Everything I had to learn about Podcasting I generally learned from scratch. As I worked through my successes and failures with podcasting, I learned a few rules that, when followed, generally led to a successful podcast. I've always heard you are supposed to do a "top 10" for advice columns. I can't count that high. Here are eight:
1. Be comfortable with the sound of your voice. Few people like the sound of their voice. Not to worry, even if your fears were true (and you sounded like a wimpy version of Urkle) people would still listen if you had something interesting to say.
2. Podcasts can be too short or too long. The first podcast I did was a test and a little over a minute long. I got a lot of compliments for the content but every single reply also said it was, by far, the shortest they've heard. On the other hand, I've had many people complain that they've stopped listening to podcasts because they were "way too long." In general, keep podcasts over five minutes and a little less than twenty five minutes. This is the average attention span as well as the average commute to work for most people.
3. Keep the podcasts semi-focused. Certainly have fun but have something to say. If you are doing random thoughts, connect them through some sort of segue; this is what every great comedian and storyteller does.
4. Take the time to edit. Editing can greatly improve the quality of a podcast. By taking out the 'uhs' and 'dead spots' you can keep a comfortable pace for the listener. Editing also allows you to get rid of the background noises that may take away from the focus of the production.
5. Don't Rant. Anybody can pick up a microphone and complain for twenty minutes. If you make a habit of doing this, you will find yourself with a very limited audience. You can be critical, but your best bet is to be objective about it.
6. If you interview someone, know something about them. The worst interviews you will ever listen to are ones made from cookie cutter questions by an interviewer who has no idea who their guest is.
7. Make sure you have a layout. If you do interview someone, make sure you have a list of topics you can cover if need be. If you are going to do a monologue, have an idea of where it is going.
8. Use Inflections. The only person to make a fortune by speaking in pure monotone was Ben Stein, but even he needed a sidekick to break the monotony.