By Michael Kurland, founder and CEO of Branded Group. He launched his company in 2014 and transformed the facility management industry with his vision to #BeBetter.
A year ago, my public relations firm recommended that I do a podcast. My initial response was simple: No. I did not see the value in it or how it could help me grow or add value to my business. I’m here to tell you that both of these mindsets were wrong and their source was my own fear of failure.
As entrepreneurs, we are supposed to look fear in the face and kick it to the curb as taking risks and trying new things is part of our DNA. This is true when it comes to my business, but personal endeavors are a bit different. However, in order to be a leader, one has to step out of their comfort zone to try new things with an attitude of cautious optimism.
These five tips may be helpful for other entrepreneurs who are seeking to launch a podcast.
Know Before You Go
Prior to stepping into the podcast hosting seat — do your research. This includes understanding the technology, the preparation and what it means to be a gracious and humble interviewer. Listen to other podcasts to get a sense of topics, timing and technology. Make a note of what you like best and least about the shows so you can incorporate these practices into your program.
Next is to determine the theme of your show. What is the burning topic you want to share with your listeners? For some, it may be your business expertise or a “passion project.” Consider your target audience and what will encourage them to tune in. While this is an outdated term, keep the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) marketing model in mind as you ponder show topics and potential guests.
Be My Guest
It’s customary (and perfectly OK in my book) to launch your podcast with people you know as your initial guests. Tapping into friends and colleagues is completely acceptable in those early shows. First, you know them well and can easily converse with them. Second, they will want to see you succeed so are more likely to happily accept your invitation.
The key thing to remember with every guest is that they are the focus of the show — not you. As much as you may be tempted to share your story, it’s not about you. This is why it is important to select guests who can add value to your show by sharing their expertise or experiences, which will hopefully inspire change or growth to those listening. One thing that I have found helpful is to have pre-show calls where my guest and I can talk casually about the topics. This breaks the ice, and we both get a sense of how our live conversation will go. I highly recommend this practice for every guest.
Resolve To Evolve
Just like any new endeavor, there will be some bumps in the road when you first come out of the gate. Technology won’t cooperate, calendars get double-booked and shows go awry. I have found that listeners will be gracious as you navigate these small hiccups and streamline your operational processes. I had to change podcast producers and production processes a few times before we were able to get to the “set it and forget it” phase.
Additionally, as you become more comfortable in the driver’s seat, you will be able to change up your content. At first, I utilized a set of scripted questions that would be reviewed with each guest. Today, I’m able to let the conversations flow naturally. Additionally, with a few shows under your belt, you will be able to reach out to guests who are not in your Rolodex, but rather are well-known experts in the field of your show’s theme.
Listen To Understand, Not To Respond
An important part of being a successful podcast host is being a good listener. This requires you to put the focus on the guest, not yourself, so that their story takes center stage. When you are able to truly listen for understanding, then you will be able to interact with the guest more thoughtfully and ask pointed questions that will provide your listeners with valuable information.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you remain quiet. Remember, this is a conversation, not a monologue. Watching out for cues, especially if these are recorded over Zoom or other podcasting software, and taking notes can help you formulate meaningful questions or responses that will aid the conversation and drive home the messaging even more.
Add Value Not Empty Content
Another one of my hesitations in launching a podcast was that I didn’t want to simply push out more content without it having a purpose. This is why it’s critical for you to be clear on your show’s topic so that you can add value to the lives of your listeners. Just as you formulated the vision, mission and purpose of your business, you will want to do the same for your podcast.
Discovering your “why” for this project will enable you to develop shows that are content-rich and attract a loyal following. While your motivation for tackling this endeavor should not be to sell more widgets, a well-produced podcast can augment your brand, so be clear on your podcast’s purpose.
Like many entrepreneurs, our mindsets are to be change agents or disruptors. We’re not happy with the status quo; otherwise, we’d have stayed in our 9-to-5s. We like doing things differently. Whether it’s launching a podcast or offering a new service, preparation is key to success. With that knowledge, it’s important to understand that every step of the process will teach you something new that will hopefully inspire change in both yourself and others.