Advice for podcasters

Here are the podcasts I like to listen to (or watch) on a regular or semi-regular basis.

  • Boagworld: news and advice on web design and management
  • TWiT: a roundtable discussion of the latest trends in high tech
  • The Word Nerds: A weekly podcast about language
  • Practical Web Design magazine: The podcast to accompany the print magazine (this podcast is done by the same guy who does the Boagworld podcast, Paul Boag)
  • Escape Pod: fun short science fiction and fantasy
  • Rocketboom: A fun short video podcast on various topics, often news-related
  • Photoshop TV: A video podcast with some great photoshop tutorials

I’ve listened to many and found that for the topics that interest me, these are the most professionally done podcasts and the most informative or entertaining ones. Many other podcasts might have interesting content, but if the host uses a cheap $10 microphone or if I constantly have to turn the volume up or down when another speaker starts talking or when the music starts playing, because the production is horrible then I just can’t listen to it. It’s not worth it for me. Others, like Diggnation might be very well produced and put together and even have some interesting content, but don’t appeal to me on various other levels (and I do like beer.)

If I could give all you podcasters some advice from a listeners point of view, here it is:
(this applies mainly to audio podcasts)

  • Make sure the audio levels for all the talkers and the music are the same. You can easily fix this, if need be, after it’s recorded, using audio editing software.
  • If you’re a spoken word podcast, keep the music to a minimum or don’t use music at all. Sometimes I’ve got 5 minutes in my car to listen to part of a podcast. I want to hear what YOU have to say, I don’t want to hear some song, as relevant as it may be. Theme music, or music used as a bridge is OK, but don’t play more than a few (10-20) seconds of any song.
  • If you are interviewing someone, and playing that interview as-is, don’t spend too much time on the history of the person (unless of course that’s the topic of discussion.) If your guest is there to talk about the price of tea in China, then immediately start talking about the price of tea in China. You can, in a few seconds, give me speakers credentials (tea economist from Hunan province), rather than asking him or her to talk about it, something which could be a very boring 2,3,4 or 5 minutes. If you really must have your guest talk about himself, then do it at the end of the interview.
  • Don’t be afraid to banter and have fun. I want the facts, but I want the facts in a fun and/or interesting manner. If I wanted just the facts, I could get my computer text-to-speech reader to read the news and create an MP3 to listen to it. I want to hear YOU. I want to hear your personality along with your opinions and thoughts on the information you’re presenting. Great examples of this are the Boagworld and TWiT podcasts.

UPDATE: Here’s some great advice on podcasting from Podcast Free America

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Published in: on August 7, 2006 at 2:34 pm  Leave a Comment