If you are not happy with your podcast it could be because of the amount of preparation you’re putting into each episode. Some podcast producers love scripting their shows. They want to know every word they are going to say and do not stray from their prepared statements. Many of these shows unfortunately come across as antiseptic and too formal. Some podcast producers prefer no preparation and just hit record and start talking. Many impromptu-style shows unfortunately struggle to provide continuity between episodes and may offer listeners limited perceived value other than connecting to the podcaster personally. If you listen to all the podcasts selected as ‘Editor’s Pick’ in the Blubrry Podcast Directory, you will not find one that sounds either overly scripted or ill-prepared.
Some podcasters may be able to read a script and sound so sincere you would think they are on that special Mother’s Day call to their mom. Some might be able to improvise so well on every episode that you would not know they were recording while riding their Peloton bike with Steven Little. These podcasters are the exception to the rule. If you feel you overly script or do not script enough (or maybe just starting out in podcasting), the following is an exercise to help you plan your next episode and make your listeners happy.
The first step to find that happy medium, is to simply know what you are going to say on your show. Maybe not the actual words you will use, but at least a plan for the topic and theme you are going to cover. This small step will separate you from the worst podcasts out there and give your show some needed structure.
For this exercise, rather than thinking about all the future episodes you are going to produce, think about just your next episode. At this point in your planning process, limit your planning to one main topic. To spur your creative thinking, below are some topics of shows listed in the Blubrry Podcast Directory this week:
- Stories of the podcast host’s worst jobs
- A podcast host’s personal activities during the past week
- Cosmic influences on personal well-being
- Genocides occurring in the world today
- History of a podcast host’s friendship with their guest
What do you want to talk about on your next episode? Grab a paper and a pen and write down the specific topic you would like to cover on that episode. Write down a phrase or complete sentence that summarizes the main topic you want to cover on that one episode.
With that complete… Congratulations! You are on your way to having a podcast episode that people are going to love.
Now, let’s think about two more potential segments of your show that will flesh out your next episode. In addition to their main topic, some podcast episodes cover a secondary topic. This additional topic can either complement the main topic or be separate but not quite equal to the main topic. For example, if the main topic of your episode could be the history of your friendship with your guest. An additional topic could either be:
- The charity where your friend works
- The top friend getaways in your state
- Your friend’s best weekday meal recipe
- Your friend’s detailed knowledge about Tom Hanks
- A detailed review of a movie you both recently watched
Think again about the main topic you wrote down, consider an additional topic you could discuss on that episode. Write down an additional topic on your piece of paper along with your main topic. You now know two topics you are going to discuss on your next episode. Again, congratulations!
One more thing, every podcast episode should make a request of the audience. These requests are commonly called a ‘call to action’. A call to action clearly presents what you want the listener to do to engage more fully with you. Surprisingly this is something your audience craves!
A few examples of powerful calls to action are:
- Go to Facebook and ‘Like’ us
- Follow us on Instagram
- Tell a friend about this episode
- Go to the website
- Subscribe to this podcast
- Join us next week when our topic will be…
- Buy our book
- Email us
Now, thinking of your next episode with the main topic and additional topic you selected, choose a call to action that is complementary to the topics you’ve selected for this episode and write down your chosen call to action. With that complete, congratulations again!
With that exercise you now have three points to cover on your next episode. You do not have a specific script that ties you down to specific words, and you are not in front of your microphone with no idea what you are going to say. What you have is a balance between a scripted episode and one where you are just “winging it”. If this process works for you, feel free to use the same methodology and plan out all your future shows.
Our call to action for this blog? Listen to a few shows in our Editor’s Pick and hear how the best podcasters do it. And who knows, maybe you are few shows away from being featured as an ‘Editor’s Pick.’
If you need help with your podcast production don’t forget we have the Blubrry Pro Production team to help you with your complete show production. If you are subscribed to our Podcast Insider Podcast you can hear the quality of our editing team.