By Steve Reside

AllanNeal.jpgLast week I had the good fortune to attend another of Mark Blevis’ excellent Ottawa Podcast and New Media meetups. The guest speaker was Alan Neal, host of CBC’s Bandwidth — a rocking show that focuses on Ontario’s music scene. If you haven’t heard the show, you should check it out.

From his 10 years of experience as a producer, associate producer, and radio show host that has included stints with CBC’s The Roundup, Ottawa Morning, and All in a Day, Alan has learned a thing or two about creating shows that deliver what the audience has tuned in to hear.

The focus of Alan’s talk was the planning and hosting of a podcast. I took away five pieces of sage advice that reinforce what I’ve learned over the past three years producing podcasts for organizations such as MADD Canada, MD Funds, and the Canadian Bar Association.

Here's what Alan had to say...

Get to know your audience
Put yourself in the head of your listener and don’t assume you know what they want. Find ways to seek out their input so your show truly has value for them.

It’s not all about you
The show host is there to represent the listener. A listener isn’t tuning in to hear the host – so get over it. It’s a privilege to have access to the show’s guests. Your job as a host is to showcase the guest and to help them deliver information to your audience. Information you think your audience wants to hear.

Listen and and then listen some more
The most important thing you can do as a show host is listen. Don’t be a slave to your research. If the discussion is taking you in a direction that you didn’t expect (and that direction has value to your audience) don’t be afraid to leave the research behind and follow the flow of the conversation. You and your audience may be rewarded with something unique and unexpected.  

Keep your show focused
When planning each show, ask yourself what the focus of the show is going to be. Find a thread that you believe will engage and hold your listeners' attention — and stick to it. If you stay focused on what you want to deliver, your show will flow naturally and your audience will stay along for the ride.

Be a brutal editor
Be brutal when you edit your show. Always ask yourself;  “Is this something my audience would want to hear?”.  Remember, your audience won’t know what you cut out of the show. If you don’t think something adds value, get rid of it!

When you sit down to plan and produce your next podcast, make sure you take advantage of Alan’s experience. Take the time to understand your audience, seek their input for your show, keep focused on your role as show host, find a thread for your podcast, and be objective when it comes time to edit.

If you keep these things in mind, your next podcast will be much better for it and your audience will recognize that what you are doing is truly for them — rewarding you with repeat visits and word-of-mouth promotion of your podcast.

(Steve Reside is Vice President and Creative Director of market2world communications inc., Canada's tech PR and product launch agency.  Steve has produced podcasts for many organizations including MADD Canada, MD Funds, and the Canadian Bar Association.)