Many moons ago in a small island nation far far away, I had the “questionable” distinction of hosting a nightly three hour evening radio talk show. I thought I was doing a good job at it until one caller stopped me dead in my tracks by commenting: “you may be the most intelligent and insightful radio host in the country, but you sound like a canary on meth.” Not only was that the night I decided to get out of the radio business, but it also pointed out a very critical aspect that applies to all podcasters. To evoke Herbert Marshall McLuhan the medium is the message, and your podcasting message is going to be interpreted by your audience as a reflection of how you deliver it!
How is your delivery coming across to your audience?
Whether your podcast is video-based or audio only, you need to pay very close attention to how your delivery is coming across to your audience:
- Audio. Without actually realizing it, I was sabotaging the value of the information I was presenting on my radio talk show by speaking in my usual shrill, loud, high-pitched, super-speedy delivery thatmadeeverysentenceIspokesoundlikethis. Speed-addicted cage birds aside, before you decide to air any podcast for the first time, obtain the opinion of individuals you trust to tell you the truth. You don’t want to ask your mom as you’ll fall into the purview of the old Italian proverb: “every cockroach is beautiful to its own mother” but you want to seek the advice of people you know who are not afraid to level with you. If you do have some habitual negative speech aspect you can try to correct it on your own, or seek the assistance of a speech therapist. However you decide to fix the problem, make sure that you do so before you start podcasting.
- Video. When you apply moving images to your audio presentation you’re actually adding on a whole new layer of audience impact and that can be positive or negative. You would think that prior to turning on the camera on any video podcast, the host would ensure that they are well groomed and attired to suit the expectations of their audience but the opposite is more often than not the actual case. Many video podcasts, even very popular ones, are hosted by people who look like they should be hanging around a back alley on a Saturday night. Yes, there are some podcasts that will call for that kind of look, especially the ones dealing with some forms of video gaming. However, if you’re producing a video review podcast for a horizontal consumer product and you look like you’ve just left the tattoo parlor on the way to the Hell’s Angels confab, you might want to reconsider the image you’re projecting to your podcast audience.
Unconscious habits or ticks must be eradicated
There’s a lot more to the proper delivery on your podcast than even the way you speak or the clothes you’re wearing. Are you displaying some form of unconscious habit or tick that is distracting your audience from the content you’re presenting? Are you one of those incurable ummers who speaks umm like this umm until your umm audience umm switches umm off in umm disgust? A great exercise is to deliver a few paragraphs of your podcast in front of someone who will hit a bell every time you say umm. You may be amazed that you’ll hear 20 or more bells per paragraph!
Bad habits on video can really turn off an audience
Video is even more unforgiving than audio as you’d be amazed how many video podcast hosts exhibit nasty habits on screen. Some will pick their ears, eyes, noses, or even scratch themselves (sometimes in unmentionable areas) while conducting their podcasts. I once saw a podcast host stick his hand inside his t-shirt, scratch his armpit… then smell his fingers! Eeeeewwwwww!
Yes, it may be “just” a podcast so no one is expecting you to adopt the delivery of a major television network news anchor, but you should strive to portray professionalism and propriety!