MF 406 : Podcasting in 2022: picking a topic, goal, and result
Updated: Nov 16
We continue with the podcasting miniseries with a look at picking a topic, and setting a goal and result based on your exit strategy. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Topic > Goal > Result
For most of you, if you're thinking of launching a podcast you have an idea of what you want to talk about, be it around your business, expertise, favorite TV show / movie, card game, or hobby. If not, think about what you enjoy talking about most. Don't think in terms of "what will make a popular podcast" but rather what you're good at and/or what a topic that you're passionate about.
From your topic, you'll want to extract a podcast roadmap, aligning it with your exit strategy, which we covered last week.
Once you have your topic, specify a goal. Generally speaking, a podcast will have one of three goals:
Learn: gain knowledge on a subject matter.
Teach: share your expertise on a subject matter.
Entertain: tell a great story (fiction) or connect with like-minded people who share your enthusiasm for a subject (eg cooking, writing, favorite show or movie).
Your podcast may have other goals or mix and match several but try to identify a main one.
Once you identify your goal, write out a result. Your result is what you want to accomplish, achieve, or create by the show's finale. It's a destination that coincides with the last episode.
I want to become an expert or practitioner in the subject I've learned.
I want to teach others my skills so they can become experts.
Related: I want to launch a course, book or expand my business based on my sharing my knowledge.
I want to entertain and capture a loyal audience.
Related: I want to test out a story idea or build my storytelling muscles.
The ideation stage is how you get from goal to result. It's the roadmap of your podcast, which outlines your podcast arc from beginning to end. I recommend using a "wagon wheel" model with your topic inside a middle "hub;" branching out to three quadrants: beginning, middle, end (BME). Within each quadrant create bubbles containing episodes or clusters of episodes, each with a specific milestone to achieve or question to answer. Below are some examples to illustrate.
Exit: 30 episodes (3 seasons, 10 episodes per season).
Goal: learn about beekeeping.
Result: By the end of the show I want to be knowledgeable about beekeeping and/or become a beekeeper.
Ideation: 27 episodes.
Exit: 25 episodes (5 seasons, 5 episodes per season)
Topic: Sci-fi story.
Goal: Create an audioplay (entertain)
Result: Write a book or screenplay based on the episodes.
Ideation: 16 episodes.
Match your exit to your ideation plan
Once you've mapped out your podcast, see how it aligns with your exit. In example 1, the exit is 30 episodes and the ideation totals 27. This is a good match as the numbers are fairly close. I can adjust the exit down to 27 or if I feel there's more to talk about, I can expand the show. However, don't add filler for the sake of it. 27 episodes is a perfectly good number for a full series.
In example 2, I have a converse situation. I want to create my own radio show with five seasons, 25 episodes total. However, my ideation falls short at 16 episodes. Here, I may want to evaluate whether my exit is too broad or if my story is too thin and needs to be fleshed out more.
The point of this exercise is not to have an exact number but a general guide and roadmap for your show. This will give you the confidence and direction to stick with it to the end.
Come up with a goal and result for your podcast and write them down. Next, ideate your podcast with the three hemispheres and come up with questions, milestones or subtopics within bubbles grouped by hemisphere. If you can, guestimate how many episodes you want to devote to each bubble. It doesn't have to be perfect at this point. Finally, tally the episodes and compare with your exit. If the numbers are close, you have a solid plan. If they're way off, go back and see if your exit or your ideation needs tweaking. Again, this doesn't have to be exact but you should have a good idea of starting and end points for your show.
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