important. We had a booth that was given to us as a part of our arrangement with the organizers. This is something you can do because you’re giving them publicity. You’re giving their vendors or their speakers’ coverage. Very typically you can get your booth comped for that, but you’ve got to create a niche. You’ve got to try to figure out how to make it soundproof if possible or a little quieter.
We reoriented our booth so that was sideways rather than facing out and having people walking behind. How would we do this? We had ourselves situated sideways. People could watch but they weren’t going front or behind us and that helped in creating a lot fewer distractions while we were doing the actual interview. We created a tight end situation. We each have a mic. We gave it to our guests and we had one. I want to get deep into the tech options, but you were talking about timing and location. The most important things to consider is, is there anything you can do to make the best out of not a great situation when you’re at an event and thinking about reorienting yourself. In this case, we were shooting video and audio so we had to think about our background and turning ourselves 90 degrees from what you might typically expect at a trade show. It was a good solution for us.
Other times at different kinds of events that are not a trade show hall type of situation, but more like a seminar type of event that has maybe the main presentation room with a stage. It can be very hard to find a quiet corner there but sometimes there are other breakout rooms or even other lounge seating areas or an empty room at lunch. Also, it may be your hotel room if you’re staying in the same location. If you have a suite, that’s a situation. Here’s what I found because of having done a whole series of interviews at ChainXChange, the blockchain conference. When I went there to do that one, it was extremely difficult. They invited me to do a live there, but when we got there, the whole event space already has four stages in one big open space. They were already competing with each other. There were vendors everywhere. There was no place. The lighting was bad, so it was hard to locate with a camera and locate yourself in one single place. We ended up out in the hallway because the rooms were so dark. Even though there were closed rooms, they were so dark. It also was I couldn’t get anyone to go all the way into a room that was separate and go over there because they only had a few minutes.
I said, “I just need you for five minutes in the hallway.” We would do it as speakers came off the main stage. Remember I interviewed Woz and Molly Bloom. They were in the backstage. That was a little bit better, but the acoustics were horrible in the space because it’s the concrete floor in the back area of a hotel. The hallway was convenient for the other keynotes. As they came off stage, they would usher them through and I would run them like a gauntlet and run one after the other five minutes apiece. The problem is that people would stop to talk to them. They would go find them, so now you have talking competing around you. It’s not conducive to it. Be aware when you’re planning out your participation in one of these events that this can be difficult. Traffic & Conversion and a couple of the bigger trade shows I’ve seen have created almost like I’m going to call it a booth.As much as you can put things in your own hands, the better. Click To Tweet
They’ve created a mini sound booth because they intend to record a lot of episodes right there at the show. That can be logistically difficult to set up. It takes a lot of advanced planning and there can be some cost involved if the show is not already supporting that type of environment. I see it more at the digital marketing conferences, less at your average event. A lot of those big conferences supply that but still think about your backdrops and your other things. Those are also things you have to think about in terms of the equipment that you bring because they don’t provide that. It’s a glass window, but it has soundproof walls within it and there’s a table in some areas. That can work well, but still, I find a lot of people cancel appointments. They make an appointment, they think they’re going to show up and then they got caught watching a keynote or visiting a vendor booth and they don’t show up.
One more thing I want to mention about environments. When you’re out of your own environment, a lot of people think, “Here’s this nice soft sofa we can sit in.” It’s in a corner and it’s right by a whole bunch of windows and I want to caution you. I might think it’s common sense, but it may not be to everybody. You don’t want to be right next to the windows. That’s a highly reflective sound surface and it’s going to create more echoes. Even your common wallpaper or even a painted drywall wall that you might have near you would be better than a window. Think about that and keep that in mind.
Another thing is that a lot of those lounge areas, everything’s low, so sometimes you’re sitting up, but the table that you would put your microphone on is actually too low and too far away. Make sure you do a test record in case there’s an issue. That’s important because we had that problem in a couple of them. I couldn’t get it close enough. With that being said, sometimes you go to an event like we did South by Southwest and they provided. They had all this recording equipment and everything and thank goodness we had our tech team John, Tim and Max backing us up in doing the video that day. They put a microphone in front of us because if we hadn’t had that, the sound that they captured what they did just failed completely. We would not have had that captured at all. That would’ve been a shame, so backup sources of recording are a good idea too.
