As things slowly start getting back to normal and more places open, events will be right around the corner. And with that comes doors of opportunities. But are you prepared for live media coverage? In this episode, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard share helpful podcast recording advice to help you get ready for a whole new world of podcasting. Get valuable insights on the right equipment to bring and the right attitude to carry before stepping out.
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Prepared For Big Events? Podcast Recording Advice For Getting Good Media Live
We’re going to talk about live events. What is a live event, Tracy? I don’t remember.
Do you know where actual people go? I forget who used to talk about going belly-to-belly. I don’t want to be that close to anyone. I’m not ready for that but I love to be around people. I’m an extrovert, which means that I thrive off the energy of the group. Lots of introverts get drained from that but I’m the opposite of that. I missed that. You can only get energized so much. Luckily, I have two very energetic daughters who have been helping me out. I’m excited for live events. We have had some scheduled, but all of a sudden, I realized nothing was packed and ready. I had to rethink my whole go-to bag, which I used to have ready to go to do interviews because sometimes I get called to go up to LA to do last-minute interviews, attend a celebrity event and do interviews there. You have to be ready for it.
Are you prepared for big events? We’re going to give you some podcast recording advice for getting good media lives. We’re going to talk about the recording side of it, the prep and the things you might want to bring or do ahead of time when you’re going to go to an event and record your podcast, segments or interviews live. Sometimes I’ll record segments and interviews then compile them into an episode later using sound bites, bits and pieces or something to drive off. We’re going to talk about that general idea because we’ve got to get ready. It’s a different world. Everything on Zoom, everything we’ve been doing and recording remotely is easy. We’ve all got that down. Now, we’re going to do this in a different way. Tom, what do we usually bring with us?
Equipment-wise, you need to bring a good microphone. One of my pandemic pet peeves has been we see all sorts of people now, even on television programs, being interviewed and part of guest panels. They’re doing it remotely from home as they should be and don’t have a good quality microphone. Their audio quality is horrible and I can’t stand listening to it. Bring a good microphone. We always recommend having a good microphone. AT2005 is the one that’s a commercial one. If any of you got a microphone from us, it’s probably that.
There was a time during the pandemic when mics were out of stock, so we had to have some alternate. It’s still an Audio-Technica, a Cardioid Dynamic microphone. The point is these microphones are directional. They’re meant to record 1 or 2 people in close proximity, and not to pick up all the background noise in the room. If you’ve got an older microphone or even a new one that’s like a Yeti, that’s what’s called a condenser microphone. Those tend to pick up way too much background noise.
This is what you don’t realize. You test it at home and think, “This is going to sound great.” You end up in a ballroom with giant ceilings, the hum and buzz of noise, and it sounds terrible. This is what we have discovered over time, the more expensive mics you go, the worse the sound it is in a live setting like that. There’s no amount of adjusting the settings on it. It’s going to get it right and take you hours to figure it out. We tried it and it still doesn’t get right. It’s great in a sound booth. That’s what it’s supposed to be for. It’s just not great at a live event like that. These directional mics that you want and what we recommend are what we use here. I wish our microphone was done. Thanks to the pandemic. Our mic was designed because it fails at big events from taking microphones, equipment and having too much together.
Keep in mind that you’re comfortable with your setup likely of recording to your computer. That’s probably where you’ve been comfortable with for quite some time. You’ve got that comfort level of having your microphone and computer, which you’re comfortable with the distance to the mic that you usually do for your settings. It’s a different environment when all of a sudden, you’re covering two people. What we want to do is that we have it set, especially because my voice is so much louder and carries so much more than Tom’s. We have the microphone set at a farther distance from me than it is from Tom. We do that on purpose here because we know the dynamic of our voice. You don’t always know that with the person you’re going to interview. If you’re doing the microphone to computer setup, you’re still using a computer cam or even a tripod with a camera on it, which is another optional piece of equipment you can do. No matter what you’re doing, you’ve got to record that somewhere. You’ve already got your computer and it works just fine.
