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tech

Megrow Podcast: Episode 5

“The Making Of”

Several listeners have asked me to talk about the technicalities of podcasting. This blogpost summaries my approach of preparing, recording, editing and publishing the Megrow podcast. As a general rule, I strive to combine a decent quality outcome with the use of relatively modest hard- and software. Note though: many roads lead to Rome!

This blogpost is the (almost) verbatim script of the recently released Megrow Podcast Episode 5. If you prefer listening to it, click on this link or the image just below. Otherwise enjoy the reading.

GEAR

You do NOT need to spend thousands of dollars on high-tech equipment or rent a professional studio to record a podcast at decent quality. However, some good equipment is needed to produce professional podcasts. Nothing worse than high quality content that loses its impact due to poor recording and shoddy processing!

A decent quality microphone is the single most important investment to make. Almost any external microphone is better than the built-in microphones in your laptop / tablet / PC / mobile phone.

I purchased a Yeti Blue, for around USD 130, because

  • all the reviews I read, attested the Yeti a very good sound quality
  • the price, whilst not cheap, felt reasonable
  • it connects via USB to any computer
  • no additional hardware, like sound mixers, needed
  • simple plug-in and record, no need to install apps or software
  • both the microphone and the stand feel very robust
  • micro can be adjusted for solo podcasting or interview-type conversations
  • and, I do like the design and the colors
The Yeti microphone is ideal for podcasting
the YETI microphone..

The detailed technical description of the microphone and the color choice is available on the Yeti website. The Yeti is NOT a light-weight!

I also invested 20 USD into a pop-screen. When buying one, make sure it is big enough to cover the entire microphone. Make sure the lock comes with mounting clamps or screws to fix the screen on your mic or the table/stand that you put your recording gear on.

the pop blocker screen
recording studio set-up

recorder

Both iOS and W10 have built-in voice recorders. They work perfectly well for podcasting purpose.

Important: regardless of the device/app you use, make sure it can record with at least 44.1 kHz sampling rate. Most apps have a “setting” or “preference” option where you can adjust audio quality to “maximum” or whatever the terminology of your preferred OS is. 44.1 kHz records sound at excellent quality whilst keeping the audio files at a manageable size.

One thing to note: when using a good quality microphone at 44.1 kHz settings, be absolutely sure that you record in a quiet environment to avoid picking up background noise. Our brains are excellent at filtering out low level noise emanating from air conditioners or cooling fans of computers. However, a good microphone will register fan noise, which will distort your recording. Hence be wary of “silent” noise when recording.

One additional point to note, especially when your recording device runs a different OS than your post-processing device(s). You need to record your audio in a format that the “receiving” OS and software can open and process. 

soft-wear

Once you have recorded your ramblings, you may want to do some post-processing to enhance the messaging of your podcast.

Depending on the operating system you use, different options (at no extra cost) are available for editing your recordings. I mostly edit on a W10 machine using DaVinci Resolve 16 from Blackmagic. This editor is extremely feature rich, requires a journey along a steep learning curve and is available as a free download from the Blackmagic website. I use DaVinci because I grew reasonably familiar with it during the early days of my personal YouTube channel.

On the side: iMovie on your Mac will do the job just as nicely. 

A voice-only editor is insufficient for me, because I add images, titles, lay-over text, video snippets and music to the voice recording.

PROCESS

content creation

Thus far, I’ve had a smooth journey in terms of finding content. I do a lot of Enterprise Risk Management consulting work, hence ERM is a given topic. Let’s hope the creative vibes stay with me for a long time!

I could easily record an entire podcast episode without preparation. However, I prefer to script each episode at great level of detail. Putting my thoughts on paper (aka MS Word) forces some discipline into my thought process. In addition, a script eases content management and instills more focus on the actual delivery. Reading off a script also makes recording quite straight forward. 

And lastly, I release an accompanying blogpost on the Megrow website concomitantly to the podcast. The blog is a very close copy of the actual podcast script, so very little work is needed to cover two communication channels in one go.

Episodes usually last for about 10 minutes. I believe that 10 minutes provide enough time to get some detailed content across without “hand-cuffing” listeners for too long.

quality control

Once I have an almost final version of the script, I choose the “read-aloud” function in MS Word for proofing. Listening to the computer voice whilst following the text is such an efficient way of spotting mistakes and errors. Additionally, I also record the time needed for MS word to read the entire text – just to make sure I stay within the ten minutes target duration.