I would expect Tracy, most of our clients and people following this podcast would probably be bringing their own tech and setting up their tech in most events situations. That is an important lesson if you’re relying on the tech team at an event and they said, “Sure, you can borrow the microphone.” “Yeah, we can record that for you.” Just beware I find it oftentimes difficult to trust that they’re going to do it right. As much as you can put things in your own hands, the better. Let’s talk about some tech while we’re there. I’m going to start with a very common situation. You are on the road. Maybe you’re not even at an event. You’re at a business meeting, you’ve traveled to another city, and the guest you want to record for your podcast can only record on that day for weeks. You need to record an environment much like we’re in. If you’re going to record video, I highly recommend you try the brand with your microphone for your show. In a hotel environment, the hotel room is not a bad sound environment for recording, or at least not the most horrible one.
The lighting may not be good. Curtains are a very sound absorbing material. There’s carpet on the floor aside from maybe an air conditioner if it’s turned on, you may or may not be able to hear that. There’s a mirror over our heads, but because we’re not speaking into that, it’s fine. It’s up higher. That one’s okay. Use a good quality USB microphone plugged into your laptop when you’re sharing the mic. If you brought a guest into your room to interview them, I would recommend putting the mic between the two of you equally distanced and try to maintain the same distance away from the microphone and you’ll come up with good recording quality. Let’s say you’re going to record in an environment that is a lot more background noise. There are certain other recording devices that have additional costs than what most of us would probably use recording our podcasts. There are small ones like a very small Zoom recorder. It’s something that we use to record our own audio when we’re speaking from the stage. It has a small lav mic that goes into it, but it also has the ability to plug in all size of microphones into it.
This particular one has two slots and I bought it specifically for the purpose of being a side by side, but I had this situation at ChainXChange where we were using bigger mics. Here’s the thing about the equipment that I want to mention is that it’s a lot to lug around. When you’re doing XLR mics to a bigger Zoom device and you’ve got XLR plugs, they’re heavy. The cords are long. It’s cumbersome. You’re supposed to be a host and you’re supposed to look like a professional. If you don’t have a lot of team backing you up or a nonprofessional team backing you up, no knocks to Dave and you who backed me up. I appreciate that. It looks cumbersome. It looks ridiculous and it feels awkward. I literally had to drag the equipment and then go running to get a last-second interview with Steve Wozniak trying to set it all up. It was a lot. The next time that I needed it with two lav mics so that all I had to do was clip one on and go so that it would be a lot simpler and easy.Learn from other people’s mistakes. Click To Tweet
It works very well. The sound is actually good and there’s an SD card in it so it’s super easy to put onto your computer and then you can upload it right away that evening. It’s simple. It’s a lot less to carry and I’ve taken it to a lot of events. The one trick to that is you want to do a backup of your recording but they’ve got you hooked to a mic system with any kind of wireless mic, whether it’s handheld or clipped to you, it competes. It’s a huge problem and you have to turn it off. It’s a huge conflict. What I have done though successfully is gone and taken it with the lav to the very back of a room because it’s far enough away and taken the lav and stuck it right in front of the speaker in the back of the room. It’s not perfect, but it can get you the audio track fairly well. When you’re up at the front, it’s far enough away and you’re good, but test that before you start speaking because the sound of it is ear piercing if you screw it up.
Let’s talk about if you have only one microphone at the event and you’re interviewing somebody and you’re standing facing each other or side by side. Let’s say it’s not convenient for you to set a mic right between you on a flat surface and it’s not going to move the whole time. Your options are you hold the mic while you ask a question. You hand it to the other person while they ask a question. It gets monotonous and the microphone is not held consistently from your mouth. Every time you bring it back your sound levels get very different. It’s not the best situation. Definitely, it will be better in that situation if you could each hold your own microphone and hold of it a consistent distance from your mouth the whole time. You have to have a device that can handle two microphones and I’m sure as most of you know, even if you have two USB microphones and you plug them both into the computer, you say, “My computer has two USB ports. I can plug them both in.”
Unfortunately, your computer will only recognize one USB input device at a time. It’s only going to use one of them, so that doesn’t work. You either need a special USB interface to the computer that can take two and will use both inputs and there are such devices or using XLR cables to your conventional microphone cable that would normally go into a mixing board, a different Zoom device, a bigger one than this, which is expensive. It’s about $350 minimum one of those and it will take up to six microphone inputs, which is great. You’ve got a separate recording track for each microphone, which is wonderful for editing. As Tracy said, she used one of those at ChainXChange and it was very cumbersome to deal with. All these cables are everywhere. She was tripping over them. You had to remember you have all these certain buttons pushed on it. It wasn’t the best situation.