Carrying around and getting extra devices are possible. This is a simple setup. Let’s go for the simple thing. You’ve already got this going on. Choosing the distance between your microphone, test it in the space ahead of time and with people who talk quietly and loudly like me and project because you’re also going to have the situation where you’re not going to be able to tell how it is because of all the sound you’re going to be hearing around you. You’re not going to have a good sense of how that sound came out. Go into space when it’s busy. Don’t go in before nobody is there. Check it out and try it out ahead of time.In a live event, you only get one shot at the recording. Click To Tweet
There are many ways to record. The simplest thing is if you can have your computer and use it the way you normally would, then by all means, do that. Not everybody wants to carry around a computer to an event. Most of us have a computer in our hands with our smartphones. I have an Apple device. You’re going to have a USB adapter that will plug into your phone. If you just wanted to record audio, a simple Voice Memo app on your phone will do. I use an iPhone that has a Voice Memo app built in. Plugin the microphone with a little adapter, you have to get it from Apple and it will record fantastic sound. Your phone will use your USB microphone.
They make the same thing for Samsung and all kinds of Android devices. There’s no issue there. The big thing to do is that cable that Tom was referring to plugs into whatever your port is, USB-C or Lightning on an iPhone. The other end is the USB. Buy the one for the Apple devices. We have discovered the ones get glitchy. Your microphone might cut in and out. You won’t even know that until you listen to the recording later. In a live event, you only get one shot at the recording especially if you’re interviewing a celebrity. This is why we invented our microphone because it upset me so much that went wrong. The other thing that I recommend is buying two cables and having them with you because you may discover that they do go bad quickly or get crimped in your bag. Things happen to them. Having an extra one of those cables is not that expensive. It’s completely worth having a backup. It doesn’t take a lot of space.
If you’re going to go live at an event, which is also not a bad thing to do, you don’t have to record an entire episode live. You could use a portion of a live recording as a clip in a subsequent podcast episode. There are a lot of options there. You could go live on Facebook right from your phone with the Facebook app. Plugging your microphone into your phone is going to use that good quality microphone. If you’re getting both of you in the frame of the camera and you’re holding up the camera, you’re going to want to be close enough to your guest so that you can hold a microphone between the two of you and it will pick you both up.
Here’s the thing. Hand the microphone to your guest. Hold the selfie stick. Don’t make them hold the camera or get somebody else. Bring somebody with you. This is what teenagers are for. Go drag them to an event with you, “Look how cool it is. You’re going to get to meet great people and be my lackey.” That’s what we want. Let’s bring them in. This is the way because what you’re going to find is that there’s an overwhelm of equipment. You’re trying to figure out, “How am I holding my phone?” Especially if you don’t have a setup, table or space, you’re going to the quietest corner you can find in the ballroom or on a red carpet. This is it. Ladies out there, get dresses with pockets, skirts or pants. You always need to drop your phone and put the recording device somewhere. You need the extra cable. All of those things are essential.
I’m a big fan of polo shirts with pockets.
You’re going to want those because this is an issue. You want to be in the moment of getting to meet this person, shake their hand, doing a great interview, being attentive to them and not worrying about the equipment that you’re holding, carrying and doing. Simpler is better in whatever way you can do with that. If you can get help, that’s even better. Let them worry about everything. Always double-check. Make sure the recording is on. Double-check with everyone because this is a huge problem that I’ve had again and again. Battery backups, making sure you’re fully charged and you can charge in between interviews. All of that can go very wrong.
That’s of critical importance too. Making sure you’ve got backups for all of those things and work a time built into your schedule so that you can charge your devices because you may find that the optimum location to record is nowhere near a plug. You’ve got to scope that space out and find that optimum sounding space. Sometimes we’ve had lots of issues finding the right space to record it at our events. Let’s talk about the 2020 Super Bowl event. That space was super challenging.
We were doing a Podcast Publicity Pop-Up event. It is what we had been doing up to that point, which at any event nurturing and fostering the idea, “There are all sorts of great people at this event. Let’s bring in some podcasters local to the area, someone who travels on this since that’s great and record a whole bunch of great people. Let everybody get a lot of great interviews recorded in a short period of time.”
