Hi Shawn. For podcasts I tend to do the following (NB: I edit a few podcasts for people. They send audio to me, so I don’t have control of the recording environments, otherwise some of these things can be dealt with at the recording stage):
• Check the breathes to see whether some of them need to be brought down in volume a little or eliminated (by bringing the volume down to zero and cutting the duration by half). There are also plugins that automate this process but you have to be very careful with the settings.
• Manually edit out stutters, sniffs, clicks, chair squeaks and any other nasties!
• Check to see if the audio need treating. For example, If someone’s very bassy, use the EQ to run a high-pass filter over their voice. Or if someone has a lot of mouth clicks (for example, because they’re not hydrated enough or they’ve just eaten chocolate!) / or if someone has been recording a little bit too loud - Izotope has a great set of plug-ins called RX7 to get rid of these: https://www.izotope.com/en/products/rx.html
• Normalise. Add light compression, maybe just 3:1. Then Normalise again.
• Sometimes I’ll also go to Window and click Essential Sound to play with the settings there.
• At the end, select all the tracks and right click on one of them to match audio loudness. Mike’s got a great YouTube video on this …and pretty much everything else in this list!
Sorry if I’ve gone on a bit here - the main takeaway should be: edit out the faults first before you EQ, compress and otherwise polish-up voices, otherwise you’re just highlighting the faults more!
What’s your podcast about?