Podcasting is all the rage these days. Did you know there are over 30 million podcast episodes on the airwaves (as of December 2019)? While technology has made it possible for just about anyone (with an internet connection) to start a podcast, not all of them are successful.
At first mention, you might think that podcasting is an extrovert’s game. Well, you are pretty much right about that! However, that doesn’t mean that introverts can’t be excellent podcasters – it just takes time.
If you’ve met me in person or have been on a call with me, you probably know I’m not the best talker in the world. Writing has always been my strong suit – I’ve struggled as a talker since I was a kid. In fact, I preface a lot of my client calls by telling those involved that “my brain tends to move faster than my mouth.”
Back in 2018, I started running E2M’s podcast, The Marketing Microscope. Prior to this, I had no experience in podcasting or radio whatsoever. I’ve always known that talking has never been my game, but instead of hiding from that reality, I wanted to change it!
Over the past few years, I’ve learned many lessons as an introvert in podcasting. In this post, I want to discuss them and how you can get your skin in the game – even though it definitely feels like an uphill battle.
Start A Podcast: The Basics
1. Picking a Niche
The first, foundational step of starting a podcast is nailing down a theme. What’s the general topic you will be discussing?
- Current events?
You can talk about whatever you want (go off on tangents, give some random tidbits, etc.) – but it’s best to keep a cohesive theme so people can easily identify what your podcast is about. If the theme isn’t clear, it will be tough to gain an audience.
2. Choose Your Podcasting Tools
Choosing equipment and programs for podcasting is a dense topic. You can spend thousands of dollars on top-of-the-line mics, soundboards, headphones, soundproofing, editing software, and creating the perfect studio to record your podcasts. Or, you can get the ball rolling for less than $100. It’s up to you.
The good news is there are plenty of resources to get you started.
For our purposes, let’s say you will simply be podcasting from your computer. You’ll need 4 things to get started:
- A mic
- Studio headphones
- A podcasting program
- Sound editing software
First and foremost, you need to invest in a decent mic. This is the most important piece of the puzzle. Your voice needs to come through crisp and distinct. Listeners can tell in a second if you’re using a cheapo mic. Samsung, Fifine, and Blue Yeti are solid podcasting microphone brands to get you started.
Additionally, you might consider getting a pop screen or windscreen to supplement your mic – if you don’t have a soundproof room.
This will help to reduce background noise and pops.
In addition to your mic, you’ll need a nice pair of studio headphones, preferably noise-canceling ones. There are plenty of options to choose from. Personally, I’ve had pretty good luck using my Beats by Dre that I bought back in 2014.
Next, you’ll need a program to record your podcasts. If you plan on having guests, you’ll want to consider one that allows remote podcasting. For the Marketing Microscope, we use Zencast. This allows you to create an episode, then send a link to the guest to join/record. It’s super easy and only costs like $10/month.
Zencast saves all the sound files in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally losing an episode.
Lastly, you’re going to want a tool to edit your sound files. Maybe you want to add an intermission, intro/outro music, a filter, or simply edit out any awkwardness. There are all sorts of tools at your disposal for this. For starters, I would recommend Audacity – it’s a free sound editing software that will do everything you need.
So there you have it – the podcaster’s starter pack!
As time goes on and you get more serious about podcasting, you can upgrade your equipment.
3. Accept that the Process Takes Time
Ok, getting back into the prospect of actual podcasting.
This is a big one you’ll need to come to terms with when you start a podcast. Truth be told, the first few episodes are more than likely going to be rough. Podcasting isn’t something many introverts are naturally good at.
The beginning phase of running a podcast is where many tend to get discouraged. You’re nervous, not fully used to being recorded, and terrified to slip up. Don’t worry – this is totally normal!
If you listen to some of my earlier podcast episodes, it’s clear that I’m super uptight – I’m rambling, stumbling over my words, and seriously struggling to focus on the conversation. I cringe looking back at those eps!
The first step to launching a podcast is to get comfortable talking on the mic. Again, this takes time. The good news is you can start slow – you don’t have to have a guest immediately. Practice giving solo lectures.
The goal is to develop the fundamental skills necessary to be a good podcast host. These include:
- Speaking clearly
- Talking slowly (you might be speaking faster than you think!)
