Podcast Basics: What Should I Talk About?
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
I really enjoy smoothies.
My freshmen year of college I worked at a smoothie and juice shop for 8 months. Since then I’ve made a smoothie for myself close to every day. That’s a lot of smoothies (Some would say too many smoothies). In that time I’ve found a tumbler cup that I prefer to drink my smoothies from. I’m not sure what it is about that cup, but it’s better for drinking smoothies than every other cup I own. Something about it is just right.
That’s how you should choose your podcast topic. It should be just right for you. Not right for your audience (If you’re still picking a topic you don’t have an audience) or for your friends or family or professors or whoever else you could possibly dedicate time and energy towards pleasing. Your podcast needs to be right for you. So here's an exercise on how to decipher if a topic is right for you.
Exercise: Choosing your podcast topic
Materials Needed: Pen & Paper
Instructions: Write down your responses to the following prompts
1. Write down 5 hobbies/ interests that you dedicate a portion of each week to (movies, card games, DnD, etc...)
2. Choose one of those five hobbies/ interests that you have the strongest opinions on and circle it
3. Create two separate columns and title one "Positive Opinions" and the other "Negative Opinions"
4. Write down all of the opinions (Positive and negative) that you have on the subject
5. Choose two positive opinions that most strongly resonate with you and circle them
6. Choose two negative opinions that most strongly resonate with you and circle them
7. Write out these opinions on a graph as displayed below
This graph now makes up the parameters of your podcast's beliefs. Everything you discuss within an episode should fall within the graph. Why? Because those opinions are what differentiate you from everyone else. They are your bread and butter. People listen to podcasts for the individual (You).
8. Look for correlations between your positive and negative opinions that might make up a thesis or guiding principle.
9. Come up with 3 podcast premises and episodes for those premises based on that guiding principle.
Now here's an idea for a podcast and episode that I was able to pull out of the example graph above:
Guiding Principle: In an age of endless (Great) television shows to watch, it is the responsibility of each individual show to keep me engaged.
Podcast Concept: Cancelation Coming Soon - A weekly podcast where the co-hosts debate whether or not a current television show should be canceled.
Episode Example: Mindhunter, Season 2:
Episode Description: Mindhunter, season 2, struggles at points to keep my attention and I find myself losing interest ("Every episode needs to be subversive and engrossing"). Therefore, it's not demanding of my time when other, more interesting shows, are available ("I will quit a show if it doesn't maintain my attention at all times" & "Decent shows are made worse by how good other shows are"). My co-host and I discuss the merits of Mindhunter and whether the second season is worth watching.
Having strong opinions is the cornerstone of podcasting. It doesn't mean you have to be a jerk or inflammatory, but it is your responsibility to make your show engaging, and having strong opinions is a necessary starting point. Hopefully this exercise helps you find your strong opinions and topics worth you talking about.
For more articles, check back later in the month, and if you want to hear some of the podcasts I've produced and guess what my Positive Opinion #1 is, check out the podcasts I've made by clicking here.