The Absolute Beginners Guide to Podcasting: Production

podcasting

Welcome to the 3rd part of our series on podcasting for beginners. Here are all 5 parts of the series:

OK, now you're ready to start recording and creating your show. For many people, recording the first podcast can be daunting. Here's the reality: everyone hates the sound of their own voice. It's not comfortable for anyone recording the first time. The best thing you can do is jump straight into attempting the first episode. If you truly hate the way it turned out, record it again.

Should you start with Episode 00?

Regardless of the kind of show you want to have, many podcasters choose to have "episode 00" for the first show. Typically, this is an "abnormal" episode. They are usually used as a short introduction to the host and the show as a whole. If you're creating a podcast to promote a business or idea, episode 00 would be an excellent place to briefly discuss it. Many new listeners, regardless of the amount of episodes available in a series, check out podcasts by scanning the first and most recent episodes. Having an episode 00 isn't necessary but it is an easy way to inform new listeners on who you are and what the podcast is all about.

Getting the basics right

The most important thing is to go back to the basics you already decided on:

  • How long will the podcast be?
  • What will the format be?
  • Who is your audience?

This part should be exciting; you are determining the course of this new project. Whatever you decided, keep these foundational points in mind:

  • Remain consistent. Many of the largest podcasts build expectations and trust with their audiences by being consistent. Even so, consistency can look different from episode to episode. Maybe that means the same bumper, content, bumper format for every show. Maybe it's in an underlying theme that's rooted in each episode. Consistency doesn't mean producing the exact same thing every time. It means finding small ways for your audience to feel familiar or at home when they listen to your podcast.
  • Podcast to the target person in your target audience. Being simple and precise with the intent of your show will improve it tremendously. Remember, when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. There will be people who don't like your podcast and that's ok. In fact, it's a good thing. Your goal is to speak specifically to your target audience. Don't worry about everyone else.
  • Find the human moments. Whether you're podcasting alone or interviewing multiple guests for a single episode, find the moments in your facts or story that your audience can connect with. Stories are everywhere. Presenters use them, authors use them, and the best podcasters are using them. Find the ways you can tap into the human experience on your show.

Preparing for a solo show

Here are a few tips for recording a quality podcast by yourself:

  • Don't script what you're going to say. Have a focus and make an outline. Bullet points on the big ideas of what you want to cover will help guide you and keep you on track.
  • Avoid filler language as much as possible- things like "umm," "and so," or other words and phrases you say out of habit. These often waterdown and distract from your message.
  • Be aware of your body language and expressions along with you speech. If you record while standing up, using hand gestures, and smiling the recording will sound more natural and inviting. Don't record slumped over in your chair!

Preparing for an interview

Depending on the purpose of your podcast, there may be a need to conduct interviews to gain advice or experiences on a topic that you don't have. Interviews are an amazing way to learn from others, supply interesting content to your audience, and to grow your network.

If you are emailing potential interview guests to be on your podcast make sure you include the following information:

  • Your name and the name of your podcast
  • The URL/ website of your podcast
  • A brief summary of what your podcast is about
  • The length of your podcast/ the length of recording (factor in about 10 minutes on the front end for sound checks and 10 minutes after for wrapping up once the show is done)
  • Suggest one or 2 times, including time zone, that you want to record (for example, we always record at 10pm EST, yours might be more flexible)
  • Don't end your email assuming the person will respond. For example, "I look forward to your response" or "Thank you in advance for your time." Assume the person you're contacting is MUCH busier than you. Instead, end the email by showing you respect that person's time with something like, "If you are too busy to respond, I understand."

If the person agrees to an interview, follow up with an email including:

  • A confirmation of the date and time options (including time zone)
  • A reminder of the length of time it will take
  • Your Skype name and ask for their Skype info (or Google info)
  • State who will call who (I suggest you calling them)


I don't recommend giving questions ahead of time. If the guest wants to see the questions, only give some of them (maybe half) and never ask anything that would require them to do research.

Last, always send a reminder email with the necessary information one day before the interview.

Conducting an Interview

As for tips for the actual interview, consider the following:

  • Do your research. Knowing your person and what to ask them is important for an interesting interview.
  • Don't go in without a plan. You are the interviewer. Have your questions ahead of time, be confident and be in charge.
  • You want to ask questions that will get them to tell a story or get emotion. Don't ask yes or no questions.
  • Instead, ask things like:

    • "Tell me about the time when…"

    • "Tell me about the day of…"

    • "Tell me the story of…"

    • "Tell me about the day you realized…"

    • "What were the steps…"

    • "How did that make you feel…" (make them articulate how they feel/ encourage them to reflect)

    • "If the old you could see the new you, what would the new you say?"

    • "If you had to describe the debate in your head… (find conflicting feelings) You seem very confident now, was that always the case?" (Zero in on the weakness)
"What do you make of that…"
  • You want to make the interviewee feel safe but know they are giving real answers to real questions.
  • If the interview time starts to go long, politely ask for more time.

Most important tip when you're doing an interview: Trust your gut. You know when something is interesting or if it isn't. If you are confused during the interview, your audience is confused. If you are bored while interviewing, your audience will be bored when listening. Ask questions to clarify and redirect the conversation to something more interesting.


About the author

Jeff runs a full-service creative company called Come Alive Creative. Jeff is also a co-owner of a board game publishing company that features a podcast with over 36,000 listeners worldwide.