Whether you podcast alone or with others, presentation problems can hinder effective communication and slow your podcast growth. Here are some solutions to common presentation problems.
It's okay to say “um,” “like,” “ya know,” and other such fillers. But your presentation will drastically improve if you can reduce or completely remove these. Here are the three biggest ways to stop using these filler words.
- Be prepared. The more you have planned, prepared, and practiced, the more clearly and confidently you'll present.
- Don't slow down (or speed up). Speed is almost irrelevant in effective communication. Some people mess up more when they talk quickly, some mess up more when they talk slowly. Speak at the speed that is natural for you and fitting for your content.
- Pause. A pause … is one of the most powerful things in communication. A pause can create anticipation, allow for mental digestion, punctuate humor, and more. Pauses may not always occur where there would be punctuation, and vice versa.
Even the best presenters and conversationalists will sound horrible if they're distracted. The solution is more than “don't get distracted” (although that is the general idea)! Here are some tips for dealing with distractions.
- Focus when you need to. If it's time for you to speak, focus on what you're saying. This is not the time to try reading something else while you're trying to speak.
- Make times to be distracted. I think our brains need some distractions every now and then. So it's okay to have them, but allow them at only designated times. It's far easier to edit out awkward silences than to edit together a distracted presentation.
- Don't allow interruptions. If you have something to say, say it without interrupting yourself! This is especially important for live-streaming. Every comment in the chat room could not only be distracting but also an interruption. If you have guests or cohosts, learn how to not interrupt each other except when appropriate.
- Don't try to do too much. Multitasking is horrible for our brains and our tasks. If it's too distracting for you to manage a chat room and listen to your cohost, ignore the chat room! If you can't reasonably live-stream while recording your presentation, don't live-stream!
- Deal with, delegate, or dump. Some things can continue being distractions until we process them in some way. You might have to take a moment to deal with the distraction (such as a troll in your live show or an interrupting child), you might have to delegate the distraction to someone else (like running your mixer or camera), or you might have to dump the distraction altogether.
Conversations feel like they come to abrupt and awkward halt when you receive a short response. This could be from either a cohost or from an interviewee.
- Ask open-ended questions. Avoiding “yes or no” questions usually requires thinking, but it allows the other person to demonstrate their expertise and demonstrates your own ability to converse. For example, instead of asking, “Did you like the movie?” Ask, “What did you think of the movie?”
- Make the question shorter than the response. Don't waste words in building up a massive question. Not only can this be confusing for the other person, but it can also lead to an extremely short answer (or wasted words).
- Warm up before passing the conversation. Your other participant (a cohost or interviewee) may not know when you want them to speak. Ensure you don't surprise them with a sudden pass of the conversation to them. Body language is very helpful for this, if you can see it.
- Speak to encourage dialog. When you say everything that could be said on a matter, you close the conversation to extra input. Leave it open and leave some stuff unsaid so others can participate, too. This allows others to say more than an awkward, “yup.”
It's easy to waste words, especially when the conversation passes between people. Here are some tips to help you not waste words.
- Speak when you have something to add. When someone says something you like, it's easy to fall into repeating what they said as your form of agreement. But seek to add value to the content with each response.
- Think before you speak. A lot of words get wasted while you are trying to think of a response. It's better to have silence for you to gather your thoughts than to waste words until you figure out what you want to say.
- Don't try to fill the void. Silence can be uncomfortable (but it's the easiest thing to edit!), so we often fill the void with unnecessary words. If you said what you needed to, stop speaking!
- Learn to be concise. Not every answer needs a lengthy explanation. If you feel you have to summarize at the end of your explanation, maybe you could have skipped everything leading up to that summary and given only the summary.
- Learn to expound. Sometimes, you can be too concise by giving one-word responses. If you're answer is “yes,” explain it more.
- Avoid immediate summaries or recaps. I struggle with this, myself. I'll give a wordy explanation and then summarize immediately after. If you do this, too, something was unnecessary. Note that this is separate from reviewing (such as repeating previous points or referring back to the “headline”).
There are multiple contexts you need to include or make irrelevant with your podcast.
Your audience doesn't think like you or remember your content as well as you do. That sometimes results in their forgetting what you're talking about.
Imagine you removed the first portion from your presentation. Would others still know what you're talking about? Would the context still be obvious?
The other context you may be missing is your immediate context when you're recording the episode. It could be current events, recording date, or something you can see but your audience can't.
Here are some ways to ensure your audience doesn't forget your context.
- Repeat proper nouns. If you're talking about something specific, be specific! Avoid generic terms that assume your audience knows what you're talking about. For example, a movie-review episode should repeat the title of the movie throughout the discussion. This also helps for show notes.
- Repeat actionable information. If you're presenting any kind of call to action, including recommending resources, repeat the name of the item and where people can get it.
- Reset the context without a break. Podcasts are not radio and aren't consumed like radio. People usually don't jump into the middle of an episode without having heard the beginning at some point. Yes, their consumption may be split up across time (such as before and after work). Thus, it's important to reset the context to remind your audience what you're talking about. This doesn't have to be done with a cliché break like a radio show where you “go somewhere” and then “come back.” Weave your context reminders throughout your conversation. This may even mean momentarily shifting to address your audience and talk about the guest and then shifting back.
- Be timeless or specific. Although most podcast consumption happens within a couple days of download, a podcast is a time-shifted medium. You may be recording at night, but your audience may be listening at a different time. When possible, avoid time-based stuff that may be irrelevant in a few weeks or months. But if you must refer to time-based stuff, be specific by giving the exact date. Relative dates (such as “this Thursday”) can work is for regularly recurring events. Such as a weekly webinar that is always on the same day.
- Ignore video. One of the most frustrating things I hear from podcasts that host live-streaming video is when they refer to something the participants can see, but the majority of the audience (the podcast downloaders) can't see. The context is completely missing. If you want to refer to something visual, describe it for your audience without making them feel inferior for not being present to watch.
Thank you for the podcast reviews!
- Panda303 from the UK said, “Practical and addictive. I can't recommend this podcast enough; it's informative and has a lot of practical ideas, and is also really interesting to listen to. I'm currently in the development stage of my own podcast and I've gained so much advice and ideas from listening to this. Even if you know the information contained here, the podcast in itself sets an example on how to clearly present information. If you're a podcaster or just curious about podcasting, you will definitely enjoy listening.”
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