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How to record a video podcast featuring Steven Bartlett

May 5, 2022
A pro video podcaster drops his knowledge on how to record a video podcast for maximum impact.

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If you want to understand the power of video podcasts, there’s no better place to start than with a very special episode of “The Diary of a CEO,” hosted by Steven Bartlett. Bartlett is an entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den venture capitalist, in addition to being at the helm of a hit podcast.

On his podcast, Bartlett interviews influential cultural figures about their stories. In this episode, YouTube comedian Jack Dean (aka Jaackmaate) shares an open and vulnerable story of his struggle with OCD and health anxiety. Just listening to the story’s audio would be compelling, but seeing it adds a new level to the experience. The expressions on his face and in his eyes, his body language, hand gestures, and overall physical energy pull the viewer in, securing their undivided attention.

This is the impact of video podcasts. Steven Bartlett, creator and host of “The Diary of a CEO,” has a way of extracting honest and brave anecdotes from his guests. Jaackmaate likened that episode to a therapy session where he talked about challenges he’s only shared with a small number of confidants before. Viewers get to hear that play out on the mic and see it on the screen, deepening their podcast experience.

In this guide to recording a video podcast, Bartlett shares some of his most important takeaways from his experience as a video podcast creator. Here is what you need to know about how to record a video podcast to get the kind of results that Bartlett does with “Diary of a CEO.”

But first: Why video podcasts?

You could ask the same question about music videos. Music is first and foremost a sonic art form, but who could deny the impact of music videos since their emergence into the mainstream in the early 1980s? Music videos bring sounds and words to life and tell the story of a song in a new and different way than the audio track alone does.

Video podcasts offer the same type of opportunity for podcast creators, and because the video podcast evolution is in its early stages, we’re just scratching the surface of what it can do. Bartlett points to three key benefits of video podcasting for his show:

  1. “The emotion it allows the viewer to see.” Whether it’s happy, sad, or anything in between, capturing that physical emotion can have a stronger effect than audio alone can.
  2. “It brings an extra level of personality and relatability to my guests.” The fact that audiences can watch an interview can motivate more animation, better storytelling, or a stronger presentation from your guest.
  3. “Filming the podcasts allows me to cut the footage up for social media, acting as promos for the podcasts.” Case in point: Bartlett teases his video episodes in Instagram Reels that show snapshots of conversations and past media clips of his guests and utilize sound effects and music samples to heighten anticipation.

Create your video podcast setup

Making a high-quality video podcast starts with your setup. This is an area you need to focus on to bring your listeners the best audio and visual experience, no matter where you record or what your budget is. These are the key elements to designing a successful video podcast setup.

  • A quiet space with good sound: This could be a recording studio or in your own home, like Bartlett’s setup. “The studio is actually in my kitchen. The reason I decided to do it in my home is because it seems to relax the guests on a different level compared to if I brought them to a studio,” he says.
  • Lighting: A studio light with a softbox will make a big difference in your video podcast quality. A softbox modifies lighting by releasing it through a diffusion screen for a softer effect. If you don’t have that particular equipment yet, make sure the lighting where you record is the right level for the look of your show.
  • Décor: Design your recording space to match the overall branding and concept of your podcast. Try to incorporate your brand colors in your setup, whether that’s in your furniture, artwork, lighting, or wardrobe. If your podcast is about business, your setup might be simple and sleek. If your podcast is about music, maybe you have instruments in the background. Whatever your décor and aesthetics are, make sure the set is neat and tidy without any distracting clutter.
  • A microphone(s) to record the audio: Just as you would with a normal audio-only podcast, you’ll need a good microphone with preamps for the best sound quality. Whether you need one or multiple depends on if you have guests or cohosts. A great benefit of video podcasts is the option to just listen to the audio, giving your audience more flexibility with how they choose to consume your show.
  • A camera(s) to record the video: Of course, you’ll need a good camera, or several if you’re recording a multi-camera video podcast, like “Diary of a CEO.” Use a camcorder with at least 1080p or a DSLR camera, although Bartlett says that for more basic setups, “even recording on your phone will be good enough.” You will also need a tripod to frame your shot and mount your camera.

Bartlett is one of the best video podcasters in the game because of his talents and skills, and his success has allowed him to purchase a top-notch recording setup. “About a year ago, we decided to go big on our podcasting studio. We invested £40,000 into new equipment to make it look the way we wanted to, making it as cinematic and intimate as possible. In our studio, we currently use six cameras, two sliders, and a dolly,” says Bartlett.

