My podcasting evolution from when I started.
My Journey and My Why
I spent 2017 travelling the world with my wife. By July we were in Nottingham, England budging free bed and board from my cousin and I had managed to schedule a time to speak with Guus Krabbenborg, a guy I had met years ago at a Microsoft Partner conference in Australia.
He agreed to let me interview him remotely for a podcast I was launching. He had faith that I was not going to make him look bad. I was very nervous. I sat in a deep reclining leather armchair, the type you would expect Winston Churchill to occupy while he was taking a sip of brandy and smoking a cigar. The difference was I had a Surface computer with a mic balanced on my lap, wearing an earplug type headset so that the mic did not feedback into the audio mix.
To prepare I had read Joel Lindstrom’s blog posts on podcasting and also completed an online course from LinkedIn Learning about podcasting, but as I dialed into the call to begin recording my first podcast I knew I was setting out on a steep learning curve.
I had decided that I wanted to learn a new skill. I was about six months into a yearlong sabbatical from work, which turned into 18 months of travelling around the world, meaning that I had an unprecedented amount of free time. The skill I wanted to learn was to listen.
To thoughtfully ask a question and then let the other person answer it and develop my skills of active listening. By not stopping at hearing what they were saying, but to go beyond that and look for clues about what they had not said and then explore further with additional questions. This type of listening requires your full attention.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced the opposite kind of listening, where your focus lapses while someone else is speaking, then when they finish you realize that you have no idea what they said.
Today I published Episode 128 with Jon Levesque, and as you can imagine I have learned a few things about listening and podcasting along the way. From a practical perspective I’ve changed the microphone, software and my other equipment I use multiple times and I’m thinking about changing more of that equipment again. 😊
To start with I wanted to publish an episode once every second week and now I release two episodes per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It takes a bit of work, but I find it very rewarding especially because the things I have learned apply to other areas of my life.
I am a planner in the way I work and to start with I decided to commit to the podcast for one year; therefore, twenty-six episodes. I started by working out if I knew 26 people and I was almost able to count them on my fingers and toes.
I recorded my first four shows before I started publishing them to create a buffer between recording and publishing. I used that buffer to learn and practice cleaning up my audio. I got lots of feedback from people that I used the same words or phrases repeatedly, or I was very agreeable with my guests. Once I was made aware of these blind spots, I was able to learn and adjust my technique and improve through that process.
I have found that giving my guests verbal queues of encouragement is effective in drawing out richer responses, however for my audiences it’s a pain to listen to. So I learned to mute out my comments in postproduction. To be able to do this effectively you have to record all audio to separate tracks, my audio to one track and my guest to another track. I use Adobe Audition to do postproduction, so I did another LinkedIn Learning course on how to do this effectively.
In hindsight I have found that YouTube is your friend and there are lots of videos on how to edit your audio using free software. That would be my starting point now, “just-in-time”. Learning on key skills from how to podcast to doing postproduction and publishing rather than trying to commit a large amount of time to a full course before getting started.
With planning I would recommend you use a spreadsheet to create a publishing schedule so you can track at what stage you are at with every episode.
When it comes to programming nowadays, I can get up to three months in advance for a show. I do not focus on “news”. This allows me to be prepared when something comes up and the guest or I can’t make the scheduled recording time.
With a buffer of episodes ready to go, there is no need for me to rush an episode. I like to get involved with whatever is happening right now. I find by having this scheduling in place it gives me more freedom, as I can go to events, work etc. knowing that the scheduled episodes will be published at the correct time.
There are two styles of episode format that I have found work for me. Q&A is what I started with and is still the primary format of my shows. I use it for the Dynamics 365 Show and the Power 365 Show.
The other format I use is more conversational, which is the format I use for the MVP Show. For the MVP show I have no prepared questions. For the other two shows I always have questions prepared in advance. I also have a call with the guest a week before I do the recording to answer any of their questions and build rapport.
Coming up with good questions is not that easy, you must think of the theme of the show. What do the guests want to hear? What are the follow-up questions that need to be asked? How will the show flow from topic to topic? There needs to be thought about the structure. It has made me a lot more aware of the way others ask questions and listen when interviewing guests.
As I said before to create a great episode, I need to be listening on purpose so that I can tell if I need to switch gears on the conversation or drill deeper into the topic at hand. I avoid all distractions on my computer screen so I can stay focused and I also write notes as they are talking. I have found it helps me focus and go deeper into a topic. I also try to think about the questions the audience may want to ask as follow-ups.
I have learned that my audience uses the podcast as a tool for learning, so my focus is on education first and foremost. I avoid dissension or putting my guests in tight spots on air. I am not there to interrogate the guest, but I am to facilitate the sharing of their knowledge to my audience. I have sought to earn the trust of my guests and audience so that they come back for many more shows in the future.
In the coming months, I think it will be time to make changes to the Dynamics 365 Show. Time for a rename and rebrand as the market of Microsoft Business Applications continues to evolve.
If you are considering starting a podcast, I can highly recommend it. As it is gratifying and I have certainly found it an effective way to accelerate my own learning.
If you have listened to my Podcast, I would love to hear how you think I can improve the three shows. I welcome any feedback.