Monday, November 27, 2006

7 podcast tips for more effective communications

Here are 7 vital tips on how to make your podcasts more effective.

Keep Your Podcasts...

(1) Short.

Only arrogant ego maniacs make 45 minute podcasts of random ramblings. Only amateur business people start with long introductions of participants or interview subjects. Get right to the meat of your presentation. People simply cannot focus on audio messages for long stretches of time, no matter who it is or how interesting the topic. Mind is restless. Mind is easily bored.

(2) Relevant.

Avoid going off on tangents. Stick to the topic. Stop a wandering podcast and start over again, or edit the finished podcast. Please remember that users have millions of other things they need to do, or enjoy doing. They are not hanging on every word you drool.

(3) Identified by Title and Time Duration.

Never call your podcasts "Podcast #1", "Podcast November 21, 2006", "Podcast Beta 6", etc. Think of some title for it, something that indicates what it contains. And let users know how long it is. Standard form is (4:12) for 4 minutes and 12 seconds. This is something I almost never see done. But many people will skip a podcast if they don't know what the time investment is going to be. To omit a title and time duration is sloppy, lazy, and amateurish.

(4) Introduced by Brief Textual Summary.

Again, think. Ponder how to best sum up the podcast content in a brief statement, or a few sentences, whatever it takes to entice people to listen to it. Even better, provide a summary that conveys the meat of your message, so busy people can get the gist of it, without having to listen to the whole thing.

(5) Divided into Topic Segments.

It's pretty much impossible to "search" the contents of a podcast. The only way I know of would be to provide a timer or a scale that indicates position of various parts, then providing a key, like (0:00 - 1:50) = web design comments, (1:50 - 5:37) = usability tips, (5:37 - 7:15) = credibility enhancements, etc. This would help users find relevant information and skip irrelevant discussions.

Another way, much easier, would be to simply break the long podcast into shorter segments, then label them, like this: "Web Insights 1: Design", "Web Insights 2: Usability", "Web Insights 3: Credibility", etc. Don't forget to provide the time lengths and summaries.

(6) Defined by Audience Targeted.

In some cases, where it may not be obvious, indicate what your audience for the podcast is. Like: "For advanced bloggers", "For C ++ Programmers", "For web developers". Or label the podcast as "comedy", "political commentary", etc.

(7) Clear and Pleasantly Listenable.

Be sure to check and double check your audio volume levels and sound quality. I have often re-done a podcast, started all over again, because the background music was too loud, or my voice volume was not loud enough, and so on. Don't just rush into a podcast, assuming that the levels are right.

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