You can also use some of them. The more expensive ones have a little mic at the top so you can actually feel like it’s so nice. You can use that and they are pointing in two directions, so it does do better. That’s what saved us at South by Southwest. That’s on the table and it doesn’t happen to compete with the other microphone because it’s not going wireless that time so it can work, but again, it’s cumbersome to carry around. As you can imagine, we’re podcasters like you. It is a part of our businesses to the podcast. Sound quality is very important to us so as to convenience and practicality. When Tracy had this experience at the ChainXChange conference, she was so frustrated with the tech that she wanted to throw the Zoom device out the window.
I know they would’ve killed me so I didn’t, but I wanted to. We have come to realize that there’s a need for a new piece of equipment. I challenged Tom which is what I usually do when I get frustrated. I’m like, “There has to be a better way. Find me something or make it.” We have a background in product development and sourcing of product and we have developed our own microphone which is being the second generation working sample. By the end of the second quarter of 2019, we will bring that product to market. Its unique capabilities are that first of all, within the microphone, which is going to be a similar size microphone to what we’re using, it will have the ability to record to an SD card right within the microphone.
The other reason I wanted to throw those whole Zoom device out the window because it relates to the next feature that we added into it, which is that when you have the beautiful little mic block on it, you can’t always say if this button is on and you don’t see if there’s a light yourself as the host. That’s what happened to me on the Zoom device. I had to drop on the floor behind the big stage because Common was performing, the musical artist. I was trying to get an interview with GaryVee and I didn’t want to miss it. He was backstage so I turned the device and I dropped it on the ground and I have my microphone. I’m pretty sure it’s on and I’ve got the whole thing.
We record this and it was literally 60-seconds. I don’t have much longer than that. He walked away and I picked up the device and it ran out of battery and it had turned off. There were no lights on and nothing for me to know that it was off, that it didn’t happen. I had backup batteries, but how would I have been known they were running out? It was one of those things where it was so dark backstage. There was nothing I could do. I lost an interview with GaryVee. Luckily, he was very sweet and he has actually promised to come back on my show and we’ll make it happen.
We’ve built into the microphone a very well-placed led light so you know that you’re recording. You know if your battery’s running out because it will flash. It will flash enough for you to finish your conversation so that you know because we had that happen with a video camera. I couldn’t know if how much time it had left and it cut off mid-sentence. Our customers all know that we make these mic flags. We 3D print them. We either send them to you in a way that can go out with any mic or if we send the mic, it’s a more of a permanent version installed. We will get them to you as soon as you message us. Let us know. Our microphone has a customized mic flag built in. There is a card that slides down into it. We brand it for you, but it’s a permanent part of the microphone. You have that to look forward to which should make a recording on the road much easier. For our clients, you get to be our Beta test group, so you guys are going to get them.
You’ll get them before anybody else, but it is a product we are bringing to market for the world because there’s a need. If you even are going to use it as your normal microphone even if you’re on the road plugged into your computer to record a normal episode. It will record the input signal, which is you talking through the mic to the computer on one track and then your output signal from the computer going through the mic recorded as a separate track for the best editing. We’ve thought through all the tech and quality and it’s also a very high-quality microphone. I went and found the manufacturer in Asia that had the best technology and capabilities. They’re very reliable, so that’s where we’re having it made.
I want to say that there is a tremendous amount of PR value for an event to have you there. It’s all possible for you to schedule your show to be live from there and have it be an event where people actually watch you do your show like it’s a live speech. You can do things like that and orchestrate things like that, but it’s great value for them to give to their speakers and their vendors, their sponsors to be able to have an interview with you. They’re adding press value to it. That’s a great way for you to get into events that you wouldn’t have gotten into before. I’ve gotten to interview Steve Wozniak. You get to do some interesting things because of being able to do this. We want to make sure that you get the most out of it and you don’t let the tech fail on you. You know what you’re getting into and learn from our mistakes because we made them all.
Another good benefit that can happen is because we have a podcast, if we’re going to go to an event, even if it’s a paid event where you have to buy a ticket to it. Oftentimes they’ll give you a free ticket because you’re media or press. You just have to show them that you actually have a podcast and usually directing them to your website is enough. That’s what it’s been for us. It doesn’t work so well if you have a brand-new show that’s not aired yet, so you’ve got to have some episodes under your belt. I don’t think when we got invited to do SoCal, we probably had 50 episodes. It wasn’t like we had a huge catalog. It wasn’t a lot. For instance, for Consumer Electronic Show you got a free pass. That’s a show that if you don’t register by a certain date you have to pay for it, but media gets a free pass. Consider that. In order to wrap up the podcast, I want to make sure that we thank you. If you have any questions or you want to reach out to us about anything that we’ve talked about, you can find us at FeedYourBrand.co.