NM: Scary Mommy recently published an article of mine about parenting sons in the #MeToo era. After the piece ran, I was invited to speak on All Men Can, a podcast devoted to exploring ways men can do their part to fight misogyny. (You can listen to that interview and try to work out my weird accent here.)
As more and more writers turn to podcasts to discuss their work, I thought it would be useful to hear from an expert in media training and presentation skills. Here’s Amber Daines with some tips on how authors can make the most of podcast opportunities.
Amber Daines ~
The rise of the podcast is a sign of the times. We crave bite-sized nuggets of news, story-telling and drama, and a 30- to 60-minute podcast can deliver all of that, with the added convenience of being available on demand.
Last year, I did a one-day course for newbie podcasters, and three months to the day later, my first podcast aired. Fifteen months on, The Politics of Everything has achieved over 100,000 organic downloads with no paid social media promotions. Many of my guests have been approached by lucrative new clients or sold their books and services through appearing on my podcast, and I so love hearing that feedback, but it is not my main goal in hosting guests. The show is about pure content first and foremost.
For me, a podcast is a way to get back to my interviewing days with a variety of guests who are experts or enthusiasts in their chosen topic. I get a thrill out of covering everything from motherhood to meditation to sexual intimacy to wealth creation. These are life topics that resonate for me, as a Generation X woman raising a family in an increasingly noisy and chaotic world, and I figure others can also benefit from hearing a range of men and women sharing their stories.
As the host of The Politics of Everything, I rely on my guests to be prepared, engaging and forthcoming. Here are my top five tips for writers trying to nail the podcast medium:
- Understand the target audience. How you speak to a fellow writer or poet is different to addressing a bunch of small business owners. Change your angle and storytelling to be relevant to the audience or risk them turning off fast.
- Ask the host or producer for prepared questions or indicative questions ahead of recording. It brings out your best and ensures content is rich and engaging. It also avoids awkward silences and rabbit holes you don’t want to be asked about.
- Refine your storytelling skills out loud. Can you share a story in a lively and effective way that captures the imaginations of listeners who are maybe busy driving or making dinner? Brevity can be very important even in a long-form show.
- Work on your voice. Understand that voice is all we have on a podcast, so if you get nervous and breathless quickly, or find you say ‘Umm’ every second word, you should work on managing your nerves well ahead of the podcast. I do a 3-minute-long speaker warm-up: five deep belly breaths in and out, massage my jaw muscles for 30 seconds and then stretch my vocal chords with a mini-scream (all hacks from my TV reporter days).
- Stand up. It’s no wonder radio hosts these days do this. I record at my standing desk where my feet are grounded, my chest is opened up and my shoulders down. It creates energy and prevents that bland monotone voice we often use if we are reading notes or feeling a bit nervous.
The future of podcasting is a great unknown, but that is its beauty. It has a raw power for content writers and authors seeking an interactive way to be heard unfiltered and more immediately than ever before.
— Amber Daines
Amber Daines is a self-made CEO, trainer, podcaster, author and media addict who is a mother to two young boys. A former international TV and print journalist turned PR powerhouse, she has worked in communications for almost 20 years. Since May 2017, Amber has run a weekly guest interview podcast, The Politics of Everything.