The following list includes factors that make for good podcasting – and particularly those first few podcasts:
Keep it short. I suggest you start by creating a 5 minute podcast. A shorter podcast may encourage people to give it a try. If they have to listen to 30 minutes, they might not be so keen to invest the time. You can always increase the length of the podcast as your audience grows.
Focus on a particular area of interest and talk in depth on that subject area.
Project your personality through the podcast. People will listen to a podcast not just for the information that is included in it, but also because of your style of presentation and your personality.
Include anecdotes. Just like in public speaking, from Jesus’ time to the present day, storytelling really livens up any presentation and captures the listener’s attention.
Don’t read from a script. Unless you have a gift for enlivening things written down in a script, it is far better to create a framework and speak from the framework using your own words. I would prefer to hear a few ‘umms,’ ‘likes’ and ‘arghs’ and have a presentation made spontaneously than a perfectly read but stultifying presentation made from a script.
Record animatedly. When recording your podcast, do it with energy and passion. A great trick that will automatically make things sound a whole lot better it to stand up and move your arms while you are podcasting.
Use a good microphone. I am always amazed at how audibly illiterate some people are when they use an inadequate microphone (or worse a microphone ‘built in’ to their computer or MP3 player) to record a podcast. In the worse cases you have to actually strain your ears to hear the words, in the best, background noise and ambient sound can be clearly heard during the podcast. Microphones to look at (all of which are USB microphones that plug directly into your PC) include the Samson C03U USB Studio Condenser Mic or the Bluemic Snowball
Get to the subject at hand as quickly as possible. There seems to be a trend towards adding all sorts of unnecessary clutter (such as a theme tune) at the beginning of a podcast. This may be okay for podcasts that you are listening to passively (e.g. on a car journey), but for those listening purposefully at their desks, unnecessary content can be an annoyance.
Listen and learn from other people’s podcasts in your subject area. This can be a great eye opener (or ‘ear’ opener!) as to what works and what doesn’t.
Consider asking a colleague or subject matter expert to join you and take part in the podcast. The interchange between two people can make for more interesting and entertaining listening than one sole presenter.
Solicit questions and suggestions from the audience. By incorporating information that listeners have shown an interest in will automatically ensure that the podcasts are relevant to the audience.
Publicize the podcast. If no one downloads the podcast then, however good it is, it will be a waste of time. Make sure that you include a link on your Web site. Send existing clients a link and consider issuing a press release. Bear in mind that many of your customers may not know what a podcast is. Make sure that you educate them and provide clear instructions as to how they could ‘subscribe’ to the podcast so that they will be assured of getting future episodes.
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Martyn R. Whittaker
Billy Fire LLC