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Lesson 2: Podcast Formats
In the last lesson, we discussed several things for you to consider as you get started with your podcast, including:
- Know your target audience
- Really understand your “why” for podcasting
- Know your topic and subtopics
- Have a great, relevant title
- Have great cover art
Another thing that you really need to consider for your podcast before you buy equipment and start recording is what format you plan to use. There are several different formats that you can use. The three basic and most common formats are solo shows, co-hosted shows, and interview shows.
Before I delve into each one more, there are two basic approaches to each of these formats.
You can approach the podcast as the expert. This is where you have the experience and knowledge in the particular area that you are podcasting about. You can share stories and give information from first-hand experience.
Conversely, you can approach the podcast as a learner. You are basically on a journey to learn about the podcast topic. You have a strong interest and passion for it, but you just don’t know everything about it. In some cases, you could even start from square one. As a solo show, you can document your journey as you learn and practice. As a co-host, the two of you can discuss experiences from differing points of view. As an interviewer, you can bring on expert guests to share their knowledge – helping both you and your listener grow.
A solo podcast is just that – you recording by yourself. This format provides the greatest flexibility for recording because you don’t have to worry about coordinating with someone else’s schedule. It also gives you the opportunity to communicate your message and establish your authority and credibility. There can, however, be difficult because you lack accountability. It can also be difficult to record with it’s just you in the room.
Working with co-hosts
A co-hosted show can work very well to establish the credibility of both you and your co-host. This format can be easier because you will have someone that you are actually talking with as you record, but you have to coordinate with both of your schedules. Establishing a regular time each week can help create a routine and consistency.
Interview shows are popular because a lot of the content is provided by the guest. You should prepare before the interview so that you are knowledgeable enough to move the conversation forward, but your guest will be bringing the bulk of the content. Using this format can help expand your personal network as well as bring great content to your listeners. But, as with co-hosts, you need to coordinate your schedule with that of your guests.
Interacting with and securing guests
One difficulty that people sometimes face with interview shows is that they have a hard time getting guests to come on their podcast or the process becomes difficult or awkward. Here are a couple tips to help work with your guests:
- Establish a relationship with the guest before asking them to come on your show.
- When asking someone to come on your show, explain the benefit to the guest. It’s obvious that you will benefit from the guest coming on, but you need to show how it will benefit them.
- Use an online scheduler to help simplify the scheduling process. This will save time and back-and-forth email threads.
- Provide your guest with the information they need regarding the recording process. This includes how you will be recording (whether in person or via Skype, phone, or other service), the length of time for the interview, a general description of your show and audience, and an idea of what will be discussed.
- Express the importance of creating good audio and offer some simple suggestions. You don’t want to be a burden for your guest, but you do want them to sound good.
- Respect their time, so start on time. Come prepared. You may need to allow extra time before the scheduled interview to make sure that you can get everything setup properly or allow for technology goofs. Also make sure to confirm their availability and end on time (or early).
- Follow up with the guest to thank them for being on your show and provide them information about when the episode will be published. When it is published, share the pertinent links with them and offer pre-scripted social media posts. You shouldn’t expect your guest to share the episode – promotion is your job, not theirs. But you want to make it easy for them in case they do want to share it.
- Stay in touch periodically with the guest after the interview. Don’t forget about them as you move forward. See how you can help them and cultivate the relationship more.
These are just a few high-level tips to working with guests. There is definitely more that can be considered, but this is a great place to start.
Changing Things Up
Don’t stuck trying to choose your format – it’s something you can change any time. You can also mix-and-match different formats together, like having some episodes be solo shows when you usually do interviews, or have segments within an episode.
In the next lesson, we will tackle some of the technology associated with podcasting. In the meanwhile, continue to work on developing the things that we have discussed so far:
- Develop you listener avatar
- Know your why
- Craft the perfect podcast title and description
- Carefully decide on the format for your show