Podcasts are becoming very popular as a new storytelling medium to spread ideas and your message online. In this series of posts, I’ll detail everything that you’ll need to know as you get started in the world of podcasting.
We spent some time in our first post understanding, subscribing, and listening to podcasts. The second post moved to the creation of podcasts as we discussed identifying the purpose, audience, and format of your content. In this post, we’ll continue to examine considerations you should have as you develop your podcast. As you hunt and build content, you’re engaging in a process of finding talent, content, great audio…and ultimately your voice.
Finding the talent
Please keep in mind that in these posts I’ve described podcasts as “magazines for your eyes and ears.” I also indicated that most good podcasts are generally conversations that happen to take place in front of a microphone. As you plan, create, and share your podcast, you will always be in front of a microphone (and perhaps a video camera). Hopefully at this point you’ve got a good understanding of the purpose, and format of your podcast. Now we need to talk about the talent (i.e., acts, performers, hosts) on your show.
In this you’ll first need to decide if you’ll have other individuals on your podcast. You could record these podcasts by yourself. The Hardcore History series by Dan Carlin is a great example of this. You could host with a colleague. The Today in Digital Education podcast by Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes is an excellent example. You could have a podcast in which you (or a partnership of hosts) brings on a panel for each episode. This Week in Tech is a successful example of this model. Depending on the organization of the talent on your podcast, your talent will meet and record the podcast face-to-face, virtually, or some mixture of the two.
Finding the content
If you’re planning on giving a speech or giving a speech, you’ll take some time to plan out your remarks. As noted above, a podcast should be more conversational (IMHO), but you’ll still want to focus your thoughts and time before you begin. I typically use Google Docs to create and share “show notes” for episodes. As an example, here are the show notes that we compiled for a recent episode of the Research to Practice Show for the LRA.
In your show notes you should indicate the title of the podcast as well as the individual episode. You should include the topic and date of the episode. The show notes should list the individuals that are appearing on the episode as well as including links out to other spaces in which they exist online. I also advise including an outline that includes links and prompts/questions that you want to make sure you address during the episode. Finally, the show notes is a great place to save those extra links and content that come up during the conversation.
I share the show notes with panelists before the recording to make sure they know what to expect. I also share the show notes out with the audience to allow them to join in and comment on materials as they see fit. Finally, the show notes provide you with all of the information about a specific episode in one place. Your audience will appreciate it when they go looking for a link or website that you mentioned on the episode.
Finding the audio
The next thing you’ll have to consider is the audio for your podcast. You could spend a lot of money preparing for this podcast. I’d advise you to only focus on the pieces that you definitely need as you get started. In my experience, the audio is the most important element of your podcast. Your audience usually is more forgiving with video than they will be with poor audio. Also, since most of your audience will most likely be listening to your content using headphones. This is especially important if you have a longer (e.g., time) podcast.
I believe the microphone will be the most important purchase that you make as you begin this endeavor. The microphone (and supplemental audio equipment) will be different based on whether or not you’re recording face-to-face or virtually. As a result, I’ll discuss the products and tools that I recommend in upcoming posts looking at recording across these two spaces.
Keep in mind that you may decide to record video for a face-to-face show, but then you are adding in complexity with video production and sound-mixing that might be beyond the scope of what most would expect from a podcast. As technology advances, I believe there will be a place for the use of video in this medium, but for the remainder of this post I want to make sure we’re focused on how important the audio is to the audience.
Finding your voice
As you get your mind focused on developing your podcast, you need to not only identify your purpose, audience, and format…you need to find your voice. You don’t need a professional voiceover artist. You need to find your voice and be clear, smooth, and enjoyable as you converse with your audience.
As you find your voice, you might want to crank things up a bit and sound a little bit “larger than life.” In the past, I served as a voice on the radio, and as the voice of a collegiate women’s soccer team doing public address. In this work you need to assume a different personality. Many teachers also take on this identity when they assume their “teacher’s voice” in the classroom.
You also need to know your material. Having detailed show notes will help you prepare, but you’ll want to make sure you are ready to speak when you hit record. Even the best of us have our minds go blank when things go live. It helps to know the material so you can take a deep breath, feel free to laugh, and enjoy the time. Remember to write down things and practice if you have some content that you definitely need spoken a certain way.
Be sure to maintain editorial control over your show notes and content on your podcast. You should “know” your avatar and your intended audience. If something doesn’t speak directly to them…don’t be afraid to revise or cut the material.
Pay attention to the use of “ummmm” and pauses in your delivery. You should also consider your vocal inflection as you’re speaking with others. It helps to start working this in to your daily conversational speaking habits to help it come through in your podcast. Be sure to match the tone of your voice to the tone of your content. If your message is upbeat, record your podcast with a smile on your face. Your audience will be able to hear and share your smile as they engage with your content.
What is next?
In the next post in this series we’ll focus on recording podcasts face-to-face. Please feel free to share or comment on these materials.
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