It’s a little blitz-like because if you’re a guest, you can go from one to the next, especially if they’re a celebrity, it’s efficient in the process of it. The PR people and publicists love it because it’s efficient. They said, “So-and-so is going to be in for two hours. They can conduct four interviews in that time period.” They go or give their speech and then they do two hours. If they’ve got that and you’ve got them, it’s wonderful to be able to connect up and get those kinds of one-on-one interviews. The thing is that they’re typically shorter interviews. Keep that in mind. If you normally do a 30-minute show or interview with someone, you’re not going to get that. You might get fifteen minutes and they will be shorter. In some places, they’re even shorter than that.
This was a big part of our plan for 2020. Fortunately, we still did well in 2020 as a company. This part of our plan tanked because events stopped by mid-March 2020. We would have done a whole lot more and planned to do more going forward. Here is an example. We had told the event organizers, “We’re going to be recording a bunch of podcasts interviews. We need an appropriate venue and space to record them in with a carpet on the floor. The smaller rooms are better than larger rooms.” We got there and they said, “We have the best place for you.” They took us to it and it is the worst environment possible. It was a room 50 yards long. It had a hardwood floor and all these glass windows. The sound is reflecting everywhere. We were like, “This is not going to work.”
Zero carpets and curtains. There’s no furniture even in it. There’s nothing dampening the sound in it and then it had these two patios.
We said, “We’re going outside with this. We can’t do it inside.”
The ceilings were lower on the patios. Now, you have outside sounds. With the directional mics that we’re using, the way those cardioid mics record, you don’t get a lot of that sound. Because they were also sitting lower on, we put them on lounge furniture. This is a view out into the ocean in Miami. The barrier that was there kept all the sound nice and in for what was being recorded. You could hear a little bit of wind over the top but it wasn’t bad. It was certainly something that you could mostly edit out or downplay in the editing because it was consistent sound.
To the extent, you did hear white noise from the city around us, it made the interview on location real. It wasn’t a bad thing.
It wasn’t so loud that it was distracting. We made it work, although we had a bug problem. There were lots of other things you never anticipate at what goes on at live events. Luckily, everybody was so gracious and wonderful. The best part about our Podcast Publicity Pop-Up, the Podetize ones that we do, is that we bring equipment for the podcasters so that all they have to do is show up and sit down. We’re taking care of the recording for them. We’re using a higher-powered Zoom device.
It’s a digital audio recorder. We had separate good HD video cameras recording the video. We would combine the audio and video separately. You can do things like that if you want to. What we do at these pop-up events, we plan it ahead and bring in a lot of equipment. We bring in lights that we needed, tripods and cameras but you don’t always have to do that. If you want to be a little less formal and easier to deal with, the modern cell phone connected to a good quality microphone is a great solution whether you’re recording audio-only or video.Be flexible and be the go-to person there who’s willing to take it. Click To Tweet
I’ve seen some people come with lavs hooked to their iPhone and Zoom recording devices. The thing is that the lavs tend to not work as well as you think.
What Tracy is talking about is a lapel microphone that’s called a lav mic. Those are the little things that you see people use on television and at events.
Those microphones tend to not work because sometimes there’s not a great place to hook them. People have jewelry that interferes and it can always be risky. I have seen people use them successfully and I’ve also seen them go bad. That’s a risky one but they are a lot smaller to carry around and it seems appealing. If you do not test it ahead of time and you buy the wrong device, you can go wrong and can’t get two separated mics. You end up with one that you’re standing there holding between you because the two mics don’t work.
I would rather hold a big mic that has my brand or show name that if I’m on video, we’re promoting our brand the whole time. You’re sure not going to have a green screen behind you.
Imagine if you hand that to a celebrity who is now holding your brand in their hand. It’s way better than those little mics. That’s why we prefer this model of it. The sounds on these are so much better. The lavs tend to have rustling and other things that interfere with it. While they’re not bad in that they don’t pick up all of the environment around them, you do still hear a lot of background noise that is going on from the movement. Think through microphones and where are you going to record? What are you going to do with the video? Are you going to go live? Are you going to carry cameras with you or have someone carry on a camera? Are you going to use your phone? What are you going to do with that?
