PROPER PODCAST PREPARATION – EPISODE 155
This week on the podcast, we discuss 5 steps to ensure your proper podcast preparation.
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This week, let’s talk about proper podcast preparation for your episode to ensure you are reaching your goals.
You must know where you’re going before you can actually get there. That statement is true with a road trip and it is also true with your podcast. When you set out to record a show, you must have goals in mind. Once you’ve determined what you hope to accomplish, you can then decide how you will make it happen.
So many podcasters seem to record their show less than fully prepared. I hear hosts often search for details that should be right at their fingertips. There is no reason to lack the proper information while you are doing your show. If you’ve fully prepared for your podcast, the information should be right in front of you.
Is rehearsal really the enemy of spontaneity?
Many people refuse to rehearse any part of their podcast, because they feel it will remove all spontaneity from the show.
Think about a speech you have given. When you have only rehearsed the speech a couple times, anxiety sets in.
Thinking about making a mistake makes you nervous. Your lack of preparation is the cause. You worry that you may forget something. You are not prepared.
On the other hand, when you have rehearsed the speech many, many times, you eventually know it by heart. You begin to feel much more confident. The worry isn’t present. You begin to relax.
When you relax, the spontaneity kicks in.
Spontaneity in your speech happens most when you aren’t worried about the mechanics of the presentation. Your mind is allowed to move naturally through the material.
This relaxation helps you become truly engaged with the audience and material. Wonderful, creative, spontaneous things happen when you reach this point.
The same can be said for your podcast. When you know the material, have defined a specific goal for the show, and have mapped out a plan to achieve that goal, your podcast will be filled with many “oh wow” moments.
When you worry about your content, you have no brain power left for spontaneous things to happen.
Where are you spending your time? Are you too busy thinking about the next question and blocking out the spontaneity? Is rehearsal really the enemy of spontaneity?
There are five key steps to proper podcast preparation. Taking these five steps each time you record will give your show focus, make your show more entertaining, and create stronger relationships with your listeners. These steps will also make you sound more professional.
If you have ever fought the impostor syndrome, being more prepared will help you win that battle.
The impostor syndrome, or impostor phenomenom, is the psychological phenomemon in which people are unable to interalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence that proves they are deserving and successful, those that suffer from impostor syndrome do not feel they deserve the success. These people believe their success came about not because of skill or expertise, but more because of luck or manipulation.
Students sometimes face this phenomenom in college when they tell themselves they really don’t belong in such an esteemed university and others may soon discover the fraud.
It is common for us all to experience the impostor syndrome to some extent. The phenomenom is roughly the opposite of your ego. Your ego is telling you that you are the best around and people should admire everything you’ve done. Your internal impostor is then telling you that you have no authority to be doing this. You are a fake and a fraud with no credibility. The only reason you are in this position according to your internal impostor is because nobody has yet discovered the truth.
Both your ego and impostor exist within you. Learning how to manage both is a challenge. Being well prepared for your show and having the confidence to stick to the plan will help you win that battle.
Here are the five steps for adequate podcast preparation.
1. YOUR GOAL
Overall, what do you hope to accomplish with this particular show? Define the call to action you hope to make your listeners take. Here, you are defining the ultimate purpose of this specific show.
The purpose of this particular episode may be more focused than the overall goal for the podcast as a whole. If the general goal for your podcast is to teach people to coach lacrosse, the goal of the show today might be to discuss the power of Double-Goal Coaching. The goal today is a subset of the goal for the podcast overall.
Your call to action of your show could be many things. It could be teaching your audience in order to build relationships, sales of your product, visiting your website, supporting your cause, joining your club or simply listening again. Know what you hope to accomplish before you begin the journey.
Knowing the goal for your show will help you develop a filter for your subject matter and topics. When each topic passes through this goal filter, you will be able to determine if the topic should be part of the show and how to best handle the content. Your show filter helps keep the show focused. You cannot build your filter until you first know the goal of your show.
Let’s take the “School of Podcasting” podcast with Dave Jackson for example. Dave is focused on helping people lauch podcasts. He wants to help as many people as possible get up and running with their own show. Therefore, everything Dave does on his show is centered around that goal. His content goes through that show filter.
Dave also reviews podcasts. Reviewing shows isn’t part of launching shows. Dave has a completely separate podcast called the “Podcast Review Show”. Where “School of Podcasting” is focused on launching, “Podcast Review Show” is focused on improving. Both shows have their own unique filter for the content.
The goal you develop for your show will build a focus for your podcast. When your show has focus, people know what to expect. Consistency is developed with your content. You also build confidence to fight your inner impostor when you consistently reach that goal each and every show.
2. STRUCTURE DEFINES TOPICS
Once you have developed the goal for your podcast and a goal for this particular episode, you need to determine which topics you hope to discuss today.
Topics come in many different forms. A podcast will sometimes focus on one topic for the entire show. Sometimes a podcast will have an overall theme while handling a few different topics under the umbrella of that theme. There are podcasts that answer various listener questions during the show. Others interview guests. And yet, some podcasts combine many styles into one show. How you approach your show is completely up to you. That is one thing that makes podcasting so great. You are in control.
Your show should have a structure that you follow for each episode. Your structure is a rough guideline that can easily be followed by your listeners. You might start the show with your show open and a quick overview of the episode. You could then include some news about your business and the industry in general. A short guest inteview could be next followed by listener e-mail questions. Finally, you could end with a recap and contact information. Each week, you simply plug in new content to each segment.
On the other hand, your show may only be an interview each week. It could be very focused and streamlined. You get to decide.
Once you have built the structure for your show, you can easily determine which topics will fill each particular episode. You can look at the structure in the example above and know exactly what you need. To record today’s show, I would need my show open, my outline, a list of news headlines, my recorded interview, and a list of e-mail questions and supporting answers.
