Monday, August 27, 2007

Podcast content tips - what we've really been looking for

Some tips from a veteran podcast listener - found in the comments section of this blog. (As a note, most of the "tips" I've found have been on what equipment to buy and use, not how to make quality podcasts...)

Here are my tips to make your podcast better:

1) Start out with music. I listen to a lot of things on my iPod, and chances are, I didn’t fire it up just to listen to your podcast. When you’re podcast comes up on my playlist and it’s just you talking, it’s a bit jarring. Ease into it with some music instead.

2) Have good music. Most business podcasts have “infomercial music.” That pseudo-jazzy, pseudo-inspirational instrumental music that starts out every sales pitch for a “Make Money Fast” kit.

Stop it. You are supposed to be cutting edge and interesting. Lame music totally sets the wrong mood. Use a few seconds of a good song (fair use) or get some podcast safe music that’s actually cool.

3) Don’t go it alone. Very few people have the stamina, energy, and personality to put on a podcast by themselves. If you are thinking of doing a podcast longer than a few minutes, seriously consider getting a partner you have good chemistry with. If a partner isn’t an option, have a good number of interviews or call in questions. Having someone talk by themselves for too long starts to sound creepy. If you’re dead set on doing that, you’ve got to at least break it up with music.

4) Make it easy to find your podcast. People go to a lot of work to put together Podcasts, and then they bury them deep in their blogs. One of my biggest challenges when evaluating podcasts was finding them on specific web sites.

Make your podcast feed easily available and make the MP3s easily available outside of the feed. Why? Because someone (ahem, like a podcast reviewer or member of the press) may want to try out your podcast before putting it in iPodder. Also, many people don’t understand if they can listen to a “podcast” or not - but they do know that they can listen to an MP3.

5) Don’t apologize. If you think your podcast sucks, by all means, rerecord it or re-edit it. Don’t apologize for it’s bad quality - it only makes it worse and lessens my confidence in you.

6) State your agenda upfront. The worst way a podcast can begin?

“Um, hi! Welcome to my podcast. I think this is my seventh… no eighth podcast. Wow, it’s actually my eighth podcast.”

Nooooooo… You need to start your podcast with a bang. Either start off with some news, content, or a brief summary of what your podcast will cover. You have to hook me quickly, or else I’ll press the forward button.

7) Have energy and personality. It doesn’t matter how good your content is. If you sound boring, you *are* boring. Don’t be afraid to let your opinions and true self shine. Even though you may have a business-y podcast, you don’t have to be boring. Think Richard Branson or Donnie Deutsch.

8) Prepare, prepare, prepare. Do whatever it takes to avoid dead air. Have more topics ready than you plan to discuss. Cut things short if you run out of things to say. There’s nothing worse than a podcaster trying to find something to talk about.

9) Easy on the off topic chitchat. Seriously. I don’t care about your kid’s play or noisy neighbors. If you feel like you have to have chitchat with your guests, please have it before or after the show. I don’t mind a little off topic stuff if it’s entertaining, but if it’s about your personal life, you’re probably boring me to tears.

10) Take speech lessons. Not everyone has a radio voice… or even a passable voice for podcasting. I know this because I sound like a spaced out, 16 year old Valley Girl.

I don’t need your voice to be perfect, but if it’s a bit too nasal or annoying - I’m not going to want to listen to your podcast.

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