You want to have the best show possible for your listeners. That means doing a little bit of work before sitting down behind your microphone and hitting “record.”
Yes, that means having a plan, a strategy for your podcast. But it also means doing a little bit of pre-work too. Whether you’re recording a solo episode or a guest interview, much of that pre-work is similar. And doing the work ahead of time will help you feel more organized and save you loads of time when it comes to post-production work.
Listen in for tips on what to do before you hit “record” on your next podcast episode.
Mentioned In This Episode
- Podcast Hosting Guide
- Episode 185: Why Your Podcast Feels So Hard
- Episode 97: How to Deliver Powerful Presentations with Mike Ganino
- Felt Right
Welcome to episode 189 of the Content Experiment Podcast, a podcast for podcasters that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever-moving targets in any business, and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it all right, all of the time. You have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your podcast and other content to find what works for you, what increases value for your audience, and what grows your business. And most importantly, what feels good for you.
Running a business is hard, and I’ve been right there on the struggle bus with you. More times than I’d like to admit. Your podcast is a great way to nurture your audience and grow your authority. But it’s a lot of work too.
So if you’re ready to make your podcast, your primary content marketing tool, feel easier and more streamlined, keep listening. My guests and I will give you actionable tips and tricks that are easy to implement so you can get back to serving your clients and making those sales all while helping you to grow your audience, authority, and business.
And you can do this all while you do business in a way that works for you.
–I can help by supporting you through building a content and marketing strategy, taking care of the podcast management for you, or giving you the tools and resources to take this on yourself.
Two weeks ago, on episode 185, I talked about how to make the act of podcast hosting feel a little easier. Because who wants to stay committed to something that feels really difficult all the time? If you’re struggling in your marriage, you go to therapy and try new ways to communicate. If you’re struggling with your health, you do something about it instead of sitting in feeling like crap all the time.
So if you’re struggling with your podcast, don’t just give up; do something about it.
I recommend listening in to the episode. One of the tips I shared was around having a plan. Because you need a plan if you’re going to deliver what your audience needs in a way that they can get the most out of it.
And part of having that plan is doing a few things before you hit “record” on your next episode…and each episode moving forward.
Assuming that you’ve created a strategy for your episodes and each one has a purpose and call to action and they each align with your zones of genius–you should be able to answer the following questions
What journey do you want to take your audience members on
What’s the outcome you want? What problem are you solving with the episode? How will solving this problem support your listeners in the future
What is the purpose of the episode
I share more about this in my podcast hosting guide, along with other tips for making your role as a podcast host a little easier. You can grab that guide at thecontentexperiment.com/guide.
But now, I’m going to share what you should do before you hit record on your guest episodes, your solo episodes, and any episode.
Do your research on your guest – look at their website and social media and know what they stand for. This helps me to know how they’ll answer certain questions which allows me to plan accordingly. Mostly because I asked the guest to be on the podcast for a reason and I want to make sure we get there.
Have a list of 4-7 questions that align with your goal for the episode.
If you’re thinking, but I want the interview to sound like a conversation…Okay. That’s fine. You can do that with a list of questions. Think about how often a regular conversation goes off the rails and into tangents you didn’t expect. That might work with your episode, but it might not.
Also, think about how often there’s a lull in conversation. Where you run out of things to talk about. This happens with the best of friends, let alone with people you don’t know as well. You don’t want this to happen on the podcast. Even though yes, that silence can be edited out…it feels really awkward in the moment and could impact the flow during the rest of the interview
Run through the questions with the guest before starting
Surprises are really great…but not when you’re trying to put your best foot forward in your business. As a podcast guest, it’s nice to feel prepared and like you know what’s coming so you can weigh your answers as you go.
I don’t think it’s necessary to send guests all the questions in advance of the interview (though I’ve really appreciated the times when someone has done that). But I do like to run through the questions with the guest at the beginning of our interview, before I hit record. The guest should already be aware of what we’re going to talk about–because you’ve mentioned it in your communication in advance. And going over the questions quickly gives them a preview and allows you to talk about anything else that you can add–or take away.
Have time blocked off so you can record your intro and outro right after the interview – as well as the show notes – it saves so much time later because the interview is fresh in your mind; otherwise you have to re-listen to the interview. Or is that just me?
As much as I talk about batching, I struggle with this a lot. In fact, I just had to write show notes for an interview I recorded four months ago. It’s so silly.
Do your research on your topic, even if you’re an expert
You never know what new ideas or research are out there
This is really helpful even when you know your stuff and it’s something you do for clients. There is always…always…something new to learn. And when you do research on your topic in advance, you can see how other people are talking about the topic. That’s usually good for some additional sound bytes.
As I was researching for this episode, I found a few other tips that I hadn’t thought of that I expanded on here. And I was also struck by how many podcast managers are talking about how to start a podcast, but not necessarily giving tips for simplifying a podcast that already exists. So this episode you’re listening to is pretty unique!
