podcasting tips

Why you need Otter in your life

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

For the last couple of episodes of Level Up Human, I’ve been using Google speech to text to transcribe sections of the show for our show notes.

it works pretty well within the auphonic engine.

You can playback the sentence you’re reading to correct errors, and it’s possible to download the results as a .vtt file for YouTube.

But I think I’ve just found something better.

The Otter service uses AI to transcribe voice notes. It’s also possible to upload audio files to the program.

The user interface is so much nicer to use.

The playback feature is better, and the accuracy is superior to Google speech to text in the experiments I’ve done so far.

You have to check this out.

If you’re a performer, you might also enjoy the ability to riff into your phone and have an app transcribe the results for future reference.

I’ve just uploaded the voice memo recording of a gig I did in July last year, and Otter has transcribed it for me, for a performance on Friday. Having not thought about the show for six months, I now have a script!


If you’re on zoom calls at the moment, Otter will transcribe your meeting notes, with fully searchable results.

Which apps do you use every week to make your show?

Booking Guests for your Podcast

Level Up Human guests at the Barbican
Level Up Human live at the Barbican. Helen Scales, Vanessa Lowe, Cerys Bradley, Simon Watt, Rachel Wheeley, Robert Hindges and Barbican Life Rewired curator, Jamie Upton

So you’ve spoken to everyone you personally know in your niche. Where do we go from here?

The good news is that the guests you’ve already spoken to can be the keys to your future guests.

It’s a good idea to stay in touch with them, and nurture the relationship you extended by inviting them onto your show.

Help them to share the ideas they’re excited about, and ask them one key question.

“Who in your field of expertise should be famous, but isn’t?”

If they can give you a few names, these are the people it might be worth investigating next.

Use online book sites to research the market

Who’s written a book in your niche? Many online book sites have ‘Customers also viewed/bought’ sections. Start with a book in your niche that you know, and then see what else has been published in the area.

You can go down some fascinating rabbit holes doing this research!

Apps like Blinkist can help you get the gist of entire books in around 10 minutes, so you can make a shortlist of which authors to contact.

Explore creator spaces: bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers

Do some market analysis of everyone talking about your niche. Writers, podcasters and YouTubers might be good to invite onto your show, or they may have a laundry list of episodes with relevant guests guesting for you to explore.

You don’t want the exact same guest list as everyone else, but if you do book a guest from another podcast, listen to the episode. Work out what angles haven’t been covered.

Contacting authors, and other experts in your field

Having used up all the personal connections you can, it is sometimes useful to contact an author, or another expert in your field who you have not yet met.

But how to do this? What do you say to entice them onto your show?

Advice from my co-host on Level Up Human, Simon Watt, is:

“Everyone has a website nowadays. Make first contacts friendly but very brief. Be up front about time and budget if you have one.”

Simon Watt

Your email or DM, or whatever you deem the most appropriate way to contact the potential guest, should get straight to the point.

Hi [their name],

I’m [your name] from [podcast name]. I’d love to get you on the show for a chat about [topic]. I think it would be really beneficial for our audience who are interested in [subject].

[Let them know where you discovered them.] I just read your book [Name of book] and it helped me personally to understand more about [angle].

If you’d be interested, here’s a Calendly link where you can book a slot that works for you.

Calendly is great, because it eliminates all that back and forth you can get with guests for arranging dates.

Make an email signature with your podcast details and a link to your show for these emails, so your guest can click through and have a look at the work you’ve already done.

Contacting high profile guests

I listened to a podcast episode called ‘How to Get Super High Profile Guests’, with Jordan Harbinger on the Pat Flynn podcast, Smart Passive Income. Here are the key tips.

Be prepared to build your show before you can get a guest to say yes

Seth Godin reportedly says yes to podcast appearances, once the podcast has published its 100th episode. So it’s worth proving to your prospective guests that you’re in this for the long haul. And that you yourself have committed to your show.

Maintain relationships with publicists

If a publicist offers you a guest, chances are that guest won’t be a great fit for your podcast.

But Jordan usually replies to them to say that this guest isn’t great right now, but that he is interested in speaking to… and then he’ll outline the guests he wants for his show.

He says he generally gets a surprised response from the publicists, who I guess are used to getting nothing back from 80% of people they contact.

He’s been offered some guests by publicists who actively try to find people on their books who might suit him better using this method.

“I’m making myself easier to work with, which publicists love, because most people just delete their emails and never reply.

So when you’re polite to them, and you make it easier for them to pitch you, you get more pitches. And yes, you end up passing on more stuff… but you also end up with the occasional Malcolm Gladwell, Kobe Bryant, Chelsea Handler.

Because they like you, they know you’re going to respond, and they know you respond quickly.”

“I’m making myself easier to work with, which publicists love, because most people just delete their emails and never reply.”

Jordan Harbinger

And one final tip:

Be polite and persistent

The ‘father of advertising’, David Ogilvy, has this to say on persistence:

“The good salesman combines the tenacity of a bull dog with the manners of a spaniel.”

David Ogilvy

If you’ve made initial contact and they can’t do it, keep in touch with them, it might be possible to ask again later on, perhaps when they’ve a project to plug.

Send them an email every once in a while. Interact with them on social media. Keep asking. Within reason, obv.

You never know when your request might coincide with something they’ve got coming up to talk about. And in the meantime, your audience will have grown.

What have you found particularly helpful for finding guests for your podcast? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Solocasts: How not to sound scripted

If your podcast consists of monologues rather than interviews, the temptation is to keep the quality high by scripting each episode.

And there’s a lot to be said for this.

Scripted monologues can be highly informative and a joy to listen to. Why read a blog post when I could listen to one?

You can even double up the impact of your work by blogging and podcasting the same material.

The challenge is to make sure that they don’t sound scripted. Luckily there are multiple ways to do this.

Know your message

If you know what you want to say, and what the most important point you’re trying to make is, keep this in mind throughout.

Then if you go off your script you can be sure that you’re speaking to the topic in hand, and keeping your ad lib relevant to the rest of the piece.

Script, practice, rescript

The written word is different from the spoken word.

Once you’ve written what you want to say, practice out loud.

Use the script as reference but try not to read it. Record your practice session and then create bullet points out of this recorded script for the next rehearsal.

Practice again, working from these new bullet points. Revise anything on your list that you say differently.

This way, when you come to record, your outline reflects the way you speak naturally.

Pay attention to posture

Recording slumped over your equipment with your head pointing down at your notes is likely to result in a recording that sounds very flat. Record standing up, and project if possible.

Practice every day

Practice speaking every day, and be prepared to dislike the way you sound for quite a while. It’s ok to be bad at something to start with.

The more you practice recording yourself daily, the easier it is to focus on specific goals, like eliminating ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ as you speak.

Steal like an artist

Which podcasters do you love listening to?

Try to imitate how they sound in order to analyse what they’re doing differently.

It’s ok to be a tribute act as you learn your skill. And solocasting is a skill, which is why it needs to be practiced as often as possible.

‘De-um’ your work

When I worked at the BBC as a sound engineer, a good deal of audio editing was ‘de-umming.’

This just means going through a sound file in a linear fashion, removing ‘ums’ ‘ers’ and crutch words like, ‘you know’, ‘basically’ and ‘well’ from the file.

These can be distracting to listen to and are best removed. As you practice, you will get better at eliminating them from your speech.

What techniques do you use to remove the scripted sound from your podcast episodes?