The complete guide to setting up a learning podcast

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There isn’t a complete guide to setting up a learning podcast. There are lots of strands of information you can weave together and turning that fibre into fabric is the skill we want to develop.

So not being able to produce a complete guide, here are a few threads and some of the fabric of the things you need to do.

Get a good microphone might sound obvious but people will switch off if the sound isn’t great. Your laptop mic isn’t good enough – neither are AirPods. As Donald Clark says here, it doesn’t have to be expensive. One of the mics I use only cost me £25 from eBay. Be careful though and speak to someone about what you want to use it for or you might end up with an expensive echo machine.

Know your format. You might want to do hosted interviews, handshake interviews, informal interviews, panels, solo, magazine etc. What’s the duration going to be and will it be the same each time? Is it regular or series/season driven? Is it people or topic led? For example, you might want to produce a podcast series on leadership behaviours in your organisation. How might you best want to make that work? Just having talking heads of senior leaders won’t necessarily add much – how about getting them interviewed by front line employees?

What’s the duration going to be? One of my favourite podcast series on history tends to have 8+ episodes, each of over 4 hours each. I would never suggest that as a learning podcast. I’d aim for a sweet spot of 26 minutes. – think how little needs to be in it and edit down, not up.

Use podcasts to reinforce other activity. If you’ve had an organisation wide event, a series of follow ups with key speakers makes the event the start of ongoing activity, not a single event in itself. Similarly, following up with attendees keeps the event front and centre for longer.

Learn how to edit. Editing will take twice as long as recording – and much more than that at the start – so take time to learn how to use the software. That means balancing voices, volume, echo and sound quality.

Show notes matter and being able to transcribe the content will be helpful. Also considering what other content you want to make available for people to support the podcast will enhance the experience. You might want to an exercise people can use to comment and feed back on. Or run an open Ask Me Anything session with the guest online a couple of weeks after the podcast.

Music shouldn’t be more than 30 seconds – people will skip it if it’s much longer. If you are using music, make sure you have rights to use it. The style of music you use makes a big difference. A lo-fi trip hop intro sets a very different tone from a typical corporate theme. There are dozens of sources of music available online, or you could have a competition internally with your employees creating the audio theme for you.

How you market and promote it will decide whether it succeeds or fails. Ask your guests to promote it and make sure everyone can access it by hosting it in the right place. Don’t make it mandatory. If you try and move your mandatory online learning into mandatory podcasts, you’ll destroy the experience for people forever.

Most importantly, know your purpose. If you can’t describe why and what your podcast does in a couple of sentences, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

What would you add? Which other key points would you include?

If you want help in doing something like this, please get in touch.

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