media update’s Emma Beavon tells you all you need to know about making a high-quality podcast.

First, what is a podcast?

A podcast is a digital audio programme or recording, similar to a TV or radio show, that can be downloaded or made available on various mobile devices. They are typically available as a series, which can be received by subscribers automatically.

Podcasts differ from TV and radio shows as listeners are in control of when and where they want to listen to them, whereas TV and radio shows have a set time and channel for specific shows.

They can be any length — in fact, the longest uninterrupted podcast episode was a whole 52 hours! Needless to say, as a podcaster, you have complete control. 

Types of podcasts

Now that you understand what a podcast is, the first step to creating one is deciding what type you want to create.

There are five different podcast styles you can make use of, but you need to decide which one will best suit your topic and your specific vision.

Here are the five types of podcasting styles:

  • Interview: This is the most common format. It includes a host that introduces guests and then chats to them about a specific topic. 
  • Monologue: This commentary-style podcast is built around one personality, which gives the show one voice and viewpoint.
  • Multiple hosts: This kind of podcast is divided up between several different people or co-hosts who share the task of leading the show.
  • Narrative: This storytelling-style focuses on how the content is presented. It has fuelled the recent popularity of podcasting.
  • Mixed: This is a hybrid format that uses elements of each of the four other podcast styles. It may repurpose content from other platforms, such as radio and TV. Once you have decided on the style of your podcast, the fun begins. It’s time to create your podcast!

1. Use a decent microphone

If you use your phone to record your podcast, it can sound like you just recorded a very long voicemail. This is because the quality of your phone mic is not good enough for a podcast. 

When an audience listens to a podcast, they expect the quality to be clear, otherwise, they’ll find a different podcast to listen to instead. That is why you need to invest in a proper mic specifically made for podcasting. 

2. Decide on a topic

Every great podcast has on overriding theme or topic that then ties every episode together. For example, A Life Lived explores the lives of notable people. These people range from Amy Winehouse to Muhammad Ali. The podcast’s overriding theme is about the lives of well-known and admirable people, with each episode covering a different person.

Once have an overriding topic for your podcast, you need to decide on a name. 

media update top tip: It is useful to have the entire first episode dedicated to explaining what the podcast is about. This episode can be a short one as people won’t want to listen to you explain for hours. Or you can dedicate the first five minutes of the first episode to explaining what it’s about. 

Once your overarching topic or theme has been decided on, you can decide what each episode is going to cover. 

3. Stick to a particular format

Having recurring segments or themes within your podcast creates familiarity with your audience. And as we all know, familiarity makes us feel more comfortable. This is what you want your audience to feel when they tune into your podcast.

Having a structure also ensures that there will be consistency throughout your podcast, which will become a way to set your podcast apart from others. 

Structure can also include whether or not all your episodes will be the same length. Once you’ve decided on a length, you need to make sure that it’s long enough to get your message across but not too long that you are waffling. 
Remember, with podcasts it’s all about what you say, not how much you can say it.

4. Keep to a script

This doesn’t mean that you need to read the script word for word, but it’s there to keep you on track and on topic. Instead of having a fully-written script, you can use bullet points of the topics you want to cover.

Different methods will work for different podcasters. One thing to be mindful of when you use a script is to make sure that you don’t sound like you are reading in a robotic manner. This is why using bullet points can be useful because it will allow you to sound more natural than when you read off a page. 

5. Use sound effects wisely

While sound effects and music can add something extra to your podcast, it can be distracting if it is overused. It can also make your podcast seem less professional. So when you use music or little sound effects, you need to ensure that it adds to (and doesn’t distract from) your message. 

6. Be a showman

As a podcaster, you are a performer. You are there to keep people entertained. For this reason, you need to make sure that you are able to hold the attention of your audience for the duration of the episode. 

This doesn’t mean that you need to be cracking jokes every two seconds — especially if you are speaking about a serious topic. Instead, try out a signature sign in or maybe have a catchphrase.

It can also be useful for you to tell the audience at the beginning of the episode what you’re going to be talking about and what they can expect. This will then allow audiences to know from the get-go what they are getting into. 

7. Remember to thank your contributors

Thank your listeners for regularly listening to your podcast because, without them, there would be no podcast. Audiences love being acknowledged. You should also make a special effort to thank anyone who contributes financially to your podcast or who helps with the production. Just like we learned in school, always reference your sources. 

Thanking your guests at the end of the episode is an absolute must! But just to go the extra mile, it is a good idea to send your guests an email thanking them for joining you and taking time out of their schedules. 

This will ensure that you retain a good relationship with that particular person, who you may want to invite again onto your show. And it means they will be more likely to help you find other guests if they’re asked to do so. 

What other tips do you have for creating a high-quality podcast? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Ufuna izindaba ezishisayo? Bhalisela encwadini yethu yezindaba

Now that you have a high-quality podcast, you may want to expand into the world of vlogging. Check out our Infographic: A guide to starting a career in vlogging to find out how.