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Multimedia Project Guidelines: Creating a Podcast

multimedia, filming, editing

splash microphone

Creating a Podcast - Essentials

Scoping your Project

Consider the following questions to help your group clarify the scope and specifics of your podcast.

Purpose - Your motivation behind creating this project. 

  • What is the purpose of the podcast? Is it to inform? teach? motivate? persuade? entertain? advocate? share?
  • What essential message do you want to communicate?
  • How does this story benefit from sound?  Why audio storytelling and not a paper or a video?
  • What other podcasts has been made on this topic and how does yours differ? 

Audience - Who is this project for?

  • Who is your intended audience?
  • How will you reach this audience?
  • What prior knowledge (if any) might they have of the topic?
  • What do you want your audience to do after hearing your project? (e.g., check out a website? talk to their friend about a topic? contact their legislative representative? etc.)

Perspective - The point of view from which you will speak from

  • Who is telling your story and why?
  • From what perspective will your story be told? How does that impact the language used?
  • Is your perspective made explicit to your audience?  Why or why not?
  • Does your perspective reinforce or challenge harmful stereotypes in your field?

Design - How you organize and present the components of this project

  • How would you characterize the tone of your podcast? (e.g., formal/informal? upbeat?). 
  • How will the content be sequenced? (e.g., lead with problem, lead with context, chronological)
  • Who is represented in the audio and when?  Why?
  • How does your structure and organization support the purpose of your podcast?
  • If doing community work, who has ownership of the media when the project is over? Why?

Podcast Structure

There are a variety ways to structure your podcast can take.  Depending on your topic, your podcast might be best served picking one approach or having a variety of approaches to help break up distinct sections.  Consider how your structure supports the information you are trying to convey.  


One person speaking, usually with in-depth expertise on a particular subject.

Asking questions (with intention) to elicit information, experiences, emotion on a specific topic.  With this format the interview may be used as is or be heavily edited.

Group of people discuss various topics, often informally

The story is told directly by the storyteller, usually with little interruption from a narrator.

Some podcasts have a narrator that is interwoven throughout a story to help push the narrative forward. 

Story (fiction / non-fiction) using anecdotes and scenes exploring larger concept

Layering and intercutting various types of audio on a subject or theme without a narrator 

blue mic

Find Your Voice

You may find that as record your podcast it isn't enough to simply read your script; you likely will need to perform it.  The energy in your voice, or lack of energy, will be heard by your audience.  To help with this process try some of the following:

  • Invite a friend or group member to be present in the space while you read.  Reading to someone will radically alter your delivery.  You can also imagine performing to different types of people.  You may find that when you say your script to a loved one versus a professor your tone and phrasing are different.  Which feels best for your project?
  • Alter your script to make it easier to say.  If you are finding certain words or phrases awkward to say, change them.  They will also likely be awkward to hear.
  • Record your voice and then playback with your eyes closed.  Sometimes closing your eyes can help you hear differently.
  • Play with different types of voices.  Try exaggerating your voice.  You may find that overemphasizing your emotions translates better through the microphone.  

Finding your voice for a podcast can come naturally for some and be a complex, difficult process for others.  Below are a few posts about folks who struggled to find their voice, how they did it and what it meant for them.  

Creating a Script

Creating a script can help you organize your ideas before you even open an editing application.  Not all podcasts require a script but having some structure will help your listeners understand what they are listening to and why.  Below are some organizing structures to consider as well as a template to get you started.  Scripts can take many shapes and they can be helpful even when recording non-vocal sounds.  You may even find that your podcast has segments that have different formats and thus different relationships to script creation. Don’t hesitate to invent a script format that works for your project! 

  • Scripted Narrative - An approach that maps out, in a very detailed fashion, the narrative arc and trajectory of the podcast.
  • Loose Script - Helpful for conversational formats, as well as approaches that focus on non-vocal sounds, outlining topics or a conversational thread 
  • Unscripted - Being open to wandering, listening and shifting your subject based on what you encounter, doesn’t mean you can’t establish a structure during recording or editing

Working with Audio

When recording voice for this important project, make sure you know your equipment!  The Media Center has quality voice recorders and microphones to use, that will give you excellent quality.  Never use a microphone located inside a computer.  External microphones are fine when hooked up to a computer, but make sure your computer is actually using that microphone.  

We recommend using Audacity or GarageBand (computer programs) with and external microphone, when recording onto a computer.  

Pro Tip!  Use headphones to monitor what the device is picking up.  Microphones are typically more sensitive than your ears.  They can also be very unforgiving in what they capture.  Every cough, sniffle or chair creak will be captured.  

Test:  Do a test recording and make sure your audio is at a good volume and is picking up what you want to capture.  Then, play it back on the device to make sure everything is working.

Gain:  Adjusting the gain on a microphone is great for picking up a voice that is quiet and soft.  But beware, it also magnifies other sounds such as background and ambient noises that you may not realize are being recorded.  

Ambient Noises:  Those sounds that seem to be really distant, but can be picked up in a sensitive microphone.  These can be florescent lights humming, air conditioning blowing, the wind, door squeaks, etc.  Some you can control by just choosing a better place to record.  

Surroundings:  Be aware of possible interruptions and sounds that might leak in due to the location you happen to be recording in.

Audio, Sound Effects and Music

Using creative media (like images, audio, or videos) made by other people is different from using other people's research. Here are some things to consider when choosing what you include in your video:

1. Go ahead and use images, audio, and video that have a Creative Commons (CC) license. Creative Commons licenses are a way for authors to allow people to re-use their works without the restrictions of traditional Copyright.

2. Go ahead and use images, music, and video that are in the public domain. Public domain means that these documents are no longer restricted by copyright. Most works produced by the US government are also in the public domain.

3. If something does not have a CC license/is not in the public domain, it should be assumed to be protected under Copyright and you must either:

  • Ask permission before using it, OR 
  • Determine whether your use is considered a "fair use

Downloading Audio

When looking for audio to include in a multimedia project, it is important to be aware of how format and sample rate can impact the quality of your audio.   Mp3 files compress sound files while .wav files are uncompressed and can store higher quality audio. 

The standard sample for a project that combines video, image and audio elements is 48kHz.  It is important that you make sure all of the files you download and record are the sample sample rate.  You can check your files resolution by opening in a media player or video application and checking the properties of the audio file.

The sites below provide access to audio that you can download and manipulate in your project.  Some sites may require you to create a free account before downloading.

Sound Effects and Music

Sound effects

Sound effects can be more than just a background to your story.  The specificity that sounds effects provides can help more effectively communicate your story to your audience.  For example, saying, "Near the ocean...." is different than hearing the ocean on a specific day; are the waves crashing?  Is it windy?  Are there shore birds?  Are there people or traffic heard in the distance?   Because of this specificity using just any "wind with birds" sound effect could locate your audience in the wrong place if they are familiar with bird calls and the regions they frequent.  Sound effects communicate so much about a place so choose carefully and intentionally.  


Music can be used in a number of ways in a podcast.  It can be used at the intro and/or outro of your podcast, between segments to mark a transition or under an interview or narration to help supplement a particular emotion you are trying to evoke.  But the music shouldn't distract your listeners, it should compliment the story.  Remember that music carries a lot of cultural meaning so make sure the genre and style you choose is appropriate for your topic.  Doing research of specific types of music you are using can help add another layer of content to your story.

*Special thanks to Kimbery Forero-Arnias, Digital Media Specialist at the Tufts University Libraries for permission to reuse content.

Trible Library provides links to other websites to aid in research and is not responsible for the content or privacy policy of those sites.