- Developing a distinct “podcast voice”
- Getting complacent with speaking on-air
4. BREATHE! (But Not Into The Mic)
This one may sound obvious on the surface but DEFINITELY needs to be mentioned as one of the top podcasting tips. Breathing during podcast recordings is something I unknowingly struggled with early on. As an introvert, it’s easy to get caught up in the prospect of speaking that you forget to breathe normally.
Steady breathing is the key to managing your nerves on air. Trust me.
When you’re not taking solid breaths, people will hear it in your voice. In my experience, poor breathing resulted in fast-talking, stumbling over my words, and in some cases, stuttering.
Plain and simple, you need to learn how to regulate your breathing.
- Sit up straight
- Take deeper breaths
- Stay aware of your breathing patterns
Just be careful not to breathe too deep into the mic. Your listeners don’t want to hear loud panting during the show!
5. Learn How to Project Your Voice
Projecting your voice is THE most important part of being a podcast host.
As an introvert, projecting your voice in conversation might not be something you’re fully used to. Learn to speak from the gut, not the throat. If you ever taken singing lessons or can remember back to music class in grade school, this is where it will come in handy!
To echo the previous section, projecting your voice and breathing go hand-in-hand. You’ll need to sit up straight, take deep breaths, and remain calm and collected. Failing to project your voice will crush your podcast quicker than anything else. The playback will make this very clear – trust me!
6. Figure Out Smooth Transitions
Good transitions are a key aspect of podcasting – that oftentimes gets overlooked. A lot of this is going to come down to prior planning. If you will be bringing guests onto the podcast, you need to develop a cohesive line of questioning in which one topic bridges naturally into the other.
For example, say you have an SEO expert on your podcast to talk about voice search.
The first set of questioning can talk about the rising importance of voice search and how people are using it to interact with Google. From here, you should transition the conversation to conducting research for optimization. Then, you can shift the focus to content creation for voice.
So, the basic outline of the podcast would be:
- Trends in voice search
- How to conduct proper research
- How to create voice-optimized content
Unless you want to be one of those podcasts that’s mostly rambling and banter (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), you need to develop a game plan for each episode in which the transitions in the conversation come naturally.
7. Get Comfortable Going Off Script
If you’re like me, you’re an introvert with a massive fear of sounding stupid. As a result, going off script in a podcast might sound like a death sentence. Many podcast novices have this mindset that they need to develop a script for every single word of the podcast. This is simply not true.
Look at some of the most popular podcasts/radio shows:
- The Shrink Next Door
- Crime Junkie
- The Joe Rogan Experience
- The Howard Stern Show
- Car Talk
Do you think these hosts are reading off of a script word-for-word? Definitely not!
People are drawn to podcasts for the hosts’ personality, voice, and their ability to carry a conversation naturally. It’s EXTREMELY easy to tell when someone is reading from a script versus speaking on the fly – and it sounds very robotic and manufactured.
The best way to start a podcast is to get comfortable speaking off the cuff. Now, getting comfortable speaking on the fly as an introvert is no easy task – it’s just something that comes with time. The key is not to get caught up in the fact that you’re recording a podcast. At the end of the day, it’s just a friendly conversation.
1. Research Topical Trends
Regardless of what your podcast is about, understanding what is trending in the field is going to be the driving force behind it. Just like in SEO and content creation, your ability to attract interested listeners relies heavily on your ability to understand what’s trending and how you can provide an expert take. This goes for ALL podcasts – not just ones run by introverts!
This should go without saying –be sure you’re keeping a close eye on trending news in the industry.
- Stay in-tune with the major blogs and publications
- Get a feel for the general sentiment towards a certain topic
- Learn the major insights people are sharing
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Controversy
“Fortune favors the bold.”
Some of the most popular podcasts in the world are built around controversy.
This one can definitely be intimidating as an introvert. Podcasting is a provocative art. The harsh truth of the matter is that controversy turns heads! Sometimes, giving your unpopular opinion is the key to riling people up (and getting listeners).
Now, before I go any further, I want to make it perfectly clear that approaching controversy is not child’s play – in any sense of the word. There is an EXTREMELY small margin for error.
Regardless of the controversial topic, you need to establish a firm rationale behind your opinion – and one that doesn’t go against widely accepted truths (like the Earth being round).
For example, say you want to make the claim that “the pharmaceutical companies are responsible for the opioid crisis in the United States”.
You need to be able to back up your argument.
- Why do you feel this way?
- What’s your proof for this?
- What sources are you pulling from?
