Posts Tagged ‘meeting planning’

How and why to podcast your conference

Saturday, September 12th, 2009


Over the last four years, I’ve produced conference podcasts for associations and corporations for both internal and external purposes. If you’re curious about whether podcasting your conference can be an effective way to communicate with your audience, please read on for some tips and insights. IN this blog I’ll be covering this topic extensively, but let’s begin with an overview.

What is a podcast anyway?
A podcast is a multimedia file that can be shared with others. A podcast can be audio or video.

How is a podcast different from any old downloadable audio?

The ability to subscribe is what makes a podcast special. After you create your podcast, you can publish it on your blog and/or Web site. You can also make it available on iTunes, YouTube and other locations, and your listeners can subscribe to your podcast for free.

How does a podcast subscription work?
You can subscribe to a podcast in a few different ways:

  • By email, if this is offered by the podcast producer. You simply enter your email address on the page, and the publisher notifies you whenever a new show is available.
  • Via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) using a feed reader such as Bloglines or Google Reader. Every time a new podcast is published, you automatically receive it.
  • Using the iTunes application (which works on Macs and PCs), you automatically receive new shows. You can also synchronize your iPod or other compatible MP3 player to load the new shows.

NOTE: You can certainly produce audio and video content from your conference that is NOT a podcast. As long as you know where you’re going to publish and position this content on your Web site, it doesn’t have to be a podcast.

How will I benefit from podcasting my conference?
Have you ever produced tapes or CDs of your conference proceedings? Do you remember what a headache it was to create and distribute them? With podcasts, you can easily make your content available on the Internet, saving time and money. Beyond saving, you’ll also be creating meaningful information products that can generate buzz before your event and add value afterward. Here are the main benefits of podcasting your conference:

  • By offering audio or video content from your most current conference, you can attract people to your next one.
  • You will educate prospects about your company, your products and your expertise.
  • You can reach a broad audience at a low cost.
  • You can make selected content available to your clients, prospects and employees who are not able to attend your conference but who still want your message.
  • By creating a Web site or blog to accompany your podcasts, you create a presence that is searchable by Google keywords, therefore expanding your reach on the Web.

Examples of conference podcasts
Pre-conference podcasts can increase interest and may stimulate registration numbers. By adding audio or video content to your Web site and linking to it in your emails and other marketing materials, you can entice potential attendees to check out what your conference has to offer. You can also take advantage of the power of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) to link to your multimedia content and boost your pre-conference buzz even further.

Podcasts produced during the conference itself can capture some of the sessions and grab opinions from attendees too. You may decide to not offer all of your sessions as podcasts. In this case, you can produce “script and clip” podcasts, where you edit your original files down into bite-sized pieces, and add professional narration to tie it together. Think mini-documentary.

A roving reporter on your conference floor can capture all sorts of valuable multimedia content from speakers and attendees.

Of course all this wonderful content can be used to promote your next conference and to educate your employees who are unable to be at the conference.

Tips for successful conference podcasts

  • Start planning well in advance. You don’t want to rush this.
  • Decide on your goals: increase registration, create a lasting legacy of your event, build multimedia content for your intranet or Internet? Then define success for each goal.
  • Get a team together. Who’s going to conduct the interviews? Record? Edit? Publish?
  • Assemble your gear. At the very least, you’ll need portable digital recorders, microphones and computers loaded with editing software. For video, you’ll add cameras, tripods, lights.
  • Draw up a schedule of who’s doing what, when. Keep track of what’s been accomplished. Revise your schedule as needed.
  • Go with the flow. If the opening night reception is generating lots of cool discussion, try to grab some interviews right then and there, even if it’s not on your schedule.
  • Record as much in advance as possible. Script and record your introductory sections and closing sections in advance to save time.

Is this a do-it-yourself project?
You can certainly create your own podcasts if you have the skill and the equipment. Compare it to desktop publishing: Not everyone with a copy of InDesign can craft a beautiful newsletter. Ditto: Not everyone who owns Adobe Audition or Final Cut Pro can create a nice podcast with solid content.

Will podcasting my conference be expensive?
In a word, no. Add up all the dollars you’ve spent on organizing your event, printing up literature, marketing and advertising, and so on. The cost of podcasting your conference is the equivalent of a small fraction of your overall cost.

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