But even though Bartlett has a first-rate home podcast studio, he says one of the biggest mistakes that early video podcasters can make is “thinking they should go all in and spend lots of money.” Rather, when starting out, he says, “working up to everything gradually is the best way as you learn what works and doesn’t work for you.” And when you build up enough momentum and monetize your podcast, you can level up your studio like Bartlett eventually did.

Prepare before you record

Because of the extra steps and production required, you should prepare to record a video podcast even more than you do for an audio-only episode. There is an added layer of visibility with the video format, so you need to be ready to make yourself and your guest look good once you start rolling. Visual presentation is the first step, then comes preparing for the content of the show.

In the days or weeks leading up to the recording, make an outline with the main points you want to cover for your episode or write a more detailed script. Make sure you practice ahead of time and are very familiar with the outline or script, so it’s more of a reference you can use if you need it. Reading your materials word for word on camera isn’t the best look.

If you are hosting one or multiple guests, share that outline with them in advance. This will help them to do their own prep work and give them time to think about their responses to ensure a thoughtful discussion and good flow. The outline doesn’t have to include everything, and the conversation can (and should!) take unexpected turns so that your episode will still have unrehearsed and spontaneous moments.

Choose your format

One of the beauties of podcasting—be it video or not—is the flexibility and creative options it allows. There are several different formats you can choose for your video podcast episodes that all have their advantages.

The first is the in-person interview, which is the best, according to Bartlett, for the “level of connection you get when someone is sitting opposite you.” For an in-person interview, you can use one camera to record everyone in the same view or a multi-camera setup to alternate between close-ups of you and your guest.

A solo recording is just you talking to the camera. You can enhance a solo recording with graphics, slides, photos, video clips, sounds, and music to break up the same shot and keep your audience engaged and watching.

With video podcasts, you can also record a remote interview. You can record remote interviews on your video conferencing platform of choice, download the recording and upload it to Spotify for Podcasters as you would a regular audio file.

Beyond these three in-studio or at-home formats, maybe you want to take your video podcast on the road! You could record in different locations, like at a restaurant or at a park, where the sound and light are right to give your podcast watchers more to look at and give you more to show.

You can design your episodes and even the entire concept of your show based on the visual format in a way that you might not have been able to do with audio-only. For example, with video podcasts you could record cooking demos, and makeup and hair tutorials.

Edit your video podcast

Editing is a crucial step in the video podcast production process. Video podcast editing lets you cut out and shorten segments; add transitions, visual or audio clips, and graphics; and adjust the colors as needed. Editing plays a bigger role when you record a multi-camera video podcast since you need to alternate shots depending on who is speaking.

To edit your video podcast, first you’ll need to find an editing program you’re comfortable with. There are many options out there to choose from, so test some out using free trials to find the best fit for you. One common issue to keep in mind when editing is to make sure your audio and video sync up. Whether you have a guest or not, smoothing or adding transitions during editing can help move the video through pauses, segments, or topic transitions.

Donnie Beacham from The Ringer Podcast Network has lots of helpful video editing tips on these steps and more.

Promote your video podcast

Now that you’ve done all this work to record an amazing video podcast, it’s time to make sure your audience sees it. There are several unique and exciting ways to promote video podcasts.

Most social media networks are highly visual, so video podcasts provide a ton of great material to share on your social channels. You can select and isolate clips during the editing process to post on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook and Instagram Stories, or compile longer ones for YouTube.

You can post individual clips from your video episodes or a series of them, like Bartlett does to promote his show. “I have someone that creates a promo for each episode; this is the best and most impactful part of the podcast cut with music and sound effects. I also cut up the clips for social media that add value and post them across my channels,” he says.

Select the clips and soundbites that will make your audience want to listen and watch the whole episode. Promote the most surprising, moving, or funniest clips on your website, social media, and in your emails leading up to and after the episode release.

Learning how to record a video podcast is a work in progress

Video podcasting is a new frontier on Spotify, and best practices for how to record one will evolve with the format itself. It’s a bit trickier than audio alone, but video opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for creators and gives your audience another way to consume your show.

Testing, with some trial and error, is definitely part of learning how to record a video podcast. Like Bartlett says, “just start and learn from the process, making things better every time. Even if those changes make it better by 1%, those 1% gains add up over time.”

Now it’s your turn to make your own video podcast. Just login to Spotify for Podcasters to get started. Then, it’s showtime.

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