6 Best Practices for Podcasters
This article contains what I think are 6 Best Practices podcasters. This by no means is an exhaustive list, but rather 6 rules that I think every podcaster should follow. This is based off a question i received from The Eldest Bro on The Ask Bandrew segment of The Bandrew Says Podcast.
These tips will only apply to those podcasters who are interested in improving the content on their show. If you are just doing your show for fun, and you do not want to do any additional work for your show, don’t feel any obligation to follow any of these practices.
1. Prepare for Your Podcast
Preparing for your podcast does not mean just watching a movie that you want to discuss. It means, watching the movie, formulating some thoughts and points about it, and potentially even determining where each of your thoughts fit within the format of your show. (note: this tip does not just apply to movie shows, it applies to every category of show. Movie podcasts is just the example I used)
Not only will this make you come across more organized, but it will make you sound more professional, and ensure that you don’t forget any important ideas/topics/points you wanted to included in your show.
2. Get to the Point
We all love chit-chatting with our friends about our latest meal, and the latest youtube drama. But your podcast is not the place for that conversation, unless of course your show is about your last meal or youtube drama.
One of the fastest ways to get someone to click off your show is to have a show titled “YouTube’s Copyright Policy Updates” and then the first 10 minutes consist of you and your cohost talking about what you had for lunch. That’s not why a new listener will be tuning in, and it will likely turn them off from your show because you are not delivering on the promise of your podcast focus.
I really like Dave Jackson's (School of Podcasting) rule here. Instead of including all your personal notes and banter up top, move that to the end. This allows you to get right into the main topic of the show for the new listeners while keeping the personal information in there for your super fans. It also gives listeners an easy out if they don’t care.
3. Remember the Audience
It’s important to remember that there are people listening to your show. You should make sure to include them in the conversation and the jokes. That means that you should not bring inside jokes to your show, and don’t start shows laughing about something that happened before you started recording unless you’re going to share. The more your audience feels out of the loop, the less they will feel a connection to you.
Another common issue is that hosts forget that their listeners cannot see what they are talking about. “See right here. This is cool.” simply will not cut it on a podcast. If you are referencing something that is visual, make sure to describe it for your listeners so they know what you’re talking about and can picture what you’re looking at.
4. Edit Your Show
Edit your damn show. “But Bandrew! Joe Rogan, Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak, Leo Laporte, etc. don’t edit their shows”. I know. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not those people. A lot of those people have been at this for decades, meaning they have had decades to hone their skills. Maybe in a decade you will get to the point that you don’t have to edit, but if you are just starting out, editing is your best friend.
If you go on a 10 minute tangent about Spiderman in your episode about Tax Law? Edit it out. Did you have to google something in the middle of recording? Edit it out. Did you have a sneezing fit? Edit it out.
If you have crutch words such as “Ummm”, “You Know”, or “Like”, editing is a great way to remove them as well as train yourself not to say them. During the editing process, you become hyper aware of how frequently you say these words or phrases because it will take you a minute to edit out each occurrence. This creates a negative association with that word when you edit those words out, and you will essentially be training yourself through negative reinforcement not to use it, because you’ll know that every time you utter that dreaded phrase, you just added time and work to post production.
I understand that podcasting is this “amazing form where you can say and do whatever you want”, but that doesn’t mean that you should take your audience’s time for granted. I am just speaking for myself, but when I listen to a show it is tightly edited with minimal umms, uhhs, tangents, etc. I appreciate the producer 10x more, because they are showing me that they respect my time.
5. Be Consistent
This really is only for people who want to grow their audience. When I think of consistency I think of Chris Rock’s bit “What have you done for me lately”. I think that’s a perfect bit to describe the internet. There is such an abundance of content available that if you don’t release something, they just might forget about you and move on.
So when you set your release schedule, you should think of this as a contract between yourself and your audience, that you will have an episode out whenever you agreed upon. This will help your audience build you into their schedule and know when they can expect to hear from you.
Don’t get me wrong here, it’s okay to miss episodes. Also, being consistent is not all that’s required to grow an audience, it just makes it easier for people to know when to find you.
6. Have Fun
I bet you started a podcast because you thought it would be fun to talk about a certain topic, so don’t forget to have fun. Yes, you should want to improve your show, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Think of all the people who golf, or play an instrument for fun. Becoming proficient at any of those hobbies is not easy, it takes a lot of work, and the same holds true for podcasting.