I am a podcaster, producer, and musician, here to assist you on every step of your creative venture.
So you have an idea for your podcast. Now, how do you actually turn that idea into a good product?
Moving from a good idea to a great podcast
When I first got into podcasting, I found dozens of really helpful tutorials about microphones, editing, and hosting services, but no one was talking about how to actually create a compelling podcast episode or make a sustainable plan to keep your podcast moving after your initial motivation has waned. Sure, some people are so dynamic and charismatic that they can just joke around at a microphone for an hour and call it a day, but for most people, that gets old fast. I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years, and I want to help you to avoid them. I’ve also included a free planning template that you can use to get started.
Now, let’s get into the various sections of that template and how they can help you to plan your podcast and create the most compelling episodes possible. For the sake of this tutorial, we are going to create a hypothetical podcast about bad movies called, “Rotten Potatoes”.
The Existential Funnel
Let’s imagine that your episode is a funnel. At the top, the funnel is wide and unfocused. This is your broad topic. In this episode, our broad topic is the movie, “Batman & Robin (1997)”. You could spent hours talking about the ridiculous plot, cheesy lines, and the nipples on Batman’s costume, but you are trying to craft an interesting narrative, so we need to move down the funnel to the narrow topic.
How do we narrow the topic down? How do we pick what area to focus on? Well, that is why this is called the “existential funnel”.
The author, speaker, and podcaster Rob Bell often talks about the “existential urgency” behind any communication. What do you need to say about this? What is your connection to the topic? Where does it intersect with your experience, passion, or purpose? Audiences are drawn to storytellers who have a personal connection to the topic, and they can instantly tell when it’s forced. In our case, we’re creating a comedy podcast about bad movies, so we don’t have to think too deeply about how this episode will change the world. We just need to find the place where it touches our lives. Personally, I saw this movie on VHS when I was 12 years old, and then spent the next year begging my parents for every toy that came out afterwards. I couldn’t care less about how absurd it was. I just wanted that freeze ray!
So let’s follow our personal connection and narrow our focus on the ridiculous characters.
Now that we know our broad topic, narrow topic, and personal connection, let’s do some research.
This part is easy now that we know the specifics of the episode. Find 2-3 articles on the internet that flesh out our narrow topic. Prioritize funny or surprising stories over simple facts. Make sure that when you are Googling your topic, you add words like “story”, “funny” or “unexpected” to the search terms. That will prioritize the sorts of things that people want to hear. For example, Chris O’Donnell’s mask was literally glued to his face and caused awful rashes that had to be fixed with tons of makeup for the non-masked scenes. Or how the bat-suit nipples were supposed to mimic a Greek sculpture and add an air of sophistication to the character. The director has apologized for years and claims that they will likely end up on his tombstone. Copy and paste those links into your spreadsheet so you don’t lose them and you can easily add them to your show notes.
So, now we have narrowed our topic, found our personal connection, and collected our research. It’s time to actually put our episode together!
What? So What? Now What?
In addition to podcasting, I’ve been a preacher for almost a decade, and I have found that the most simple and effective way to organize a talk is to follow these three questions…
What? So what? Now what?
Tell them what it is, tell them why it matters, and tell them what to do with it.
I would recommend starting the first section with a story. Everyone loves stories, and it’s the best way to engage the audience’s attention. If you can keep your listener for the first 5 minutes, they are far more likely to finish the episode. So let’s start the episode with a funny story about being obsessed with the over-the-top cheesy villains, and let that be the intro that leads us into the main content of the episode.
Then, we take some time to explain why it matters. We might use this section to talk about how the 90’s were a weird time for superhero movies that vacillated between overly serious and absurdly corny. It was like the awkward teen years of comic book movies, and in many ways, paved the way for our modern obsession with superheroes.
For our “now what” section, we’re going to encourage people to rent the movie and watch it with special attention towards a few points which you brought up. Then, ask them to share their own favorite parts on your social media page to keep the conversation going. A more serious podcast will likely have a more serious call to action, but we’re just having fun with bad movies, and building a community of people who like having fun together.
What – Tell them stories about the ridiculous characters of the movie.
So what – Talk about the awkward superhero era, and how it paved the way for the Dark Knight Trilogy.
Now what – Go watch the movie and let’s keep the conversation going!
Let’s wrap it all up with a quick summary.
- Determine your broad topic
- Find your personal connection to the topic.
- Use that connection to find your narrow topic.
- Research that narrow topic, prioritizing funny or interesting stories over simple facts.
- Organize your episode.
- Tell them the stories.
- Tell them why it matters.
- Tell them what to do next.
That’s it! If you follow these simple guidelines, your podcast will be more interesting and compelling than 90% of the stuff out there. Most amateur podcasters just pick a topic and “wing it” each week, but with just a few simple steps, you can make something that you are consistently proud of. Also, with this simple spreadsheet, you can easily plan multiple episodes at a time so you can maintain your momentum even when life throws you a curveball and you lose your motivation to create.
I hope this article was helpful. If you’re ready to start your own podcast, but feeling overwhelmed by the thousands of microphones and interfaces, check out my simple guide here…
If you would like a free personal consultation, please contact me at email@example.com. I am also available for editing services and continued support. Click on the link below to book editing and publishing services.