I’m subjected to Masterchef occasionally, usually if I pop round to see my mum and dad. They love it, me, not so much. I always think it’s particularly cruel of the judges to be so critical of the foods presentation before they’ve even tasted it.
Presentation matters. And it’s the same for your podcast. You’ll be judged on the content of your show, and crucially, on how you deliver it.
You’ve planned your podcast, you’ve scripted some of the set-piece moments and you’re ready to hit the big red record button. I talked in chapter 1 about the concept of creating an invisible script, but how do you produce a podcast performance that matches your carefully crafted words?
This is Chapter 6 of the Engaging Episodes series, which is all about creating powerful podcast content. Read other chapters at the following links: Introduction | Chapter one | Chapter two | Chapter three | Chapter four | Chapter five | Chapter six
It’s a good idea to set your podcast plan, as well as the scripted elements, aside for a while once you’ve written them. Whether it’s hours or a day or two, it doesn’t matter. The point is to look at what you’ve produced with fresh eyes.
Once you’ve read it through in your head, it’s time to read it out loud. This is crucial to identify any possible stumbling blocks or elements that just don’t work. Identify the issues, but carry on reading through your podcast.
Rewrite or Remove
Now it’s time to revisit the issues you’ve found. Go through each of these, one by one. If it can be edited, then try to rewrite the element, if it can’t – then remove it from the show.
Identify tricky words
Maybe you’ve got a guest on your show with a particularly flamboyant name that’s difficult to pronounce. Or perhaps it’s a new concept or even just a word that typically trips you up. Writing out the word phonetically (like it sounds) can really help.
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Mark Up Your Script
Whether you're using paper or technology for your podcast plan, it’s a great idea to have it presented in a way that makes it easy to read. Highlight words that need to be emphasised as well as natural pause points.
It’s also a good idea to increase the font size and space it out so that you can easily keep track of where you are at any given time.
How Colin does it
Your very own “The Podcast Host” – Colin Gray – uses his iPad as a way of silently scrolling through his podcast episode plan. He uses Evernote, in presentation mode, to easily keep track of where he is on the show.
Some people prefer to use their laptop. If that's the case remember, modern mics are so powerful and the constant ‘tap, tap, tap’ of an arrow key or mouse button being pressed can be quite off putting.
Podcasts are conversational in nature, and as such, the temptation can be to talk quickly. Give your listeners the time to absorb your great content by slowing down your delivery.
Throw in some longer pauses for dramatic effect and where at all possible, vary your tone.
Break your show down into bite-sized chunks; don’t put pressure on yourself by trying to be a ‘one take wonder’. Podcasting should be fun remember!
Plan on doing two or three takes of each element, especially if you're ad-libbing, rather than reading a script. And to help the editing process, make sure you leave long enough pauses between takes.
Colin told me the tale of one podcaster who created a loosely bulleted script, read it through, only to realise that they’d never hit record. I’m sure he’s not the only one. Here’s the thing, after they'd stopped kicking themselves, they did it again, and felt the second run was so much better. It’s not possible in all cases, but practice the important sections, even once, and it’ll make them a whole lot better.
For a great production tip that helps with this process, have a read of Colin’s ‘Click Podcast Editing’ blog post.
Dinner Is Served
Follow these tips, as well as the advice we've shared throughout the series, and your podcast will be the audio equivalent of a gastronomic delight. You’ll mix the ingredients of great content, genuine personality and perfect delivery to produce a show that tastes great and rises up the iTunes rankings like a perfect soufflé.
Over to you
Colin uses Evernote on his iPad to help direct his podcast, keep his place and manage the flow. When I start podcasting, I’ll use iThoughts to produce a MindMap of my show, but the principle will be the same.
We’d be interested to hear about the methods you use or plan to use to read your script or plan your podcast. As ever – leave a comment.