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February 21, 2008

5 Steps to Planning Your Podcast

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Podcasting can be time consuming and often frustrating, especially when you are under-prepared and ill-equipped for what you are setting out to achieve. In order to smooth out the bumps in the ride, it’s always a good idea to be as prepared as you possibly can before you sit down to create your podcast. If you’re too eager to get your voice recorded before you’ve laid the groundwork you can often get into a pickle and the show you had in mind just doesn’t come off as planned.

Get into the habit of following the 5 steps below so that there’ll be less time spent pulling your hair out and more time spent getting a great business podcast out into cyberspace.

Step 1 – Email participants and permission requests in advance.

You’ve had a great idea for a show where you’re going to interview some successful business owners and use a clip of one who podcasts himself. If you plan to record your show on Thursday afternoon, don’t expect you can get away with requesting interviews and permissions on Wednesday and still record your show, as planned, the next day.

People are busy and their time is precious. Always be one step ahead of yourself in thinking about who you’d like on your show and ask for permissions way in advance of recording. Always have back-up ideas too, just in case you just can’t get to people in time.

Step 2 – Choose clips and interviewees before writing the scripts/planning your links.

If you intend to take extracts from the interviews to add in between links or even extracts from other people’s shows, it’s a good idea to know which clips you’d like to use before you go ahead and write the script. This means you can then write the script in a way that introduces what participants are going to say or you could comment on what they’ve said at the end of the clip.

Step 3 – Have a script.

Lots of would-be podcasters feel 100% confident that they know what they’re going to say and intend to have a slick, fluff-free delivery. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? It’s a really good idea to have a script of some description so that your points follow a rational and well thought out process and your listeners get maximum value out of your podcast. You don’t have to write a detailed script and then reel it off word for word if you think this will make you sound wooden (most non-professional broadcasters would have difficulty making it sound otherwise), it’s more about knowing what you’re going to say, knowing how your points are going to pan out and, if you have guests, having a few notes about them and the kind of questions you could ask them.

Imagine introducing your guest and their name goes completely out of your head. A set of notes or a script will stop this from happening and make you feel more comfortable, much in the way crib notes help you stay relaxed when giving a presentation.

Step 4 – Prepare yourself.

This may sound like an obvious preparation step but it’s one that many neglect. Imagine getting up in the morning and everyone is out of the house; there’s nobody to talk to. You go into your office or studio and switch your mic on, ready to record your podcast. You clear your throat a little and then start. How do you sound ? A bit like a zombie from Night of the Living Dead? So, what to do instead? Talk out loud or sing to loosen up the vocal chords, do some stretches and breathing to loosen up the body. Have a warm drink (but avoid milk as it clogs up the sinuses) and, last but not least, put a dab of lip balm on your lips (yes, it’s so that they move smoothly over one another when you speak, reducing any unwanted noises).

Step 4 – Prepare your environment.

An essential element in making sure your podcast runs smoothly is to prepare your environment as well as you can. Turn off any phones that might disturb you, ‘dampen’ your room as much as you can (I know of someone who records under the desk with a blanket draped over it), make sure you have everything you need.

If possible, try not to time your recording to coincide your with the time the cats need feeding or your spouse will be home. Take care to ensure you will have as much peace as possible.

Following these 5 steps will go a long way to ensuring you get your voice into the heads of your target audience as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

Sarah Rourke: For help with creating podcasts and other audio resources go to http://www.AudioPodArtist.com Audio Pod Artist – get your voice into their heads.

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