MF 408 : Podcasting in 2022: more on style, building confidence, and setting expectations
We continue the podcasting series with a look at confidence building and setting reasonable expectations for your show. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
[Note: due to the Thanksgiving holiday this week, episode 408 is airing on Monday. Moving Forward will return next week at its regularly scheduled date and time.]
Style to confidence to setting expectations (realistic ones)
Continuing on from last week, let's put the finishing touches on your style exploration. The key to this is exploring and practicing. If you're launching a podcast, chances are you listen to a few podcasts or have at least listened to one before. Take stock of shows you like, in particular what you enjoy about the host, style, and format. Explore shows that center around your topic. It's ok to borrow elements and best practices but make them your own. The point of this is not to mimic someone else but to craft a show that represents you and your unique voice.
When it comes to the specifics of style, the possibilities are vast. Thus, I won't tell you how to do a solo or interview podcast but instead will give you some general pointers. As you explore, and listen to others, practice and experiment to hone in on your style. If you did last week's assignment, you should have recorded at least one practice episode. Listen back to it. Make notes on what you like, what you didn't, and what you want to change or alter. Don't worry about being super polished or articulate. The point of this isn't to critique your audio acuity since most of you will be first-timers at broadcasting. Rather, listen with an ear for style: casual, formal, etc.
With respect to interview podcasts, consider your goal and format. If you're a learner, your goal should be to learn from each guest. If the format is 10 or 15 minutes you may only have time for two or three questions. Generally, open-ended questions work best if you want the guest to engage, in which case you'll be doing a lot of active listening. If it's more of a teaching podcast, in which guests are colleagues or similarly experienced experts, it may be more of an even back and forth conversation. Let the goal and format shape the style.
For solo podcasts, try out different styles based on your topic. An entertainment podcast about your favorite books or TV shows will sound very different than if you're sharing your topical knowledge on auto mechanics or biochemistry.
Practice is key for discovering your style and getting used to a format that includes time restrictions. I recommend listen back to each practice, repeatedly if necessary, to get used to hearing your voice. The less self-conscious you are, the better prepared you'll be to share your content with an audience.
Back on MF 405, I talked about two stumbling blocks to launching or sustaining a podcast. The first, having a roadmap and exit, we've covered on the last several episodes. The second is confidence or lack thereof.
By now, you should have put time into developing an exit, coming up and honing a topic, and practicing. Before we continue, ask yourself an important question: do you still want to do this? The answer may be a resounding "no." That's as valid an answer as wanting to move forward. What we've done these past several weeks isn't simply the groundwork for launching a podcast but the vetting or due diligence in finding out whether you really want to do this. That's why we haven't gotten to the technology or equipment yet. The tech is the easy part, believe it or not. Too often I see people who run out and buy the most expensive mic and equipment only to find that they don't really want to do this after all, or start only to give up after a few episodes. Have an honest conversation with yourself (and anyone involved in your show) and decide whether you want to proceed or stop here. If you decide this isn't for you, explore whether another medium such as blogging, writing a book, or launching a YouTube channel is a better fit for you and your content goals.
If, however, you feel like you want to proceed but simply aren't confident in your skills as a podcaster, then by all means go for it. From my experience, confidence comes from 1) having a direction; a why and where, and 2) practice. This is why we've spent so much time on the exit and developing a topic that aligns with that exit. Launching a podcast with a plan will give you focus, direction, and that alone will give you a lot of confidence to start. As to the second element, the more you practice, i.e. do, the more you'll get comfortable behind the mic.
Finally, let's talk expectations. If you're launching a podcast make sure you not only have a roadmap, an exit, and an interesting topic but a good "why."
Why are you doing this?
If the answer is to make money, then I recommend you stop here and try something else. Monetizing a podcast is a possibility and for a select few, you may have a show that becomes part of a cultural zeitgeist with tens of thousands of listeners at launch. But the reality is that most of you will not have a huge listenership to start. Podcasting, unlike other mediums, takes time. It takes time to build an audience and patience is key. That said, even as you find your groove, you may not end up making a lot or any money from your podcast. Make sure you have a solid reason for doing this, ideally tied to a topic you feel strongly about, or the joy of creating unique content.
A podcast can be a great way to develop a new skill, make new connections, build a platform to promote your work or business. There are many tangible and intangible benefits you may discover through this process beyond monetizing with ads or sponsors. We'll cover this more in depth later but for now, have a solid motivation outside of monetization as a driver.
Finally, don't be disappointed if you only have 5 or 10 listeners at launch, especially if you don't already have a big following or audience to tap into. The podcast landscape is more crowded than ever and standing out requires time and commitment. The more you stick with it, the more consistent you are, and the more focused your topic, the better equipped you'll be to grow and cultivate an audience.
Take some time to consider whether you want to proceed with your podcast. Review and assess your due diligence up to this point. Then, take a break, it's Thanksgiving week!
For more on style:
MF 264 : Podcasting Styles (you can ignore the sections on hosting as we'll cover that later).
Celebrate Thanksgiving with Charlie Brown
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