Archive for July, 2010

How to write a podcast script

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Yes, it is possible to write a tightly crafted script for a podcast. I’d like to encourage you NOT to do this, but I know that in some situations, circumstances require a script. For example, in a few organizations, every word uttered must be approved, so it’s deemed easier to get permission before recording rather than after.

Why do I discourage scripting and then reading a podcast? First, most people are pretty lousy script readers. (I wrote a post about how to read a script aloud here. You might find some useful pointers in it. Check out the comments, too.)

Secondly, I think that the best podcasts sound conversational rather than scripted. If you can “fake” a conversational tone, you might do OK with a script. (This entails inserting the occasional pause, um, ah and even a flub or two. You should also vary the speed of your read. Do you think I’m disingenuous recommending this tactic? Welcome to the real world.)

Please don’t take a written document (which is crafted for the eye) and just read it. I can almost guarantee that this won’t work. You need something written for the ear.

I recommend LIGHTLY scripting when a script is called for. Start with jotting down the goal of this particular podcast episode. What are you trying to accomplish? Explaining the new dental benefit to employees? Rallying the troops for next quarter’s sales campaign? Getting customers excited about your company’s latest gadget?

After acknowledging your goal, you can write down a short outline, much as you would for a presentation.

Keep in mind that your listeners don’t have visual cues in front of them, so try to use devices such as numbered lists: “Let’s talk about the three ways to…”

Use the active voice when never possible and keep sentences short.

Be sure to add transitions between your points, and a recap at the end, using your numbered list as a structure.

What tips would you add?

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Five ways to kill your podcast

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Focusing on technology
Hey, you have a condenser microphone and a copy of Adobe Audition. That’s wonderful. But what is your podcast about, why are you doing it and who is your intended audience? Have you planned your first six to 10 episodes? Don’t start recording until you understand what your podcast is all about (unless you just want to play around as a learning experience).

Email the MP3 file to everyone you know
Ok, this business about RSS and iTunes is admittedly a little confusing. But please figure it out before you start podcasting. YES, you can certainly email a LINK to your podcast to clients, associates, friends and so on, but make sure that your podcast actually lives somewhere where there is at least an RSS feed! Why? Because the beauty of podcasting is both its portability and its serial nature, which are enhanced by your file being received by people who want it – without them having to remember to go somewhere to get it.

Don’t bother learning how to use a microphone
Some people say, “I paid 200 bucks for this mic, so of course my podcast will sound great!” Yes, with an expensive microphone you certainly have the potential to produce a podcast with lovely sound. But do you know how to USE the mic? Have you practiced? Have you found the sweet spot? Unless you want to assault your listeners’ ears, take the time to learn how to use your equipment. I’ve seen people sit six feet away from the mic and I’ve seen others get so close they look like they’re eating a popsicle. Find what works for you.

Don’t consider your listeners’ needs
“Our content will be so compelling that our listeners won’t care if we don’t make it easy to listen to us. After all, it’s not like there are lots of other podcasts out there, right?” Some successful podcasters sit down and record in one take with no edits.  They have a rare talent that most of us don’t possess. At the very least, if you’re to going to edit your audio at all, please even out the sound so that people can hear you. If there are two or more people talking, make sure they’re all at the same volume. The Levelator is a terrific tool for this. And it’s free.

Forget about shownotes
Yes, they can be a pain. But there are two very valid reasons for producing shownotes:
1. They make it easy for your audience to know what your show is about before they listen, and to find content after they’ve listened, especially if they’ve been at the gym or on a bus, away from their computer.
2. They make your podcast visible to Google and other search engines.

When I look at my pod stats, it’s apparent that most of the people who listen during the first couple of weeks after a podcast episode is published are regular subscribers. But then for months later – forever really – people are discovering the podcast by searching for certain terms. Without the shownotes, how would they find the podcast? They wouldn’t.

(Based on episode 71 of the Trafcom News Podcast, February 2008.)

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Back by popular demand: Podcasting 101 for Communicators and Marketers

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

UPDATE: You can watch a recorded version of this Webinar here.

Ask and you shall receive. Several blog readers have requested this Webinar, so here we go…

In this free Web-based seminar you’ll learn what podcasting is all about, including: how organizations are using podcasts for internal and external communications; how to create a podcast using free and low-cost equipment and software; and how to sell the concept of podcasting to management.

You need just a computer and an Internet connection to attend this 45-minute session at 2 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, August 25, 2010. Just send an email to receive the login instructions.

Please note: Seats are limited, so don’t delay.

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12 reasons to podcast

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

As someone who has been producing audio since 2003, I consider podcasts part of my natural way to communicate. When people ask me about the value of adding audio to the communications mix, I start with these 12 benefits of podcasting:

1.    Establish your organization’s leaders as experts in their niche.
2.    Help to deliver the CEO’s message to employees using the warmth of the human voice in addition to traditional text channels.
3.    Create a “radio show” to educate customers and prospects.
4.    Add life to case studies by producing audio interviews with your staff and customers.
5.    Showcase the work of your nonprofit organization and its people by interviewing those who benefit from the work you do.
6.    Build buzz before a trade show by highlighting the work of key speakers and influencers.
7.    Capture the excitement of your company’s conference or sales meeting for the benefit of those not in attendance.
8.    Give your employees an audio version of the company news as an adjunct to the newsletter; they can listen while commuting or at the gym.
9.    Bolster your training efforts by adding an audio component; some people learn best while listening.
10.    Customers and prospects can easily subscribe to your podcast; this means that they are asking you for more content!
11.    Podcasting is relatively inexpensive; you can start with free tools.
12.    Podcasting can be fun and rewarding when done right.

What would you add to this list?

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