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Eight Steps to Writing an Outstanding Podcast

by Courtland Bovee

Podcasts are on the cutting edge of business communication, allowing you to speak with your own voice directly to your audience. They add variety to your blog or website and prove that you know how to stay ahead of the pack.

But hitting "record" without putting some thought into what you're going to say and how you're going to say it is a fatal mistake. Here are eight steps to follow for creating a podcast that makes your listener want to come back for more.

1. Choose a theme. Pick an issue about which you feel confident speaking. Try to narrow it down to a particular angle or perspective-think news clip, not university lecture. The best podcasts touch on a specific subject and cover it in depth, rather than attempting to discuss the history of Western Europe in three minutes or less.

2. Consider your audience. How much does your audience know about your subject? What style of reporting will connect with them? The more you put yourself in your listeners' shoes, the better you will be able to speak directly to them. Be sure to include a response to any previous questions or suggestions-your audience doesn't want to feel ignored.

3. Prepare an outline. Expand on your theme by coming up with four or five main elements or topics to discuss. Put the most important and engaging information first; this will hook your listener and entice them to hear out the rest of it. Even if you don't write your script word for word, an outline will help you organize your thoughts into a tidy framework.

4. Think ahead for interviews. If you want to include an interview in your podcast, it's a good idea to plan ahead. Make a list of questions you want to ask for sure, but remember that sometimes the best sound bites happen off-the-cuff. Feel comfortable enough with your interviewee to ask follow-up questions and allow the conversation to travel somewhere more interesting if the opportunity arises.

5. Use simple sentences and language. Keep the tone natural and conversational, as if you are speaking with a listener face-to-face-just as you would for any business writing. Toss any words that would send someone reaching for the dictionary; likewise, avoid long sub-clauses and complex syntax (these things only bury the point). Just because your sentences are short and clear does not mean your language has to be dry. Do not be afraid to use sensory descriptions to put your listener right in the heart of the action.

6. Keep it succinct. The length of your podcast depends on your subject and audience-but no matter how much information you feel is absolutely crucial to your point, listeners will lose interest if it drags. No footnotes or unnecessary diversions here; just the facts, ma'am.

7. Do a practice run. This is especially important if you're working from a basic outline. Read the script for a friend or family member for their (honest!) feedback, or record yourself once and listen to it. Be on the lookout for awkward pauses, confusing sections, and stumbling points. Make notes and do another few run-throughs with the changes incorporated.

8. Print it out. It's much easier to read from a piece of paper than from a computer screen, so print out your script before you record. Enlarging the font helps too. If you're worried about losing your place during recording, highlight a few key words or mark the beginning of different sections to keep you on track.

The more thoroughly you prepare your script, the more confident you will be when it comes down to recording it-and the more effective your podcast will be because of it.

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About The Author:

Courtland L. Bovee, one of America's leading instructors in clear and effective communication, co-authors several leading college-level texts with John V. Thill, a prominent communications consultant and current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Global Communication Strategies. Their website, Business Communication Headline News, the #1 business communication site on the web, is at

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