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The Format of Your Podcast – Podcast Transcript 7 January 28, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Podcast Formats, Podcast Transcript, Podcatching.
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Transcript to “7 – The Format of Your Podcast” (5:26) released January 28, 2007 (click here to listen):

Hi, J.D. Frey here from thewhyandhowofpodcasting.  I’m going to get right into podcast formats today because I think I could write an entire book on this subject alone.

There are several formats I want to talk about surrounding speakers and topics for your podcast.

First, a Single Speaker with One Topic.  A good thing about having a single speaker is that there isn’t anyone else to have to worry about what they say.  The problem is that there’s no one else to cover or critique what YOU say.

Single podcaster or not, always have people screen your podcast.  They can proof-listen to make sure you haven’t missed anything… because we all know that we’ve been too close to a project, or worked with it too long, that sometimes we miss things.

A good thing about having one topic is that there is only one thing to focus on.  The content that you have to gather can be concentrated.  The bad thing about that is that sometimes, when there is only one thing to focus on, you might wear out the content that there is to find about it.

The worst thing about that… not having content… is that people tend to make up things to say about the topic or unintentionally drift off topic because they’ve run out of content.

So, single speaker, single topic… just make sure someone screens your podcast and you have enough content.

What about a single speaker with multiple topics?

Having multiple topics can be a great way to draw multiple people groups to your podcast.  Let’s say you’re podcasting about the overall issue of health news.  If you cover a men’s topic, and a women’s topic… you’ve brought both men and women to your podcast… maybe you can do a podcast on diet, exercise, and work related issues surrounding them.  That way, you pull in a conscientious eater, a gal that goes to the gym, and a guy at work that doesn’t have time to think about either but really wants to.  The lesson there?  Vary your content and direct it at different groups.

If you are going to do multiple topics in your one podcast, be prepared for some listeners to care about some topics, and not about others.  To get around this, spend a short time on each topic, and give a preview of what you’re going to talk about in the whole podcast.  So, even if the thing a listener is interested in doesn’t show up until last, they’ll listen the whole way through.  The lesson there for that one?  Let people know what you’re going to be talking about, and don’t spend too much time on one topic.

So, multiple topics… vary your content, direct it at different groups, preview what you’ll talk about, and don’t spend too much time on just one of the topics.

Now, what about a podcast with multiple speakers?  I’m going to over exaggerate this, but experience tells me that two people usually have two different lives with two different sets of goals.  If you decide on a two person format podcast, be prepared to miss some deadlines when both of you can’t make that recording date you set up.  Think through who will take control when someone decides it’s not going well for them anymore.  Also, make sure you keep your audience informed when one of you decide to move on to something else… get the point?  Though you might not be thinking about this with your hobby podcast that you and your friend are putting together… I suggest having a contract.  Something simple that you both sign to answer some of the questions surrounding ownership and money of the podcast.  Who knows, you could end up being an overnight sensation, not knowing where that leaves your friendship.

When writing your contract, flesh out things about the podcast as well… like frequency, duration, topics, etc.  Also, don’t rely on just one person to know how to do a podcast.  Both of you, unless you have a production crew, should be equally familiar with recording, editing, and posting a podcast.  If the knowledgeable one is out, the other needs to keep the podcast running for the listeners.

Ultimately, the best podcast format is a combination of speakers and topics.  You’ll reach the most people in the least amount of time that way.  Just one warning… I know you’re saying… why does there always have to be a warning… (laugh)… but my warning is… whatever format you use, and whatever combination you use… some listeners don’t like change.  If you watch any late night comedy show… you know that.  Intro, 20 minute dialog, funny skit, interview #1, interview #2, band, interview #3, end.  If you’re going to try something new, ease your listeners into it.  Talk to someone one week, bring someone else on the next.  Talk about two things, then three.  Make the change as seemless as possible.

So, play around with the different formats, watch for gotchas on all of them, and if you need more advice, I’ll be writing a bit more about podcast formats this week on my blog… also feel free to send me an email at jdfrey at rice dot edu… j d f r e y at r i c e dot e d u… so I can answer your question directly.

As always, find more info at thewhyandhowofpodcasting.com and jdfrey.wordpress.com. I’m J.D. Frey… thanks for listening.

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