- Do you have any quotes from credible figures in the medical industry?
In addition to supporting your controversial argument, you should be aware of the potential rebuttals.
- Why would people disagree with you?
- What are the main motivators behind their opinion?
- How can you address these within your podcast?
Approaching controversy in podcasts must be done very strategically. Always remember, there’s a huge difference between having a respectable opinion and just being loud for the sake of gaining attention.
3. Add Something New
Podcasting is all about getting out of your comfort zone and adding something thought-provoking to your space.
Success in podcasting is all about fresh takes, interesting viewpoints, and new insight. The underlying purpose of a podcast is to get people thinking.
Adding something new requires you to get out of your comfort zone a bit. If you’re an introvert like me, getting out of your comfort zone is sometimes (usually) a struggle. Hate to break it to you, but this is the catalyst for a good podcast.
As you plan out the topic(s) of discussion for each podcast, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my main message here?
- How has this message been addressed before?
- Am I offering a fresh take on the topic?
There are so many podcasts, blogs, video channels, and commentary outlets that simply regurgitate information and don’t move the conversation forward. Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or not, your podcast should add something new to the mix.
1. Have A Solid Plan Before You Outreach
Getting guests is the never-ending process of running a successful podcast. As an introvert, approaching guests can be intimidating – especially if you’re trying to lock down a big name in the industry.
Now, enticing people to come on your podcast is all about first impressions.
You can’t just find someone’s contact information and shoot them an email saying:
I run a podcast on marketing. Want to be my guest?
You need to have a plan in place long before you reach out to a potential guest.
- What topic do you want to cover?
- Why is this potential guest an ideal person to talk about this topic?
- What types of questions do you plan to ask them?
- How long do you imagine the podcast will take?
- What does the guest gain from being on your podcast?
When you conduct outreach, your plan needs to be extremely clear. People love to chat about their forte. If you can trigger this in your outreach, getting guests is going to be much, much easier.
For example, say you run a podcast that talks about hidden gem restaurants in cities across the world. You want to bring in an expert to talk about the best pizza places in Chicago. Your goal is to get a popular food blogger to chat about their recommendations.
Let’s say you want to bring in Albert Grande – operator of the popular blog, Pizza Therapy.
You need a solid plan to present to him.
Here’s what an outreach email might look like.
I’m a big fan of your blog, Pizza Therapy! I recently read your post on Chicago deep-dish pizza. I’m actually hoping to do one of the tours you recommended next summer!
Anyway, my name is Kevin, I run a podcast titled Food Jabber (just made that up). I am planning to do an episode on the best deep dish pizza joints in Chicago. It would be an honor to have you on as a guest. I think our mutual love for pizza would make a killer episode!
In return, you would get a link to your website in the write-up and would be promoted to my audience of X listeners per month.
Let me know if you would be up for this!
Now, you don’t have to get SUPER in-depth with your plans on the initial outreach. It just needs to be very clear that you have a good direction for the show and it’s something the guest would be psyched to talk about.
2. Leverage Your Network
This should be the first place you start in the process of getting guests. Obviously, people you know are going to be more open to talking with you in the early days of your podcast. Once you have a topic in mind and a sense for the direction of the episode, browse through your contacts on LinkedIn or your address book to find someone that might be a suitable guest.
In addition to LinkedIn, Facebook can be a goldmine to find guests. When I first started The Marketing Microscope, Facebook Groups were my primary source of finding people to chat with.
I have found a plethora of amazing guests/people through Groups about copywriting, content creation, marketing, etc.
Regardless of what your podcast is about, you can almost certainly find interested people through relevant Facebook Groups.
Your network is a huge asset in the early days of your podcast! At the end of the day, podcasting is a fantastic way to network with people and get to know them better.
3. Don’t Be Shy
Ok, so as an introvert, having people tell you not to be shy can seem like telling water not to be wet. Approaching new guests is intimidating, there’s no way around it.
But podcasting is all about breaking out of your introvert comfort zone!
Once you have a few episodes published, reach for the stars with potential guests! I mean, why not? As long as you have a general plan for the podcast and your outreach message is properly crafted, there shouldn’t be anything to fear in your outreach.
Worst case scenario, they say no – and you both move on with your days. Honestly, if a guest isn’t interested in being on your podcast, they probably won’t even respond.
We’ve been amazingly fortunate with The Marketing Microscope.
