Preparing for production
How do you prepare for production? Do you even need to prepare?
It might seem like an unnecessary question, but we do have to consider whether an episode needs preparation.
There are formats that live from a certain spontaneity, especially co-hosting shows with a set moderator team. Wouldn’t preparation take away from this spontaneity?
No. Spontaneity does not mean the same as a chaotic structure. Professional talkers and moderator duos have an outline that they more or less follow.
Ultimately it depends on how MUCH structure you need in order to feel confident. And that’s something you’ll need to find for yourself by trial and error.
Let’s assume that at the start of your podcasting career you want to have a guide rail to hold on to.
Your podcast episode message
What is the message of your episode? The first idea for developing a theme for a podcast is often thinking from the end. Think about what three insightsrealizations, themescontents, messages, topics, aspects or whatever you want to give your listeners.
So you have a certain basis on which you can build the content. If you find that three are too many, just reduce them.
Once you have your three points, you can prepare the content for these three points and you will have a perfect theme for your episode.
Then all you have to do is follow the content.
“But what is the form or format you follow?” you may well be asking yourself.
How do you structure the production?
To start with, there is no single ideal way to prepare.
But there is YOUR ideal way to prepare, which will change and adapt with time.
Still, we would like to present a few established methods that podcasters use to bring a thematic structure into their recordings.
Ach, wie schön wäre es doch, wenn man sich einfach hinsetzen, ins Mikrofon sprechen und schon fertig sein könnte. Die Sache ist die: Manche Podcaster machen genau das.
Das Problem dabei: Völlig frei eingesprochene Episoden enthalten meist viele überflüssige Schleifen und Weitschweifigkeiten, die überflüssig sind und die den Hörgenuss schmälern.
Außerdem entstehen durch das gleichzeitige Denken und Sprechen viele Füllwörter, die man entweder herausschneiden oder den Zuhörern zumuten muss. Es gibt Leute, die können aus dem Stegreif eine wunderbare Rede halten und vielleicht auch noch eine Sequenz machen ... aber die meisten können das nicht. Ist es aber umgekehrt besser, alles abzulesen?
If you write out exactly what you want to say ahead of time, you’ll naturally be on top of your content. You’ll have precisely formulated sentences, no superfluous words or redundancies, and no “ums” to edit out. On the other hand you’ll probably sound like you’re reading aloud. Because you are.
Podcasting is all about personality and needs to have a little bit of an unfinished touch. Even if you are one of those talented people who can sound natural when they read aloud, you’ll still come across as a bit emotionless. And the written style is often too complicated and sounds well written. That can make a podcast seem wooden. And that would be a shame.
So, if neither script nor speaking freely is right for you, what else is there?
The way to bring the two extremes together is by listing keywords. That puts your theme in writing in front of you, and you can even pre-formulate individual passages that are extra important. That makes production easier. But keywords can miss the big picture. Also, if keywords are digital they can be very inflexible during preparation.
There is a better solution, especially if you’re working with one or more co-moderators.
The digital Mindmap
When preparing an episode, a mindmap is a good mix of free-form and script, since it lets you sort keywords sensibly and write out entire sentences. What’s special about it is that it gives you a much better overview of the flow and upcoming thoughts than just a list of keywords. You can first collect all your ideas for the episode and then just put them together the way you want using the strands of the mindmap.
Suitable Mindmap tools
- Freemind: Free and open source, for PC or Mac. Doesn’t look too great but can do everything it needs to.
- Mindnode: Only for MacOS, iOS and iPadOS. Great operability. The outline function that lets you see the mindmap in a well-structured form is especially good.
- MindMeister: If you need to make a mindmap together with others, you’ll need something with more than the above two tools can deliver. MindMeister is a collaborative tool that lets you make mindmaps alone or with others.
What structuring guide do we recommend?
You can probably guess what our recommendation is for starting your podcasting career. Keywords or mindmaps give you the flexibility the format needs, along with enough of a solid foundation to not need to constantly stop. It will take a few episodes, but then you’ll have it figured out and be able to speak fluently from a mindmap in one go.
There is one thing where we recommend having a bit more text in front of you, and that is the call to action.
Is there a Call to Action?
The call to action or CTA is where you tell your listeners what you want them to do next. In a business podcast it might be visiting a website or signing up for a webinar. Podcasters typically stumble here when they go from content to advertising. It has proven to be a good idea to have the CTA written out more than you would with a mindmap. That will give you the confidence to communicate the CTA clearly and precisely.
No interest in this theme? Choose directly, what you need:
- Part 1: Define your podcast
- Part 2: Create an editorial plan and first episodes
- Part 3: Buy the right equipment
- Part 4: Podcast title, music and cover
- Part 5: Find a location for your podcast recording
- Part 6: Quiet please, recording!
- Part 7: Voice recording and editing
- Part 8: Choose a Podcast Hosting service
- Part 9: List your Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and co.
- Part 10: Promote your podcast
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