I’m obviously not a native English-speaker, so spell- and grammar check is a given.

the studio

Once I’m OK with the script, I set up the recording hardware. Mostly, I just put the laptop on top of a cardboard box, place the microphone next to it and fit the pop-blocker in front of the Yeti. It might not look very professional, but this set-up is fast and practical. For best sound quality, the Yeti needs to stand vertical and you need to talk into the microphone from the front. 

The Making Of: a simple, highly mobile and flexible recording studio set-up
the recording studio

I record each episode in chapters. Recording in slices makes the process much easier. When I stumble over my own words, I can simply discard the current chapter and re-record it. In addition, bite-sized audio slices also speed up my editing workflow.

editing

My editing process is relatively straight-forward:

  • set the editor – DaVinci Resolve in my case – to 1920×1080 Full HD resolution. This is currently the best choice when considering file size and quality
  • match quality setting of the audio track in your editing software to the high-quality settings used for voice recording
  • add opening screen, the intro and the outro from my templates stock. The intro and outro form the boundaries of the podcast in the editing software’s story line
  • mark chapters in the podcast with distinct titles for easy navigation
  • add images, URLs and video snippets when needed
  • pre-view the episode a few times for final quality control
  • export the project at full HD and upload to YouTube

going live

Recorded and edited, how will the world find your podcast and listen to it?

The state-of-the-art publishing process encompasses publication on one of the well-known Podcast feeders, such as Apple Podcasts or “Podcast Addict” for Android (to name just two). I was initially considering going down that route as well, but after a bit of thinking and tinkering, I decided to simply publish the Megrow podcast on YouTube. 

YouTube has a very distinctive set of advantages

  • it is a very well-known, easily accessible and omnipresent platform
  • tagging and onwards distribution/linking to other Social Media channels is easy
  • I’m familiar with the platform
  • listeners can subscribe to my channel and post comments
  • show notes can be added easily
  • device and platform independent, only needs a browser

My current method of reaching out to my audience is a five-pronged approach:

  • post on YouTube
  • announce the Episode on my Megrow Twitter account
  • put the link on Megrow’s LinkedIn page
  • post link on “my” LinkedIn page
  • publish the (almost) verbatim podcast on Megrow website as a blogpost.

OUTRO

I hope my thoughts will be helpful to some of you who are current or aspiring podcasters! Thank you very much for reading this blogpost. Other blogposts are here. You can contact me via the buttons at the bottom of the page.

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Other

Megrow Podcast: Episode 3

Episode 3 of the Megrow Podcast is live ! It focuses on the tangible benefits that good ERM brings to a company. If you like to listen to the video podcast, click the embedded link below. However, if you like to read the (almost) verbatim script, just scroll down and enjoy.

The Script of Episode 3

Megrow Podcast Episode 3 picks-up the topic trail where episode two ended. Back in episode 2, I scratched on the importance of making ERM a tangible benefit to any business. In this episode I will elaborate substantially more on this topic and most importantly share some examples to illustrate my point.

the evolution of the benefit slides

I start with a slide that is a core part of Megrow’s marketing materials since almost day 1 of the company. When I show this slide to colleagues and clients, the reactions are always very positive.

all stakeholders benefit from good enterprise risk management

Everybody seems to see the message of “benefits to business” right away. Naturally, some people tell me that the looks of the slide is borderline childish and inappropriate for business. However, the many spontaneous, “eyes wide-open” positive reactions I got and keep getting from different audiences convince me that it is a good slide. Hence, it keeps its important spot in many of my presentations.


Having said that, as I keep acquiring and completing more mandates, I felt the need to give the slide a good second look and decided to overhaul it: more focus and a slightly more polished look. So, here is the new version of the slide:

Good ERM improves results!

The diverse, colorful head image is the best representation of the variety of stakeholders that benefit from good ERM. For the updated version, I reduced the number of “benefits boxes”. Furthermore, I significantly enlarged the “improved results”. The “improved results” text box now sits right below the image – simply to give it the importance it deserves!

On to the real topic now: I will focus on a few, very tangible benefits of good Enterprise Risk Management.

