Back in the day, my friend Shawn Kanungo and I ran two podcasts, one after the other. The first was called The Dip, and featured interviews with a number of business leaders and thinkers on the disruption that was happening in the different industries (think podcasts disrupting radio, digital media disrupting physical books, taxis and cars being disrupted by Uber and other ride sharing technologies, etc.) and how they felt about the change, and more importantly, how they were going to handle the change. At the time, we thought we had something to offer because we were tackling global challenges, but at a local level since we were interviewing the people within our immediate network.
The podcast got a bit of traction, but unfortunately, it was a lot more work than both of us had anticipated with getting guests, doing the interviews, talking about the interviews ourselves, then editing and splicing together both our talk and the interview.
After a short break, we decided to get back at it again with another podcast, this time, it was called The Remix and it us listening to other podcasts and taking the best ‘nuggets’ and takeaways from those podcasts and talking about what we thought and how we apply or have applied it to our lives. This podcast was a shorter one, often averaging about 15 minutes or less each episode and significantly less work because we did not have to find guests nor did we have to do a lot of major editing.
Through these two podcasts, I wanted to share the lessons and benefits of creating a podcast. If you are thinking about starting a podcast or already have one and is heavily considering why you should continue, please consider the following:
You will learn about the new digital media taking the world by storm
Podcasts are huge. It seems like everybody and their uncle has a podcast. By creating a podcast yourself, you are potentially tapping into the ears of millions of listeners and likely getting a good understanding of what podcasts are, why they are so listened, why they may potentially replace radio in the future.
You will learn how to edit audio
Editing audio isn’t complicated (or at least the audio editing that we did). We removed background noise, any crutch words or other weird noises, and then levelled the audio (that is, made the audio sound crisp, clear and all at the same volume levels). A great benefit in learning how to edit audio is that this skill will come in handy for video editing, as that is the next natural step.
You will learn how to interview, find guests or content
Depending on your podcast, you may be interviewing guests or finding content to talk about. Let’s tackle the guests and interviews part first. Finding guests is not easy, but it is a rewarding experience because it helps you to expand your network and to make sure you understand what is in it for your guests. And when you conduct interviews, there is a significant amount of preparation that you need to do before the interviews. What questions can I ask the guests that haven’t been asked before? What do I want the guests to talk about? How can I lead the guests, through questions, to a specific narrative?
If your podcast is purely about content (like ours was), you have to put in the time to find the right content for your audience. For us, this involved many hours of listening to podcasts, noting down what our favourite nuggets were, and then applying it to our lives to understand it.
You will learn how to perform under pressure
I’m not afraid to admit that there were many times, while recording the podcast, that I lost my way. Either I stumbled over a question, was trying to come up with something insightful for the audience, or said something in the moment that contradicted something I had said earlier in the episode (or in a previous episode). When the microphone is on you and recording, you are under pressure to perform and this is great practice for when you may be ‘under the microphone’ in other situations.
You will learn how to share personal information
Every time I was recording a podcast episode, I was conscious of what kind of personal information I shared. I wanted listeners to understand my life, but I didn’t want to share all of the details. I tried to maintain a bit of a boundary between my life and the podcast personality, but interestingly enough, the listeners provided me with feedback that they liked how we shared personal information. Slowly, I started to share more about my life, but still, I was careful not to share too much. Hosting a podcast can help you understand that balance between personal information, vulnerability and developing a relationship with your listeners.
You will learn the importance of good audio and the medium
Given that the only thing on our podcasts was the audio, it was important to have really great audio. I did interviews outside where the wind was blowing. I did interviews in coffee shops where other people were talking. Our listeners did not like those episodes. Lesson learned! When we started recording in sound proof audio booths, our listeners responded in kind. Whether your medium is writing, audio or video, people respond to well written verse or high production value.
Ultimately, the greatest benefit of creating a podcast is that you can take it as a learning experience. You are going to learn the skills of networking, interviewing, research and preparation, performance, the importance of the medium, editing, responding to listeners and marketing, among other skills. Even if your podcast isn’t successful.