Planning your podcast episode is as easy as opening your mouth and talking, right?
Well no. The difference between a well researched podcast and somebody delivering a stream of consciousness verbal brain dump is very easy to hear. And it isn’t always good.
So how can you make sure your podcast hits the mark?
Here is my planning formula that works every time.
I’m going to assume you’ve got your podcast topics sorted and you’re at the episode stage of your planning - if not check out last week’s blog or podcast
There are 4 questions you need to keep in mind when planning your individual podcast episodes.
What is the key point of the podcast?
Obvious but there are some podcasts that start well and drift off down a cul de sac of lost focus and waffle.
What is the podcast not about?
This is not always the opposite of the first question. When I was planning last week’s episode my notes said “this episode is about podcast planning as a whole, not about podcast episode planning individually.” This clarity means I know exactly what to knuckle down on talking about.
How am I going to keep the listener listening?
The million dollar question! What value are you going to give your listener to make sure they stay to the end. How are you going to keep it entertaining?
What is the key takeaway/point the listener will remember at the end of the episode?
This can be a feeling they’ve felt, a useful nugget of information they’ve learned or even a joke you’ve told (hopefully for the right reasons).
Framing the rest of your planning through this, whether you’re a solo podcaster or have a co-host or guests will make sure you know what to say, keep the listener at the heart of the podcast and make your planning life easier.
The next step is to work through this framework.
Come Up With Your Episode Objective
This is the first thing to decide. Having an objective for your podcast episode helps you stay on track and not wander off. The objective for week’s episode which you can listen to here, is
“To give you the confidence and tools to plan a podcast episode”
It’s as simple as that. But having that one sentence at the top of my notes helps keep me on track when my mind might want to look at all the shiny things!
An objective also works if you have a guest on. When you have a guest you want to ask yourself what is the point of having this guest.
Without giving too much away about an upcoming guest I’ve got coming I can tell you that the objective for that episode is “Understand how a podcast helps with personal branding” Sounds exciting doesn’t it!
And with guests it’s really important to know ahead of time what your objective for having them on is, otherwise you risk wasting your time and theirs.
Plot Your Main Points To Cover (and who is going to cover them if there’s more than one of you!)
I make no apologies for this being a really obvious point because I hear so many podcasts where I have no idea what the main points were. They end up as rambles.
And I hold my hands up and admit that when I’ve not planned an episode or an interview properly I’ve often ended up missing the really obvious main points I wanted to cover. You know what they say about poor planning. You really can only get away with winging it for so long…
This doesn’t have to be a full on essay. In fact it’s better if it’s not. Simply some bullet points and sub bullet points if there’s a supplementary point to make. Jiggle the order of them around until they make some sort of sense - beginning, a middle and an end and you’re ready to go.
If you’re interviewing a guest your main points to cover are the basis for your questions. Remember to make your questions actual questions and don’t say just statements at your guest and leave them to decide what the question is! I’ll cover guest management next month.
If you’ve got a co-host this is where you decide who is going to cover which point or who is going to ask which question. Again it doesn’t need military precision to the last millisecond but knowing who is going to be leading which part of the podcast ahead of recording makes for a much smoother session!
Understand Why You Are Covering These Points And Why Now.
This is the journalist in me popping out to say hello. But with good reason. If you can give a strong answer to this question your podcasts will benefit from a clearer focus.
In planning for this week’s episode my answer to this question is
“I am covering these points in my episode about planning your podcast because too many podcast episodes are unfocussed and ramble on. These points will help the listener really hit the bullseye in their planning.
These techniques are ones I learned in radio for producing award winning programmes and they travel well over to podcast planning.
“I am doing this now because September is my planning month. This is the third episode about planning in the series. I am also promoting the Planning Toolkit.”
The now part is important to give your episode context and again it helps with the planning!
This question is also important when you’re planning what to ask your guests. Why are you asking your guest that question and why are you asking it now? You can’t say just because they are available, what value do you bring to your listener by asking that question in this interview?
When booking a guest you should also be asking yourself “Why do I want the guest on my podcast? Why now?
Decide on Your Call To Action
It’s always best to know what your call to action is before you start recording. What do you want your listener to do next? Interact with you on social media? Send you an email? Get on a waitlist for your Podcast Planning Toolkit?
Get that sorted and written down before you hit record. It’ll sound so much better.
Decide How You Want Your Listener To Feel At The End
This is similar to the objective. But I want you to consider the emotional response you want from your listener.
Do you want them to feel inspired? Relaxed? Confident? Happy? Energised?
Knowing that before you start to record means you can help set the right tone. I will record podcasts standing up if I want to add energy, sitting down if I want it to be more chilled out.
That’s my guide to planning your podcast episodes. Follow these steps and you’ll be planning your podcasts quicker and with more confidence. If you want to pop yourself on the Podcast Planning Toolkit, the waitlist is here