I started Video Podcasting about 3 or so years ago when we at Pipeliner CRM launched Sales POP! our online, multimedia magazine. In the intervening years, I have hosted nearly 500 one-on-one interviews, panel discussions, Live YouTube events, and live chats.
Recently quite a lot of people have contacted me for advice on starting their own podcast – especially as many have had to seek new ways of reaching their audience due to lockdown restrictions. So I decided to reflect a little on what I have learned and share it here for anyone who is interested in podcasting.
#1 Interesting People
The world is full of very interesting people – I interview people from across the globe and the diverse range of perspectives really challenges you as a podcaster. So go outside of your comfort zone and find people who have knowledge and insights that you don’t. You act as a surrogate for your viewer so you need to show that you are intellectually curious and that you are gaining knowledge for those you interact with.
Being prepared is obviously critical but don’t fall into the trap of being too rote or formulaic in what you do. Have questions ready but just like you would in any casual conversation be ready to go where the conversation takes you. I try to make my interviews like a chat between two friends who happen to have never met each other before and the viewer/listener gets to eavesdrop on it.
Be flexible and really listen to what your guest is saying rather than being focused on getting your next question ready. Some of the best podcasts I have done have ended up drifting far away from the original subject but ending up in a much more interesting place as a result.
#3 How Long?
How long is a piece of string?
This is the number one question I get asked: “How long should my podcast be?” and to that, I have one of those annoying answers (sorry!), it should be long enough to deliver some real insight and value and no longer. In other words, you can deliver a long-form podcast lasting two hours if you can sustain a conversation for that amount of time and one that goes very deep into some subjects while still maintaining a level of energy and pace. Like many people, I generally opt for a shorter-form podcast staying within a 15- to 30-minute range. I find this allows me to go deep enough into one subject, keep the guest highly engaged and the content can still be converted into a substantive blog post.
Ultimately, however, you will need to figure this out for yourself as it will depend on the type of guests you have or whether you are doing monologues and indeed how good you are at keeping a steady pace and good energy levels. Indeed a snappy 2-minute podcast maybe where you shine. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
#4 Broad or Narrow
I started off very narrowly focused on sales-related content and built a very good foundation and you may also want to find a targeted niche to focus on. Then you can go deep into the subject area and really build a brand based on that.
Now over time, it became apparent that my show had started to naturally move into adjacent areas such as Marketing. From there we made a strategic decision internally to become more holistic in our approach and go broader. Now Sales POP! boasts content from Sales to Marketing to Motivation to Leadership to Financial Advice and much more. This has worked very well for Sales POP! and has allowed us to do events like “The Psychology of Change” where we can bring together 6 experts with different areas of expertise. This would not have been possible if we had stayed narrow.
My advice would be to start narrow and then once you have established yourself, take the time to weight the pros and cons of staying narrow or going broader. In my opinion, it has to be one or the other because if you are narrow but occasionally wander into the other areas you will just dilute your brand rather than enhance it.
Lastly, decide what format or formats you want to adopt. For example, Is it going to be audio-only – if that is the case then you will likely need to use a service like Lybsyn to manage your audio podcasts and distribute them to all the major podcasting sites like iTunes, Spotify, iHeart, etc. Clearly, you will also need a decent microphone and headphones but most of all, you will need to pay attention to how you sound (yes that means listening to playbacks of yourself), how you interact with the guest and how you keep a good pace with few gaps and little to no crosstalk.
If you decide to go the video route you can still extract the audio and have the best of both worlds which is what we do at Sales POP! – My video interviews are also released as audio podcasts and even form the basis of many blog posts.
Video does bring a few more considerations – so in addition to everything you need for audio, you now need a good webcam and you need to experiment with lighting. Nobody expects you to have a daytime TV studio set but they do expect you to have made an effort – for instance, there are loads of YouTube videos that can give you tips on lighting yourself for a podcast. Think about investing in the background or building some interesting backdrop but do not rely on the green screen feature in Zoom (and other tools like it) as your face will bleed into the background and it is really off-putting.
Finally, just like with audio, you will need to view playbacks and look for ways of improving so you’ll have to get over not liking to watch or listen to yourself. My family makes fun of me all the time “Watching yourself again, Mr. Narrcissist?” is a frequent comment but in reality, it is the only way to figure out what works and what needs improving. I still have a lot to learn and I try to tweak things constantly.
I hope this tips have helped & I wish you well with your podcast and whether you do 5 or 500 I guarantee you will be better for the experience.