Have an outline – or a script
Do not wing your solo episodes. Just don’t. Your listeners deserve a well thought-out episode where you deliver on whatever promise you’re giving them in the title.
I’ve confessed before to scripting all my solo episodes…and I scripted this one too. I know what I want to say and how I want to say it and I know I’ll forget if I try to record without a script. I try to make it sound as natural as possible, and sometimes I go off script a little (I tend to get flustered when I do that). And also, it’s a podcast. At the moment I’m not recording any video along with it so no one can SEE me read the script.
Maybe one day I’ll record with just an outline but I prefer the script.
If you have an outline, know what major points you want to make and have them written down. If you’re going to refer to previous episodes, know the episode numbers so you can say them on the recording. Don’t just say “I’ll link to it in the show notes.” I mean, yes, do link to the previous episodes you’re referring to in the show notes. But also say the episode number in the actual recording too. It simplifies things for listeners and they may queue up that episode as they’re listening to the current one…bit bonus in my opinion, because now you have someone binging!
Have time blocked off to do the show notes right after recording
This is for the exact reason I mentioned in my list for guest episodes. You’re going to forget what you talked about. And if you’ve just outlined or scripted, then recorded an episode, you have that topic on the brain. Maybe that will help you come up with some fun social media captions or give you inspiration for your email that goes out with your episode.
Maybe you block time on your calendar to record or you just record solo episodes when you have space. Either way, make sure there’s at least 45 minutes extra available for the promotional pieces.
For any episode
We all have stuff going on around us…all the time. Phone notifications, Slack, email. Plus, if you’re working from home, you might have kids or pets underfoot.
Turn off all your notifications and move your phone to where you can’t see it. Close your email and Facebook, quit Slack and your project management system. This is especially true if you’re doing an interview–notifications are seriously my kryptonite and I get incredibly irritated when someone I’m talking to looks at notifications. You’re there for an interview. Be present.
You may not be able solve the kid and pet challenge but I like to make sure that my dogs have recently been walked or locked in another room. One of my dogs loves to get up from a nap mid-recording and shake so everyone can hear her tags rattle. Sometimes I’ll edit that out and sometimes I don’t bother but it’s frustrating.
If your kids are old enough, tell them you’re recording something and need silence for a specified amount of time. If they’re not old enough, enlist someone to help keep them busy while you record. Or record when they’re asleep. I don’t recommend trying to record with a baby next to you or a toddler on your lap. My daughter was much older when I started my podcast so I haven’t had to worry about that but I will tell you…older teens and young adults can be pretty noisy too. And they also have their own agendas of needs!
Make sure your space doesn’t echo
This is pretty huge since the echo or hollow sound can impact your listeners’ experience. I’ve done a few different things over the years for this, and while I know I’m not perfect, I have some tips for you.
If you’re in a room with hard floor…no matter what kind of flooring it is…get some area rugs to absorb sound.
If you don’t have a lot of stuff on your walls, I recommend something like Felt Right wall panels. They aren’t cheap but there are so many colors available that you can probably find something in your brand colors. That’s fun! If you’ve seen any of my videos in the last 12 months, you’ll see a pink-ish panel behind me in my coworking space office. I also have a wall there that has mountains made of Felt Right panels, in my brand colors.
I’m getting ready to move out of my coworking space as I’m moving further away than I’d like to drive. My new home office will have hard floors and I’m planning to get enough panels to cover the entire wall behind me in my office.
If you’re on a budget, I’ve rigged my own panels in the past. I bought some tri-fold boards that kids use for science projects and hot glued some super cheap foam panels to them. Then, when I was ready to record, I propped up the boards around me. It looked pretty tacky but it’s a podcast…no one could see it. To find the foam panels, just google “acoustic foam panels” or search for them on Amazon. This solution is less than $50 and totally worth it.
You have more energy when you stand up, and if you listen all the way back to episode 97 with Mike Ganino, you’ll learn why.
I’ll be honest and tell you that I don’t do this, even though it would be really easy for me since I have an electric sit/stand desk. So do as I say not as I do?
If you feel like you lack energy in your episodes, stand up.
Okay, to recap some of the ideas of what to do before hitting record next…
Do your research, whether it’s a guest or solo episode
Know what you want to talk about and have questions for guests planned out in advance OR have a script or outline for your solo episodes
Have time blocked off immediately after recording any episode so you can do your show notes and promotional posts
Minimize your distractions as much as you can
Make sure your space doesn’t echo–and I want to add to this that you can even record something and send it to your editor or a friend, if you’re editing yourself, to get feedback on the audio quality
And if you feel like you lack energy but NEED to record, stand up!
For more tips and tricks on upleveling your role as a podcast host, be sure to grab my guide at thecontentexperiement.ccom/guide
If you found value in what you learned here today, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. Tag me at thecontentexperiment and Karen at 5_Minute_Success; Karen.Briscoe. The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners, just like you, who need to hear the message that they are not alone.