Last week I again had the pleasure of speaking about podcasting with my friend Joan Vinall-Cox’s class at the University of Toronto. This year she’s teaching Documentary Scripting.
I shared my own experiences with podcasting since I began in 2005, discussed the role of podcasting in communications today, and answered the students’ questions. I loved their questions!
Since the class, a few of the students have submitted additional queries, which I’m going to answer in my blog. So here goes…
Question: What should we do when we are stuck and are not able to think of a podcast topic? And how can we decide or know whether a topic will be interesting for an audience to listen to?
Answer: Writers, bloggers, speakers, podcasters and others face this challenge all the time. Sometimes when you’re stuck, the best thing to do is something else. Go for a walk, make a cup of tea, read some good writing, or listen to music that makes you feel good. Of course a deadline can offer more inspiration than anything else.
Many great ideas for podcast episodes come to me via friends on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, from the mainstream media (including the Globe and Mail, which arrives with a thump at my front door at 4:30 a.m.), and in the many blogs I read and podcasts I tune into.
If your podcast caters to a particular audience, you should have a good idea of what they want to hear about. Ask them! If you encourage listener comments and suggestions, you are likely to receive some.
Ideally, your podcast should focus on a specific subject area. If you zero in on your area of expertise or interest, you might be able to come up with an editorial calendar, where you plan your podcast topics in a logical order. Sure, you could react sometimes to news or special discoveries, but for the most part you would stick to your plan. When I work with organizations on their podcasts, I suggest that they create an editorial calendar.
As for the second part of your question, about deciding whether a topic is interesting: Please do encourage feedback from listeners. And check your web statistics as well as the numbers of podcast downloads and subscribers. These stats will reveal a lot about the preferences of your audience.
Fellow podcasters, what would you add to my answer?