by Hilda Labrada Gore
In summertime, you see all kinds of do’s and don’ts around town and while on vacation. The white sock/sandal combo? A perpetual don’t. The relaxed romper for an evening out, after being on the beach all day? A definite do. If only podcasting guidelines for were as clear-cut as fashion rules! But, then again, since most indie podcasters are rebels and trailblazers, maybe it’s better that there’s no big book of podcasting rules. We would just toss it in the trash and make our own way, right?
So, in light of the above, this is not a list of rules, but rather a gentle summer guide of podcasting do’s and don’ts. Whether you have an interview-style show, or whether you’re flying solo, there will certainly be some tips below that will apply to you!
Go on vacation…w/o telling your listeners! Taking a break has been dubbed “pod-pausing. “ I get it. Life happens and your schedule may get thrown off. Just warn your listeners about your hiatus (with a definite timeline, e.g. “I’ll be off the grid for 2 weeks”) and/or keep things going by re-posting old episodes (e.g.: “I’m getting some awesome new episodes ready for you. In the meantime, here is episode #13 from the archives….”) Your audience is your family. Don’t leave them hanging.
Get tied down by your script. If you have an interview-style show, it’s fine to have notes as a starting-off point. But you should not be so tied to your questions that you actually miss what your guest is saying. A guest (on someone else’s show) told me recently that the show host pivoted so much, she felt dizzy and ignored. There were no follow-up questions to her replies; there were just unrelated queries that had been pre-planned. No bueno.
Not listen. Okay, I know it’s a double negative, but this is bad. Don’t be that person who spaces out and goes on auto-pilot. A friend on another show said that the host would exclaim, “That’s incredible.” after. every. comment. she. made.. My friend knew that she was not that profound. What strained credulity was the host’s mindless mantra.
Not follow through. Another double negative. I know. But this is a no-no. I got invited to be a guest on a podcast, but I thought a well-known author would be a better, bigger “get” for the podcaster. I spoke to the author (who had been on my own show) and she agreed to be interviewed on this other show. The podcaster sounded thrilled when I told her about it and promised to email me to follow up (for a virtual introduction). She never did. It’s a miss for her and you can bet that I won’t be recommending any more guests for her in the near future.
Your homework! Yes, it’s summer, but there is still work to be done in June, July, and August. Remember the scene from “The Devil Wears Prada” where the assistants to the head of the fashion magazine would whisper names and occupations in her ear as people approached? To make a good impression, and to nail the interview, you need to know a thing or two about your guest beforehand. I ask mine to send me some links so I can learn more about them and their latest projects.
Show the love. Podcasting is a very relational business. After the mic is disconnected, stay connected to your guests and your audience! Make sure to send your guest a thank you for coming on the show. Re-tweet or comment on their tweets. Be responsive to your audience when they comment on episodes or on your FB page. Make sure the love flows and that communication remains a two-way street.
Play with your style. Summer is a laid-back time, so feel free to experiment. If your podcast format is feeling a little stale, switch it up! No one in the podcast world takes themselves too seriously in the first place. We are not NPR (and even they like to have a little fun). So don’t be afraid to experiment. Try something new. You can add more sound effects, shorten or lengthen the intro banter, etc. I added a bonus episode for fun in June. And an added bonus for me was that it upped my downloads for the month!
Put yourself out there. You wouldn’t even be podcasting if you didn’t have a message you wanted to bring to the world. Don’t forget that this is the goal. When you hand out your podcast business card or tweet or post, it’s not you just trying to expand your “empire.” You are taking steps to get an important word out. So don’t shrink back, vocally, or in other ways. Invite a big name guest. Line up a speaking engagement. Get on one more social media platform. Go to DC Podfest 2016! Like an iphone docked on your beach blanket, don’t be afraid to TURN IT UP!
These “summer” guidelines are actually always in season. Apply them, and your audience will thank you year round.
Hilda Labrada Gore lives in Adams Morgan with her daughters and husband, and her cat Mia (which means “mine” in Spanish). She recently returned from Kenya and Zimbabwe where she was speaking and interviewing folks for her nutrition podcast! The show is called Wise Traditions and can be found on iTunes, Stitcher, and at westonaprice.org.