Whether a single podcast episode or a whole podcast series, there will be moments when something isn't going well. Here's how you can rescue your podcast.
These ideas will apply to your whole podcast (as a series) as well as the individual episodes. From now on, when I refer to your “podcast,” it could be just a single episode, or your overall show.
Step 1: Pause
If you feel like the podcast isn't going well, pressing on may not fix anything and could even make the problem worse. Take a little break.
Step 2: Review your goals
Don't jump straight into trying to solve the problem. Remind yourself of why you're podcasting in the first place. Are you podcasting to teach people something new? Do you want to inspire people? Do you want to make people laugh? Do you want to just have a good time with other like-minded people?
Step 3: Find the problem
Knowing why you're podcasting will help you to better find what the real problem is. If you want to help others, then see what's making your podcast irrelevant. If you want to entertain, then see what's bringing down the mood.
Don't stop with just surface-level issues. Dig down to the deeper reasons your podcast is having trouble and not meeting your goals.
Step 4: Don't give up
Uncovering the root problems could be discouraging. But this is what it will take to become truly great (however you want to define “greatness”).
Just because you have problems or you're not reaching your goals are not big enough reasons to quickly quit. Realize that this is just a little setback and you can overcome it!
Step 5: Figure out a solution
Resolving the problem could be easy or complicated. If you're in the middle of an episode that's not going well, you may need just a short-term fix. Maybe you just need to re-organize your notes, communicate with your cohost, or even do something physical that gets your blood flowing.
If you're facing this issue with your podcast as a whole, then you can still find some short-term fixes, but you need to focus on long-term solutions. This could mean planning further ahead, changing formats, adjusting your schedule, refocusing on your goals, setting new goals, or even retiring something.
Step 6: Resume or restart
When you fall off a bike, you'll never become a better rider if you stay on the ground. After you have done what you can to understand and resolve the issue, you have two choices: keep going, or start all over.
This is really up to you and how you feel about what you have already completed. If you're in the middle of an episode, you may have enough momentum to pick up and keep going. Or, you may decide to re-record the whole episode.
I have re-recorded several episodes of The Audacity to Podcast before (including my previous episode), and I was always glad that I did. The second take always flowed and communicated better, in my opinion.
If you're facing this with your podcast as a whole, it's a lot easier to improve with the next episode and resume your momentum. Starting over is often a bad practice. (Never start over just in attempts to get featured in iTunes' “New & Noteworthy” again.)
My wife and I recently watched It's About Time in which the main character has the ability to go back and relive any part of his life, but can make different decisions. It's a fun idea, but the character learns that each day shapes us into who we are and can make us better—even the bad days. This can be a good reminder to podcasters, too. We don't have to try hiding or redoing every “bad” episode in order to do things perfectly. But each episode is a step in our progress to become better podcasters.
What do you do when your podcast isn't going well?
I'd love to hear your stories of victory over a failure (of any size). Please comment to share how you have overcome a setback with your podcast.
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