Expert Ideas, Tools & Musings
The Power of a Podcast as a WriterAmber Daines | 29 September, 2022
The rise of the podcast is a sign of the times. We crave bite-sized nuggets of news, storytelling, and dramas, and a 30 to a 60-minute podcast can deliver all of that, with the added convenience of being listened to on demand. My favourite podcast listening time is in the car, alone, after I drop my kids to school and head off to a meeting.
After setting myself a launch date, I did a one-day course for newbie podcasters three months to the day. My weekly podcast, The Politics of Everything (https://amberdaines.com/podcast/), aired on 31 May 2017.
To be clear, my podcast was never about generating client leads for my media training and presentation skills agency Bespoke Communications. Many small business owners and leaders hone in on a niche area and operate purely with their professional hats in their podcast content. Having penned an industry-focused blog a few years prior that was all about PR and media, I knew the scope was limited, and to be honest, I would be pretty bored doing the show three episodes in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love writing, and my early journalism career as a newspaper reporter is something I enjoyed more than most of the communications jobs I had afterward. For me, a podcast was a way to get back to my interviewing days with various guests who were experts or enthusiasts in their chosen topic. It was not a show about business or well-being, as plenty of podcasts do that in-depth, but we touch on these areas too.
I get a thrill that the freedom of a short-form, self-contained podcast can cover everything from motherhood to meditation to sexual intimacy to wealth creation. These are life topics that resonate for me as a Generation X woman raising a family in an increasingly cluttered, noisy, and chaotic world. I just figured others like me and not like me could benefit from spending 30 minutes conversing with a range of men and women who had their own stories, expertise, and failings to share in the safe, pre-recorded podcast world was creating.
I must be onto something, as five years on, I have achieved over 4 million organic downloads with no paid social media promotions. Many of my guests have been approached by lucrative new clients or sold their books or services through being a guest on my podcast, and I so love hearing that feedback, even if it is not the primary goal of having them on the show. I steer away from sponsorships and ads because the show is about pure content, first and foremost.
My current podcast has a shelf life, which is fine. I am always keen to disrupt my success – something most entrepreneurs would also relate to.
As the host of The Politics of Everything, I rely on my guests to be prepared, engaging, and forthcoming.
Here are my top five tips for any writers wanting to nail their time on air in the podcast medium:
- Understand the target audience – how you speak to a fellow writer or poet is different from addressing a bunch of small business owners. Change your angle and storytelling to be relevant to the audience or risk them turning off fast.
- Ask the host or producer for prepared questions or indicative questions ahead of recording – it brings out the best in the guest and ensures rich and engaging content. It also avoids awkward silences and rabbit holes you don’t want to be asked about.
- Refine your storytelling skills out loud – as writers, we can write, but can you share a story in a lively and effective way that captures the imaginations of listeners who may be busy driving or making dinner? Brevity can be critical even in a long-form show.
- Work on your voice – understand that voice is all we have on a podcast, so if you get nervous and breathless quickly or say ‘Umm’ every second word, you should work on managing your nerves well ahead of the podcast. I do a speaker warm-up that is only three minutes long: five deep belly breaths in and out, massage my jaw muscles for 30 seconds, and then stretch my vocal chords by doing a mini-scream (all hacks from my TV reporter days).
- Stand up. It’s no wonder the radio hosts these days do this. I record at my standing desk where my feet are grounded, my chest is opened up, and my shoulders are down. It creates energy and prevents that bland monotone voice we often use if we are reading notes or feeling nervous.
The future of podcasting is a great unknown, but that is its beauty. It has a raw power for content writers and authors seeking an interactive way to be heard unfiltered and more immediately than ever before.