If you are curious about this Level 4 elective in Pathways, just like with giving a speech, you just have to start. Yes, the thought of podcasting can be exhilarating and intimidating at the same time. But once you do your first one, it will get easier. And think how impressive it will make you look!
Before you even hit “record”, you need to ask yourself some questions:
- Why do you want to make a podcast?
- Who is your podcast for?
- Why should they listen to you?
Checking off your Pathways project box is not reason enough. Dig deeper: is it educate? To entertain? Find your why.
Then narrow down who you are trying to reach. Outline what that person looks like; their demographic, career, hobby, and pain point. If you can’t narrow it down, your audience won’t find you.
Give your audience a reason to listen. What will you talk about? Draft out 12-to-15-episode ideas you think your target audience will listen to. Create content that they want to come back for.
Figuring out “why” and “who” will help shape your podcast’s show description and your show’s name.
At this point, don’t worry about not having an audience. The majority of people who start a podcast start with no audience. The audience will come.
In this article, podcast planning has been broken into three stages: the episode stage, the recording stage, and the post-production editing stage.
The Episode Stage
This is where you go deeper into the value you’re going to give people. The content for each podcast episode should answer a question they have in their mind.
Episode length will depend on the content you plan to provide, and the audience you are doing this for. Start with what interests you: of all the podcasts you listen to, what is the average time? If that number turns out to be too intimidating, start with something shorter and build on it as your comfort level increases.
Determine your podcast schedule. Decide how often you’ll release a new episode. Whether its once a week, once a month, or somewhere in-between, pick a timeline that allows you to stay consistent so that your audience comes to expect it.
Write out your episode titles and put them on your podcast schedule. Titles must be very clear as to what your listener will gain. Listeners often decide if they want to listen to that specific episode based on the title. Just be sure that you are giving them the content that you promised in the title.
Decide on your format. Will it be a solo show where you do all the talking? A co-hosted show with a friend? Will you be interviewing a guest? A panel discussion where more than one guest offers their insight? The format depends on your goal for each episode and your comfort level with each format. This may require some research and practice time. If you are not sure, go to your favourite podcasts and critically listen. Ask yourself why that particular format resonates with you.
Just like a speech, determine in advance what you will say, then practise! No need to write it word for word. Simply note the talking points you wish to capture, then practice saying them until your points roll out smoothly. When recording, never read your script verbatim. That will sound painful to your audience. Podcasts are an intimate chat between you and your listener. Be conversational.
The Recording Stage
Once you have planned out your show on paper, its time to work on the recording phase.
What equipment do you need? At bare minimum, a computer with a USB microphone and access to the internet. Keep in mind, the higher the quality of your equipment, the greater the sound quality of your show.
You will also need the software to actually record and edit your audio. Audacity is a free and open-source digital audio editor and recording application. Adobe Audition is a digital audio workstation available through a paid subscription. Alitu: The Podcast Maker, is a simple recording and editing web application. GarageBand is a line of digital audio workstations developed by Apple for Mac users. Talk to other podcasters to understand what they are working with and why that is their preferred software. Do your research and pick the product you feel will best suit your learning curve.
You have your listener persona figured out. You have your show schedule, your episode length and format planned out. You have content topic and talking points, your equipment, your software…now its time to record your podcast!
When talking into your microphone, imagine having a conversation with an individual across from you. This will make you sound more natural and engaging. For your listener, you will sound like you are chatting directly to them.
Post-production and the Editing stage
The beauty of a podcast is, it’s a recoding. You can edit out mistakes, merge together different audio clips, add music (royalty free, or music you created – or had someone create specifically for you), or add special effects.
Some of the already mentioned podcast software provide editing options. If you are willing to spend a bit of money, consider hiring someone to edit your show for you.
If you are using music, ensure that you use it legally for your podcast. You don’t want to be hit with a huge legal bill for using someone else’s music without a signed contract. Choose royalty-free, or stock music. You can buy subscriptions that give you access to libraries and lifetime licenses for your subscription period. Or you can hire someone to create your own podcast music, which becomes your brand and your property for the lifetime of your podcast.
You don’t have to use music, but many podcasters add about 10 seconds at the beginning and end of each episode to make it sound more professional.
Next, choose your cover art. Have art that is unique, appealing, and speaks to your brand. If you are not a graphic artist, there are apps like Canva available. Or have a graphic artist design your art for you. Cover art should be 1400 x 1400 pixels, in JPG or PNG form, and under 500kb in size.
Finding a media host (a podcast hosting account), is your next step. This is a service where you store your podcast and allows your audience to listen, download, and subscribe. You will need to sign up with a hosting service to host your audio files. If you are not sure which one to go with, reach out to your favour podcasters and ask them for their recommendations.
Once you’ve created your show inside your media host, you can then submit it to various directories. This is where people can find your show. A good media host will have auto-submit or guided submission options.
When you sign up for media hosting, there is usually a free website option. If you don’t have your own site, this is a good option. If you have a website, you won’t need extra web hosting. Simply set up your podcast on your site. If this is outside of your knowledge base, ask a tech-savvy friend to show you how, or watch one of the many free on-line tutorials for beginner podcasters.
You’ve launched your first podcast; Well done! That calls for a min-celebration. Once you have finished your celebratory dance, its time to tell the world. Use your social channels to let your followers know you have a podcast, what your show is all about, and where to find it. Before you drop a new episode, add a social teaser with your publish date, so that your audience can watch for it. Schedule additional posts for the day your episode airs. Days later, provide a follow up post with a tip or one take-a-way the listener will receive if they listen to your show. Don’t forget to provide the link to the episode. With consistent use of social, you will start to build your podcast audience base.
If you can give a virtual presentation or chair a virtual Toastmasters meeting, you can create a podcast! Don’t discount this Pathways project; you have a story to tell, and there is someone in the world who can learn from you.
To read more on how podcasting can help boost your communication skills, go to https://www.toastmasters.org/magazine/magazine-issues/2021/jan/is-there-a-podcast-in-your-future
Created by Nancy Movrin DTM Public Relations Manager 2021 – 2022