With some good preparation and fearless outreach, we’ve managed to get a bunch of heavy hitter guests, including Neil Patel (one of the biggest names in digital marketing), Rand Fishkin (founder of Moz), Dr. Pete Meyers (Marketing Scientist from Moz), Brian Dean (Founder of Backlinko), among others.
Asking people to be on your podcast can definitely feel a little awkward, but don’t let it hold you back from making your content the best it can be!
Perfecting Your Craft
Perfecting the art of podcasting is a process that never truly ends.
To quote the great Vince Lombardi:
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence”
Starting a podcast isn’t easy, even for the most extroverted hosts. Comfort speaking into a mic comes with time. The most important thing is that you’re improving with every single episode. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
1. Be Critical of Your Past Performances
Before I dive into this one, just know that NO ONE likes hearing the sound of their recorded voice! As a podcast host, you don’t have to love your recorded voice, but you’ll need to get comfortable with it. Try and use that dislike of your own voice as a weapon. Be extremely critical of how you sound.
- Are you using lots of “ums” and “uhs”?
- Are you fumbling over your words?
- Are you talking too fast?
- Do you sound relaxed?
- Are you adding in too many unnecessary words?
- Are you speaking from the gut or the throat?
- Are you breathing enough?
I know, this all sounds super petty. But each of these factors can have a big impact on the overall quality of the show.
Listen to each of your episodes thoroughly and make a list of what you like and dislike about your performances. Then, make a prioritized list of what you need to improve upon and be mindful of it for the next show!
2. Don’t Get Discouraged by a Bad Episode
This is a big one. If you’re anything like me, a bad show can crush your confidence. Having an episode go south is a terrible feeling. Just remember, every radio/podcast host experiences a dud from time-to-time – even after years of doing it.
As a podcast host, you are the leader. A good leader takes a setback as a lesson and pops right back up – stronger and smarter than before.
In some cases, the circumstances alone might put you at a disadvantage; you need to take the results with a grain of salt and develop a plan for it in the future.
I once ran a podcast with a big-name guest I was super pumped to speak with. Unfortunately, the only time he was available for the podcast was 9am on a Monday – no one is happy at 9am on a Monday!
I had spent hours coming up with questions(that I thought were pretty awesome). However, I was getting super short – almost meaningless – answers. It was pretty clear the guest wasn’t stoked to be doing a podcast first thing on Monday. I think most of us can empathize with that!
I was definitely bummed afterward, but the most important thing was to view the episode as a lesson with clear takeaways.
- DON’T DO A PODCAST AT 9AM ON A MONDAY!
- If the guest gives short answers, don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions.
- “Would you mind elaborating on that?”
- “So, let’s give a real-life example here…”
- “Let me paint a scenario for you…”
- Share more of your own insight and ask the guest for their input on it.
As introverts, we have a tendency to retreat into our shells if a social interaction goes down the tubes. This is something you will have to face when podcasting – sooner or later. Keep your head up!
3. Take as Many Opportunities as You Can!
Getting good at podcasting is something that comes with time – which is pretty much the common theme in this article. There really isn’t a way around it.
As an introvert, this process is probably going to take a bit longer. Consistency is huge here. If you have long breaks between recording podcasts, you’re going to get rusty.
Try to take on as many podcasting opportunities as you can. Network with other podcasters and see if they’d be open to letting you be a guest on their show. Look into local radio stations and see if there are any opportunities to speak on a niche segment. In addition to improving your mic skills, these are great ways to promote your own podcast!
Personally, to get more practice, I got involved with the American Marketing Association’s San Diego chapter to be a co-host of their radio show called This Week in Marketing. Hosting this and The Marketing Microscope has played a HUGE role in improving my mic skills.
The key is to just get yourself out there. Sure, you might embarrass yourself from time-to-time, but don’t sweat it! Every great radio/podcast host, comedian, public speaker, etc. has been in a similar situation. Like anything else, the more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll get.
Over to You
Always remember: Podcasting is all about confidence. This is one of the biggest tips for podcasting I can give you.
You are the engine driving the show. You set the tone. Your mindset and demeanor flow throughout the episode.
Podcasting is tough – especially if you identify as an introvert. But it’s definitely not impossible. The key is persistence – you can’t expect to knock it out of the park on your first go.
Just remember to have a solid game plan before you reach out to guests, speak from the gut, and most importantly, breathe! If you can get these three things down, things will get easier and easier!