Best practices for producing multilingual podcasts

Published on November 16th, 2020

The podcast industry has exploded over the past few years and the industry is expected to grow by a further 30% in 2020, reaching USD1.1bn in value, according to research conducted by Deloitte.

At the same time, research from HBR finds that 72.1% of people spend most of their time online engaging with content in their own language. Which means brands looking to tap into the global podcast market need to consider foreign-speaking audiences. The question is, how exactly do you produce multilingual podcasts?

How to create a multilingual podcast

There are several ways to create multilingual podcasts, each of which has its own pros and cons. Ideally, you want to hire hosts in each native language and record individual podcasts for each language audience, but there are alternatives.

Use voice actors

If you are not in a position to have multiple teams of hosts and producers, a more cost-effective option could be to translate your original podcast and then use voice actors to record the new language version.

This can save time and money, but keep in mind that it can be difficult to capture the authenticity of natural conversation – especially for more formal podcasts.

Provide subtitles for video podcasts

Another option can be to set up cameras in your podcast studio and record videos of each episode. This allows you to provide translated subtitles for each language audience while maintaining the authenticity of your hosts’ natural conversation.

The downside is that your foreign language audiences will be forced to watch videos and pay attention to them if they want to fully understand. This removes some of the key benefits of podcast content, such as being able to listen while driving or doing chores around the house.

As we say, if you want the best results from your multilingual podcast, the preferred approach is to record multiple versions of each episode using native-speaking presenters for each language audience. This way, you can create 100% authentic conversations in each language while also adapting episodes to make them more relevant for each audience.

Best practices for creating multilingual podcasts

Now that we have established the ideal approach for producing multilingual podcasts, let’s take a look at some best practices to help you get there.

  • Hire native-speaking talent: Get native-speaking hosts for each target language so you can create natural, relevant content.
  • Record multiple versions of each episode: Record one version of each episode for every target language, adapting each version of the episode, as necessary for local audiences.
  • Translate your source script: Once the script is finished for your source episode (likely the English version), translate the script for each alternative language version.
  • Adapt your translated scripts: With your script translated into multiple languages, now you want to adapt the script for each audience and the hosts.
  • Keep things organic: Give your foreign-language hosts freedom to put their personality into episodes and go off-script to make the conversation feel more natural and engaging.
  • Be culturally relevant: Make sure each language version of your podcast is culturally relevant to its target audience by addressing local interests and events that might affect them.

In an ideal world, you want to record different language versions of each episode with native-speaking hosts who can deliver convincing content for each audience. This allows you to localise the content of each language version to ensure it is as relevant and engaging as possible to each audience. You may even decide to cover slightly different topics for each audience and develop slightly different brand voices or styles, depending on the results you get in each market.

By translating and localising your podcast strategy in this way, you are able to adapt to local interests while retaining the flexibility to continue doing what works with other versions of your podcast. Instead of trying to please every audience with the same content, you are producing episodes designed specifically for the unique interests of each market and giving yourself the best chance of engaging them for the long-term.

Posted on: November 16th, 2020