4 Tips for Producing a Professional-Sounding Podcast
They say content reigns king when producing a podcast, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Indeed, a densely packed podcast full of great information can often be overlooked and ignored if the production quality is poor. Are you making these mistakes with your own podcast?
It’s all about first impressions and listener comfort. The best movies, books, and articles will be thrown aside if they’re dry, boring, and lack engagement. With your own podcast, here are some important non-hardware-related tips that will kick your quality up a few notches.
Tip #1: Talk About Your Passion
There’s a difference between being knowledgeable on a subject and being passionate. Ideally, you’d want to be both before you start producing a podcast, but if you could only choose one, passion is more important. You can always increase your knowledge on something, but cultivating true passion is not always possible.
People love listening to people who sound like they’re enjoying themselves – even if they aren’t an expert on the topic at hand. Think of it this way: would you rather listen to a dry instructional podcast on gardening or the podcast of an enthusiastic newbie who’s learning her way through herbs and plants? Most of us would probably prefer the latter.
In many ways, passion is contagious. Passion can get people interested when they weren’t interested to begin with. Passion can keep people listening even when the message doesn’t directly apply to them. Without passion, your podcast will fall by the wayside.
Tip #2: Adhere to Consistent Structure
Perhaps the most important aspect of being professional is that you meet the expectations of your listeners (as long as those expectations are reasonable, of course). The easiest way to do that is to make sure that your podcast is as consistent as possible in every aspect of quality.
Scheduling is important. Pick a release schedule for your podcast episodes and stick to it no matter what. It doesn’t have to be daily. It doesn’t even have to be weekly. But it must be regular and consistent if you want listeners to become regulars. This is true for many areas of content generation, especially if you want to earn more YouTube viewers .
Structure is just as important. If your podcast is all about news bits and recaps, and your best format is to spend 1-2 minutes on each headline before moving to the next, then all of your episodes should be structured that way. If each episode is a review of a specific product, then keep it that way. Try to keep each episode at a similar time length. Listeners like familiarity and if they’ll come to expect a certain structure with each episode.
In essence, you want listeners to be able to identify with your podcast. For that to happen, your podcast needs to be consistent in the way it presents itself, otherwise each episode becomes a gamble to your listeners. “Will I like the way this episode is formatted? Will it have anything interesting for me?” You want to avoid audience uncertainty at all costs.
Tip #3: Prepare Ahead of Time
All good podcasts have some amount of preparation that goes into each episode. Different podcast types will require different degrees of preparation (e.g. instructionals usually need more prep work than round-table discussions) but if you don’t put any effort into pre-production, there will be a noticeable lack of quality.
Preparation can be as simple as having a bullet list of topics for the episode. In some instances, a script might be beneficial. For news-related podcasts, you ought to do the requisite research so that you don’t spread misinformation and lose credibility.
But for the most part, preparation is about minimizing dead air and confusion, both of which can make your podcast seem amateurish.
Tip #4: Keep It Short and Simple
One of my favorite podcasts – the only one to keep me as a loyal listener for over two years – is a writing podcast called Writing Excuses. Their tagline is “Fifteen minutes long because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart” and I think it cuts right to the heart of a good podcast: short and simple.
If your podcast episodes are 2 hours long, chances are most listeners will skip it. Most people just don’t have that much free time to dedicate to a podcast. A 2-hour podcast would be fine if listeners had a way to jump around and only listen to the topics that interested them, but there’s currently no widespread solution for that.
Instead, it’d be better if you made each episode of the podcast focused sharply on a single topic. That way, listeners could skip the episodes that don’t interest them, but they’ll listen all the way through on the ones that do interest them. Cut out the filler, tighten up the focus, and make each episode as dense as possible within a certain topic.
To see some of these tips in action, check out MakeUseOf’s very own podcast, Technophilia, a weekly series all about today’s technology. Do you run your own podcast? Share a link to it in the comments and tell us any tips you use to maximize the quality of it!