In learning anything new there is always a sharp learning curve, and you’re sure to make a few mistakes a long the way, we all do. However in an effort to save you some grief and embarrassment along the way I’ve compiled a short list of some common mistakes and how to avoid them. So read on, and enter the podcasting arena a few steps ahead of the competition.
Number One – Reading from a script. While I strongly recommend writing out an outline of what you want to cover in your podcast it isn’t necessary to read verbatim from a script. When most people try reading directly from a script they wind up sounding like Ben Stein. “Bueller?” It isn’t entertaining and you’ll lose your audience before you even have a chance to get started. So unless you have a background in acting or extemporaneous reading it’s probably a good idea to forgo the script.
An easy solution is to make a list of talking points, note cards, or even a more detailed outline of what you intend to say in your podcast. So long as the format leaves room for improvisation it will come across as more friendly and conversational. It may take a few tries to get used to “winging it,” but you’ll sound much better. It’s still advisable to rehearse and edit your podcast whenever possible you not to the point where it sounds too scripted or contrived.
Number Two – Sound. While not everyone can afford really slick production values it is important to appear at least professional. This means investing in a good quality microphone, some headphones, and an editing program of some sort.
This doesn’t necessarily involve a large investment though. The mic and headphones can be obtained for a reasonable amount, and you can download a free program like Audacity which will allow you to edit your show. Audacity will allow you lay down tracks of music, edit out coughs, “ums”, or even portions of the podcast that you aren’t happy with. It’s also worthwhile to do a sound check before spending 15 to 30 minutes recording a podcast that is unintelligible. Check that the mic volume is properly adjusted and that there isn’t any background interference.
Number Three – Infrequent episodes. No one wants to subscribe to a show if it only airs sporadically. Why? Mainly because it’s hard to get into and maintain interest in a show if it isn’t on enough to keep you engaged in the content. At the very least try to have shows broadcast ever other week if not weekly. It’s true that some shows are only released monthly but generally the more frequent the show airs the higher its ratings are.
Number Four – No call to action. It’s rare that a listener will come to find your podcast in the context of your site. Most people will probably stumble across your podcast via podcast directory that’s why it’s important to make sure you include a call to action at the end of your podcast. The fact is that if you don’t provide a clear way for people to interact with you then they won’t.
Number Five – No album art. This really only applies when submitting your podcasts to the various podcast directories and podcatchers. iTunes, for example, allows album art and more often than not people don’t even take a second look at the podcasts without it. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and you can even use your logo as the album art so long as it communicates something about the podcast.