Podcasting in 12 Steps

Podcasting in 12 Steps

Podcasting is an exciting tool of communication. However, like any new toy we get distracted by the shine. I’m here to provide a little perspective about podcasting for the beginner. If you are a student taking a class where you will learn podcasting or if you are an instructor teaching podcasting for the first time, there are a few things you should know BEFORE you begin. 

1. Identify a topic you are passionate about. 

Simple, right? Ummm. No. This is not as easy as it sounds. In order to identify a topic you are passionate about, you need to figure out what you deeply enjoy. Suprisingly students struggled with identifying their interests. I don’t think my students are unusual. 

What to do? Encourage students to share. Provide examples. Students identified topics including: the impact of cyberbullying, challenges in raising hens, what it is really like to live at the Jersey shore, and sports. In the end, most students identified topics deeply important to them. It took more time than anticipated. Time well spent resulted in engaging content. 

2. Listen to podcasts related to your area of interest

While I assumed students listened to podcasts on a regular basis, they do not. In fact, we had to discuss how to find podcasts, platforms for listening to podcasts, and different genres. If you aren’t already following podcasts, start doing this immediately. The more you listen the better your own content.

3. Evaluate podcasts

Using your knowledge about radio and television coupled with your knowledge of superior oral presentations, identify what works and what doesn’t in a variety of podcasts. Discuss why the techniques engage or alienate listeners. Use principles of public speaking as a starting point. Identify organizational themes, use of repetition, introduction (setting the tone), conclusions (wrap up). Just name a few.

4. Identify your target audience

It is imperative for students to understand target audience. Who would listen to this podcast? Discuss more than demographics. Identify the psychographics.What kinds of people would like to listen to the content. Research your target audience. Who are they? Be specific!

5. Create an amazing name for your podcast

Creating a title for your podcast requires creativity and clarity. What do you want a potential listener to know when they see the title of your podcast? The title should reflect the content you will address. Does the name clearly identify the content of the podcast? It should if you want to develop a following. In many cases, people will decide to listen based on your visual graphic and your name. They will remain listening based on your content. 

6. Develop your graphic

The graphic for the podcast is your visual brand. It must reflect the content and feel of the podcast. Based on your graphic and your name, you can attract listeners. After the initial impression, the content must be interesting and engaging too. 

7. Write your script

This is the most important and time consuming aspect of your podcast — your content! Students should submit what they will present in the podcast, how, and why. Always know why! In another blog post, I will specifically address podcasting script writing.

8. Basics of sound editing

Learn how to use the tool. This semester students used Garage Band. However, there are other more sophisticated options available. As starting point garage band works for beginners. 

9. Record — watch your sound quality!!!!

This is where your script is going to provide you with the content of your podcast. Well-organized, planned, researched information provides listeners the desire to engage with your content. Always use a headset. The better sound quality, the more professional you will sound. 

10. Editplease edit!

Editing your podcast can be time consuming. This is where your technical skills are going to be important. It takes time to learn how to use the tool AND it takes time to use it well. Fading music in and out, volume control, clarity, are just a few of the technical concerns beginning podcasters must be familiar.

11. Upload 

You need to identify a podcasting platform. Most students selected Sound Cloud. There are many you can choose from. There are pros and cons to each platform. Research available podcasting platforms. There are many more than iTunes.

12.  Distribute & Share 

Get others to listen too! This isn’t as easy as it sounds. If you have a good product, people will want to share your podcast. However, the audience needs to know you exist. Use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest (yes, even Pinterest), to promote your content.

These steps are a broad framework for the process of podcasting. Each of the twelve steps fully deserves its own post.  Here’s the point: There is a lot to know BEFORE you sit down and start recording.

Stay tuned this Fall as new Digital Communication students begin their podcasting journey in Communication Revolutions.  A new post will be provided weekly to address each of the 12 steps outlined here.

Please feel free to ask questions or comment. 

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Dr. Gina Marcello is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Graphic Design & Multimedia at Georgian Court University in Lakewood, NJ.