I still prefer the whole idea of keeping it simple and if you can get a table. If you can work with the organizer to get a space, I like to get a stand-up table. That’s my preference. You can get a stool in case everybody has been standing all day. I’m short, so even if I stood up someone on a stool, they’d still be taller than me. You can get stools to pop yourself up there. A stand-up table gives me the opportunity to stand up, hold the mic, step back, have my computer on the table and not be talking into the computer, be able to use my normal camera setup or a tripod on the other side of the table with a higher quality camera and you can still do all of that relatively simply. It gives you a place to drop things and a better setup.
These tables are very common at events. Every hotel that has an event space has this standing-height table. They might call it a bar height table. It’s a little round one and usually has this fabric that stretches over it right to the base so that you don’t see the pole.
I keep that extra fabric piece, a black one, in my bag at all times. In that way, if it’s awful and ugly, I can throw that cloth over it because that doesn’t take up a lot of space. I’ve got that stashed away in my suitcase. Those things make it simple. It’s easier and also creates this separation between other people who might start to crowd in while you’re interviewing. You’ve got that table between you. That’s helpful to the recording process to create that intimacy of making sure that there aren’t people crowding into you because what happens when you’re recording with someone and you don’t have the big amount of equipment? If you’re just recording audio with it, people get closer to hear you. They’re crowding in and it’s very distracting.
If they’ve got a publicist, they are sitting there tapping their watch on you. That’s exactly what happened to me and Gary Vee. We had two minutes and I was getting tapped. These kinds of things go on at the events too. Anytime you can create a barrier and space for yourself that says, “This is the recording space,” then you’re going to be better off. Also, you’re not moving around the space. You’ve got this one location. You can also go to the booths or other areas where you’ve got some classes and courses going on. You can go grab someone and bring them back and interview them. You now have a space to bring them back to or send them and say, “Meet me in that spot at 2:30.” That’s going to be helpful to also schedule your time.
We talked about when we do these Publicity Pop-Up events. We bring in a lot of equipment, some lights and things too. What do you recommend people do if it’s a little less formal? They’re trying to bring minimal equipment but they are going to record a video. Should they have a small light? Is there an appropriate small light that would be of any benefit?
Some of the better cameras have a light that can attach to them. Remember when we used to have flashed on top of them? There are some of these aftermarket lights that you can buy that hook to the top of the video camera. They have that fabric shadow box thing that stretches over it which can diffuse the light. You’re not taking it off and having a light bulb shining at you. You have that diffuser on it, which helps angle everything. The big lights are super simple and pretty small. You can get those very easily on Amazon.
It’s small but still you’re talking about using an actual real video camera. If I’m using my cell phone with a selfie stick and trying to keep my equipment minimal, I might not use a light.
Keep in mind that your lighting is likely to be bad if you’re indoors in a hotel or ballroom. It will have a yellow-green cast to the lighting in there. No matter what you do, there’s no amount of cell phone settings, even the iPhone, which is great with its camera. There’s still only so much you can do to get the coloring right.
Did you compliment the iPhone?
I did. I don’t love the phone but it has a great camera on it. The settings still are not controllable in that environment because of the way you’re recording. It only works for photos, not as much for the video. That’s something to keep in mind.
If you’re going to be live-streaming, you’re going to have to deal with that situation. I believe any average video editor can apply a filter to the video to do some color correction. If you have the green cast to the image, that can be corrected if you’re going to put that out as a part of a video episode on YouTube or use a clip for social promotion.At the end of the day, the podcast audio matters most. Click To Tweet
That’s why I’m not a huge fan of live streams because you’re not in control and the timing slips at events all the time. If like we do here, you were expected to go live at 1:00 PM with your audience and have a special guest but they’re late because the event was running late and they’re still on stage, you’re out of luck. We don’t want to do that and plan that in. I am a fan of recording these things and then doing that live stream later by using the different restreams and other tools out there to stream it again as live at that moment.
