What I’ve learnt from being on 50 podcasts in a year

Screenshot from the podcast page on www.shiageto.com

Do you remember the first Covid lockdown?

Doesn’t that seem ages ago?

The reason I ask though is that for many of us, that first lockdown represented a time that we took up multiple new hobbies and gave things a go. For many folk that might have been baking, or yoga, or coding, or pretty much anything.

I think the majority of folk will admit that those “new hobbies” quickly evaporated and are a thing of distant memory.

For me, one of those new hobbies (or time fillers as I like to call them) was setting up my own podcast.

As someone who had recently founded his own start-up not long before the first lockdown, I thought this would be an excellent way to not only keep me busy but promote my business and interview some fascinating people along the way.

Well, that dream lasted exactly 2 episodes…it was at that point I realised it was far too much effort to edit and produce an episode a week. My dreams of being a podcast host were left trailing in the dust…

Time for a change of strategy

Fast forward to a year later and one day I was chatting to a new acquaintance, a podcast host, when a brainwave hit:

[Yep, that is how my brain talks to myself]

And so it began; a mission to sign up for podcasts far and wide. I unashamedly signed up for everything…

So, how is that going?

If we leap forward another year, I have now been on quite a few podcasts. In fact in the last year alone I have been on approximately 50 (that’s about one a week).

Just this week, I recorded two more (one of which was my first LinkedIn and YouTube Live) and booked in another three, so the juggernaut continues but I thought it worth pausing and reflecting on six things I’ve learnt from a year of being a podcast guest.

What have I learnt?

  1. Some podcasts don’t take off — Although I have been on 50 podcasts, you won’t find 50 podcasts on Shiageto’s podcast page. This is because some keep the rights exclusively for their own use, some are still to be edited and also because a fair few never even make the light of day. In some cases this is because the host decided it was a bad episode [What! Are they crazy?] but more often then not it’s because their entire podcast concept gets pulled or never gets going. In fact, of the podcasts I have been on I estimate this to be 10–15%
  2. Most podcasts follow a very similar format — I’ve come to discover that there are two main types of podcast: a) the interview style; those where the host asks the guest a list of questions and spends the majority of time listening to them, and b) the conversation; in this format there is more of a back and forth dialogue between guest and host. By far and away more than 80% of podcasts I have been on are in the interview style
  3. Most podcast hosts are guys — I’m not sure if podcasting attracts men or it’s just that the podcasts I get invited onto are hosted by men but that seems to be my experience. If I was going even more out on a limb, I might even say that they are generally middle-aged white men [I think there may be a separate blog about that]
  4. Preparation is rare — It’s noticeable that very few podcasts have a prep call; many screen you to check that you are a suitable guest but after that the only communication you will get from them is the invite for the episode and sometimes that includes a written format so you can understand how it will run. On the rare occasion they have a prep call, to talk through the topics you will discuss, the style and to build a bit of rapport, then these generally go better
  5. 20–30 mins seems to be the sweet spot — I’ve been on podcasts that are 5 mins and ones that are 90 minutes; the ones that have had the most listens and the most positive feedback are the ones that are short but not too short (i.e. people like something to get stuck into without it being too indulgent)
  6. I have become obsessed by how I come across — nowadays, the majority of podcasts are simultaneously recorded for audio and visual (i.e. they will be uploaded to Spotify/Apple and YouTube). As I rigorously watch and listen back to every episode, I can’t help but be drawn to each of my foibles; be those vocal such as all the umms and errs I say or be they visual such as my lopsided facial features and shoulders or the occasional bouffant hairstyle

There are plenty of other takeaways that I have picked up but these are some of the major ones.

What’s my key takeaway?

After a year of podcasts, I definitely feel vindicated in my decision to switch from being a host to being a guest. Being a great host is an amazing skill (not to be taken for granted) and one I hope to come back to my hosting at some point in the future.

In the meantime, I very much look forward to continue being a guest on a variety of podcasts and shows (I’ve done a few radio spots too); I won’t ever take it for granted when I do get an invite and I will value the chance to sharpen my storytelling, my opportunity to promote my business and the joy of connecting with a wider audience.

If you haven’t try podcasting yet, I wholeheartedly encourage you to give it a go.

Faris

Faris is the CEO and Founder of Shiageto Consulting, an innovative consultancy that helps firms and individuals sharpen their effectiveness.

Success = IQ x EQ x FQ

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Faris Aranki

Strategist, Facilitator, Emotional Intelligence(ist) with a passion for sorting out the people issues that stop great ideas from being successfully delivered