Many people forget to bring the answers to the questions. Have your answers outlined to ensure you have any supporting material you need to appropriately answer the questions. When you try to answer the questions off the cuff, you will inevitably forget some important facts. It is best to make some notes before you begin recording. That takes us to the next step.
3. STRATEGY FOR EACH TOPIC
When developing your strategy, you need to determine how you will address each topic. Whether you are presenting information, answering questions or interviewing guests, there are many ways to address each topic. You do not need to do it the same way every other podcast does it. Be unique. Find the way that will stand out.
If you are interviewing, do you need to ask the same questions that every other podcast asks? What if you play a game with each guest called “The Hat of Forbidden Questions”. It’s a hat filled with crazy questions. You simply reach in the hat, pull out a question and ask whatever is on the card. It is completely different than every other podcast. It will also get unique answers while engaging your guest in a unique manner.
Here is a tip many people forget. This is show business. You could play “The Hat of Forbidden Questions” and never even have a hat. You could have a list of crazy questions for your guest written out and simply pretend to reach into a hat. This is show business. You are here to entertain.
Do you think the actors in “Seinfeld” or “The Sopranos” ad lib their lines? Of course not. Do you find it less entertaining when they follow the script? Of course not. There is no reason you cannot add a little show biz to your show.
Just be sure to always be true to the show. If you are going to pretend there is a hat, you MUST ALWAYS pretend there is a hat. Giving up the showbiz secret will ruin everything. On the other hand, you could really have a hat and have a ton of fun with it.
Determine how you will approach each topic. Will you play audio examples? Will you play voice messages from your listeners? Are you going to read e-mail? Maybe there is a guest contributor. Determine each approach before the show begins.
Once you’ve created the show topics and the strategy for each topic, you need to create an outline for the show that includes each topic.
An outlines serves two primary purposes. First, you can use this outline in your show open. It will give the audience an idea of the content in the show today. Second, the outline will keep you focused during your show. The outline will help you determine where you are going and serve as a reminder of how you plan to approach each topic.
Your outline should be detailed, but not scripted. Include the important facts and notes on your outline. You will want this information at your fingertips during your show. When you begin telling a story and you don’t have the specifics right in front of you, the story gets off course and you lose momentum.
Build the outline with enough content to help you get through the information, but not so much that your show becomes scripted. You simply need to write down enough information to remind you where you are going. It is the map you are following. Road maps don’t show every detail of every building along the route. They simply draw a line to represent a road. You get the idea and end up at your destination. The same is true with your outline.
Do not write a script. Tell stories instead of reading them. If you sound like you are reading your information, you will sound stale and boring. Engage with your audience by telling stories. Make the stories come to life by using great words and inflection in your voice. You won’t get that energy, excitement and engagement when you read a script.
5. THE DETAILS
The final step before recording your show is gathering your details and supporting information. This includes the facts, figures, details and other elements will you need for each topic. Gather all of the information you need before the show begins.
Look over your outline to ensure you have each piece of supporting content. Make sure you have the facts to your stories. Gather the audio elements you plan to include. Round up any e-mails you plan to address. You do not want to waste the time of your audience while you search through your inbox trying to find that one great question you hoped to include during the show today. Be prepared.
If names are important to the story, jot them down. If dates or a timeline is a critical part of the tale, make note of it. I hear shows go astray quite often when the host cannot remember the web address for their story. The often say something like, “Hold on, I’ll find it here.” You then hear them tapping on their computer while searching Google to get the address. If they knew they were going to approach this topic with this particular story, the web address should have been part of the outline. Be prepared.
I recently heard a podcast trying to remember the web address for one of their topics. The host couldn’t come up with it. He paused recording the show, found the address and then started recording again. This is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes you don’t realize you need a piece of information until you are well into the story.
The issue I have with the way he handled the situation is how he addressed it during the show.
He said something like, “There is a website that will help you with this. It is … uh. Oh, what it is. It is something like WebAddress.com or something. Oh, I can’t remember right now. It’s a great web site. Ok, I just paused the recording and found it. It is GoodWebAddress and it gives you everything you need.” The “Ok, I just paused the recording and found it” line came out of nowhere. Listening to the show, I couldn’t tell he stopped recording and started again. The context was completely out of whack. The listener heard no pause. The subject matter simply started again in another place.
Now, he didn’t say those words exactly. I am paraphrasing. I am also keeping his name and podcast out of it, because I don’t want to embarrass him or disparage his show. This is simply to make a point. His show is great. More importantly, I don’t have his permission to name him or his show.
With a few creative edits in post production, you would never have known he didn’t have the information in front of him. It is show business. This is about your credibility. You are trying to build trust with your audience. If you look unprepared, you look amatuer. Sure, reveal your flaws during your show. But, don’t look like you are unsure of your content.
In post production, he could have edited the content to say, “There is a website that will help you with all of this. (edit) The website is GoodWebAddress. It gives you everything you need.” No need to look unprepared. Take two minutes to make it sound professional.
Get all information in front of you that you will need to record your show. Force yourself to stick to your outline of your content. When you start following tangents that are not on the outline, you get into territory for which you haven’t prepared and have no supporting information. You then fight to get back on track.
Build your reputation, trust and credibility by being a prepared, professional podcaster everytime. Even if you are only doing it as a hobby, you need people to trust you in order to bring them back episode after episode. Your supporing information right in front of you before the show begins will help you sound knowledgeable and prepared.
PODCAST PREPARATION RECAP
1. Your goal
2. Your structure defines your topics
3. Create a strategy for each topic
Next week: How to increase podcast listener engagement.
I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Erik@PodcastTalentCoach.com.
You can find my podcast and other tools to help you create great content at www.PodcastTalentCoach.com. Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.
Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.