You can still do it within the same day because you may want the urgency and excitement of being at the event but you could do it a couple of hours later. It still gives you the flexibility to it. If you’re skilled, you can apply a filter. If you’re not, you can live-stream it and replace it later. That’s something that we do as well. Once it’s no longer live, you’ve lost that luster and excitement of it, you might as well remove it from the feed and add the edited one in later. That works as well.
At live events, all-time schedules are soft. They are not anything you can plan around or depend on. If you do, you’re going to set yourself up for disappointment.
The last thing I want to say to everyone is if you act like a diva about the events, who you’re going to interview and not going to interview, you’re going to miss out. Those that go to an event and say, “Whoever you send my way, I’m going to interview them,” you’re recording and not live streaming. You always have the right not to air it if it’s not any good. Some of the people that I thought were the worst fit for my show turned out to be some of the best interviews I’ve ever had. I did a whole event on blockchain and cryptocurrency. I had no show about that. I thought, “Why am I doing this?” I was just going to write one article but I thought, “I’ll record all this. They could use it.”
I had some amazing interviews. I got to interview Steve Wozniak. How was I not going to use that? Being flexible and the go-to person there who is willing to take it. The publicists at an event have this need to make sure that their clients are seen. The organizers of the event also have not just for the speakers and celebrities that are coming but they also have it for the vendors that are there. If you’re willing to do the interviews, be flexible about that and even if you can’t do it like, “I can’t fit you on my schedule, but I’m going to set a time for us to interview next week,” if you do things like that, it will come back to you tenfold in an invitation to the next event.
That is how people started begging us to do Podcast Publicity Pop-Ups. They loved working with me at these events and wanted me to bring more people like me. That is how we ended up doing that. It has worked out so well because we coach those people that show up at the events and say, “Here’s what we’re trying to do for you. We’re trying to get you these three people guaranteed we can’t guarantee. You’re going to have to be flexible about it but we promise we’re going to get you three people that you’re going to get in your show and be right for you.”
What has happened to podcasters that did have more of a diva attitude towards this thing of interviewing everybody that’s there and declined to interview people?
Number one, they’ve never been invited back. Number two, their interviews were not good. The ones that they waited for and did were very short because that person was too busy. They didn’t get the best interview that they could. The flip side of that is that almost all of those have podfaded. They ended up having to quit their show because they weren’t in it for their audience and the curiosity of the interview. The whole other thing is, “How do you think on your feet to ask questions?” It’s different in a celebrity. With the energy of an environment, you can get a little nervous there. We’ll have to talk about how I prep and think about those interview questions, as opposed to how I do it when I’m doing Zoom or a more casual podcast interview.
We’re talking more about the technical side and tactical aspects of being able to conduct interviews. We’ll have another interview talking about not the tech at all and how we create the best interview, recording and podcast episodes in these situations.
The microphone is the most important thing. You have an audio show. At the end of the day, the podcast audio matters most. Making sure that you’ve got the best one for the right type of environment that you’re going to be in, the one that’s not going to pick up sound everywhere because there will be sound everywhere. Even if you think you’re in a private space, somebody is going to pop in or walk through. There are going to be issues. The microphone matters most.
Your camera is next, especially if you’re going to and think through the live stream versus recording. The camera matters as the next most important thing and then the lighting because of that. We’ve recorded with incredible cameras but I can still tell you that the ballroom still has bad lighting. If you don’t have good post-production, it’s not going to work for you. The last thing you may want to think about is to make sure you’ve got good post-production. If you’ve been more used to live streaming and airing it with no editing on your audio or video, you may want to have a backup for that. You may want to call in someone and say, “I need to do these episodes. I need post-production.”
That about wraps it up. Thank you, Tracy. That was a great insight. I appreciate some of the things you had said. You’ve done a lot more of these live events than me. I’m usually the guy you call in on the tech side to make sure you’re cut or I’m the guy that you yell at when things don’t work out the way you want. Hopefully, you all can be prepared and ready for your next in-person event to take advantage of that and get some great recordings done while you’re there.
I can’t wait to see you all at events coming up. I’m looking forward to it, not quite belly-to-belly but looking forward to seeing everybody one-on-one.
Thanks for reading. We’ll be back next time with another great episode on the show.