ERM and Credit Rating

I start with the lever that Enterprise Risk Management has on credit rating.

Credit rating is the combination of balance sheet strength analysis and a number of adjustment factors; ERM being a crucial adjustment factor to derive a final credit rating. I refer to AM Bests’ credit rating approach, because I’m most familiar with their method. Having said that, all credit rating agencies use similar ways to go about it.

AM Best increase their assessment by one “notch” for a leading ERM-approach and, most importantly, lower their rating by up to 4 “notches” for an nonexistent ERM-approach. 

”Minus four notches” – that is very very significant. In other words, it pays off greatly to be at the “good practice level” for ERM. At the other end of the scale it is devastating to have a sub-standard ERM-output.

Higher credit rating means access to additional business, hence higher profits. Furthermore, a higher credit rating also lowers financing cost for a company. In reverse, a lowered credit rating closes some doors to business and makes access to some forms of capital more expensive. Hence, good ERM translates 1:1 to improved profit.

ERM Eases Communication

I’m very grateful to the CEO of a customer who “lifted” me onto the second “benefit” I highlight in this paragraph.

During a past mandate, the senior management team of the customer and I spent a lot of time compiling a good “risk appetite statement”. We managed to find a very sensible balance between some quantitative and a few, selective qualitative statements. In other words, we managed to define a tangible, yet flexible enough risk-appetite description. This enables the company to evaluate the up- and downside risks of some major strategic endeavors against its own perception of risk. I was very happy with that outcome.

The icing on the cake: what the CEO shared with me after the company’s next board meeting. According to the CEO, the revised risk appetite statement made the communication with the board so much more tangible, faster, efficient and easier. The bottom line: a significantly more efficient board of directors meeting!

ERM and Cyber

The risk landscape is continuously evolving; most risks are more interconnected and more challenging to mitigate than ever before. The entire realm of Cyber risk is a prime example. Exposures are interlinked, severity and frequency sometimes difficult to estimate and a plethora of mitigation efforts are deployed. ERM with its company-wide, consistent approach to identify and mitigate risk, is the best tool to “up” the defense for a company. It also is best suited to help a company finding additional business opportunities in the Cyber realm.

Thank you for reading through the transcript of the Megrow Podcast Episode 3. More episodes are in the making already. Megrow is here to make your ERM-journey fast and efficient. Contact details are at the bottom of the page.



Categories
Company Valuation Enterprise Risk Management ERM Parafernalia skills

The Megrow Podcast is LIVE!!!

Episodes Released

I’m very pleased to announce the release of Episode 1 and Episode 2 of the Megrow Podcast.

The Podcast is hosted on Megrow’s YouTube channel. I aptly named it the “Asia Risk and Opportunity Podcast” or “AROC” for short.

Episode one is a general, introductory episode explaining the why / what / how:

Episode 1 of the AROC Podcast – hosted by Megrow


Episode two dives right into the core matter of Enterprise Risk Management: what are the benefits to business?. I use CyberRisk as an example to demonstrate the tangible outcomes of good Enterprise Risk Management. “Tangible” in this context clearly refers to dollars and cents.

Episode 2 of the AROC podcast hosted by Megrow
why?

I’ve been thinking for quite some time about which channels are best suited to share my thoughts about ERM. Obviously, this blog is my first choice, followed by LinkedIn and then Twitter. These three avenues all have their benefits and particularities. But I always felt something was missing. After quite some pondering, I decided to try a Podcast to complement my current channels.

looking for contributors

This podcast is fully open to anybody who is looking for a channel to share ideas and views about risks and opportunities. However, I have two border conditions: first, the message must be of practical value and secondly, a distinctive focus on matters in and across Asia is sought. Ironically, I broke my second rule with Episode 2 already, so next time I need to do better.

the future

I’m planning to release a few episodes over the course of 2019. However, neither do I want to stress nor limit myself by an overly specific target. If I find sufficient speakers, I might release an episode every 2 weeks, otherwise there will be just a handful in 2019.

The beauty of this podcast lies in its flexibility with regards to length and looks. It can be a 60 seconds video or a 30 minutes conversation – and anything in between.

Hence, if you are passionate about a risk-relevant topic with a distinctive Asia-relevant touch to it: please please stand-up and get in touch with me. Recording and editing isn’t a big anymore. Let us have a chat soon!