The bottom line is this: People have little time and less attention span. Keep your first podcasts SHORT — no more than 5 minutes, and 2-3 is even better. Don’t cover an entire subject in one go; think of the material as “serialized”; or, think of your podcast as a marketing tool as much if not more than an educational one. Leave listeners wanting more so they’ll follow-up with you offline or listen to your next broadcast. Audio podcasts make the presenter ‘visually anonymous’ to the audience so your presentation and professionalism really count, as does audio quality.
Here’s some guidance to help you shine in the dark:
- If you’re not used to speaking extemporaneously – even if you know your topic or guest well – get a coach, practice, and know your topic or interviewee strengths inside and out.
- Nervous? Learn proper breathing and vocal warm-up exercises. Stress can make your voice shrill or shaky, lessening credibility. A voice coach can provide guidance. Do warm-ups before you record or go live. Some universities have classes in being a DJ – might be worth checking into!
- Make sure all technical issues are worked out in advance, including audio quality. Are you using satisfactory equipment, and do you understand how to get the best out of it? This is especially important if your topic is technology!
- Think about questions in advance of your interview by doing research. Find a fresh take on old topics – any one can re-hash the obvious. Provide links and resources you can send your listeners to after the “show.”
- If you’re going “solo” pick out a friendly “face” ahead of time to which you can deliver your material. Use a photo if you need to as an anchor. This adds sincerity, focus and genuinely connect s you with your listeners.
- Eliminate verbal mannerisms (such as um, uh, yeah, I mean, ya know). Record yourself in practice and try simply pausing for a split second when you need to gather your thoughts. People use mannerisms because they’re uncomfortable with silence, but verbal mannerisms lessen the sound of confidence.
- Don’t talk down to your audience; prepare with their level of “savvy” in mind.
- Practice your material but don’t recite by rote. Use bullet points as a verbal guide to keep you focused and on track, but be spontaneous in your delivery.
- Drink enough water two hours before your presentation to hydrate your vocal cords. A few drops of lemon juice in your water can eliminate “mouth noise” and lip-smacking.
- Try to avoid dairy, salty foods and caffeine before speaking – these create phlegm and/or dry out your mouth.
Leave ‘em wanting more…
- Briefly introduce yourself and your guest(s), as well as the topic.
- Quickly get to the subject at hand — people are investing time in your information potential.
- Outline up front what listeners can expect to learn and then deliver.
- Stay engaged with your material and guest If you’re not truly interested in or don’t believe in your material, your listeners won’t either.
- Ask the most compelling, relevant questions or those which re-state key points.
- Succinctly recap the main points and thank your listeners for their time. Let people know how to reach you for more information.
- Consider following up with a satisfaction survey (Survey Monkey, e.g.). Ask how you could have made it a better experience. Then act on it!
- Learn where to post you’re audio for best exposure, and how to promote yourself to generate greater listenership; you may even find a sponsor to cover your costs once you get rolling.