Toastmasters Level 4 Project: Create a Podcast

Level 4 Create a Podcast Toastmasters 101

Does the Level 4 Create a Podcast intimidate you?

Did you ever get a two-fer?

Like being in college and writing the same paper for 2 classes. Or discovering that you have a vacation day and being given an extension because the office is closed.

I hear people say they don’t have any ideas about speech topics. They can’t think of anything to talk about.

I think it’s simple: if you’re doing something in your life, you can talk about that. I’ve listened to dozens of professional speeches in Toastmasters and I never mind it. I enjoy learning about other people’s jobs. Surveying streets for new sewer lines? I’ve heard it. How to do renovations – which might have been better called “how not to do renovations” – I loved it. How to open your own business, how to close your business, how to… how to anything fascinates me.

Level 4 Create a Podcast

Which brings me to today’s podcast:

This is a two-fer.

I was asked to give a presentation at one of District 10’s officer training sessions and apparently, the Level 4 Create a Podcast Project is on people’s minds.
As I was writing that presentation, it occurred to me: this is a two-fer. I haven’t talked about podcasting on the podcast, but as a podcaster, I have experience that I can share.

So I can do both with one presentation. I WIN!

Today on Toastmasters 101, we talk about the Level 4 Create a Podcast, and a few thoughts I have.

INTRO

Are you interested in spreading your message to the world? Do you need to develop the skills to do it well and make an impact? Then Toastmasters is for you. In an hour a week, you can learn public speaking and leadership skills together, and have fun while you do it. This is Toastmasters 101, and I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

Podcasting Equipment Fried

You might have noticed that I’ve missed several episodes of the podcast. That’s because on Christmas Day, my power went out 4 times in about 5 minutes, and it fried some equipment that I use in podcasting.

School of Podcasting Recommendations

A friend of mine, Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting – schoolofpodcasting.com – loaned me some equipment to tide me over when my pusher – I mean the company I buy my equipment from – said the supplier was predicting a ship date to Sweetwater.com was moving further and further out.
So let me start this by saying a huge thank you to THE Dave Jackson, who has been my mentor in podcasting since I started and I recommend his podcast to you.

Why am I starting the podcast with a thank you?

Because Dave helps people understand that podcasting isn’t just about monetiziation. For most of us, podcasting is a hobby.

How to Start Your Level 4 Create a Podcast Project

That’s why I don’t start with what equipment do you need, what software do you need, what platform should you be on. That’s Step 2, or maybe even Step 7.

You must start with your topic, who you want to get your message to – who’s your audience – and how much you are willing to commit to the project.

I just went through the Level 4 Create a Podcast training on Pathways. It took me about 15 minutes.
Granted, I do know this field, so it didn’t take me long to process the lessons. But there’s a lot NOT said in that training and I want you to be prepared for that.

What you need to know

Mechanics

First, Toastmasters very wisely does not tell you the mechanics of podcasting. This is very smart because the equipment you might use to create a podcast today might not be the equipment you need in the future. It may not even be available anymore!
Learning about the current best practices of podcasting and the equipment you need is a key component to having a successful podcasting experience. Which makes Toastmasters smart – it doesn’t have to try to keep up with the field and encourages you to find out what you need outside of Toastmasters. But it doesn’t give you much guidance where to look.

Training

There are some big names in podcasting who offer courses in how to get started. One of them offers a $2000 start up program and expects you to buy over $1500 in equipment that they recommend. You will see all sorts of recommendations for this class on the Internet… but the last time that coach taught it was 4 years ago.

If you take away NOTHING else from this podcast, let it be this: you do not – you should not – spend thousands of dollars on this project. You should expect to spend some money, and I’ll talk about that – but it’s an example of the problem in researching podcasting.

There are some big names who were in podcasting years ago, before it got famous, and due to the power of great social marketing, those links are still at the top of the Google search engine rankings. But their classes, videos, or recommendations are years out of date.

This is why I recommend Dave Jackson at the School of Podcasting. He has been in the podcasting field for over a decade – practically since podcasting started. He’s taught hundreds, if not thousands of people how to start, build, and grow their podcasts. And he’s still doing it, which is more than many of those older podcast coaches can say.

You don’t have to buy Dave’s classes. You can go back and listen to his podcasts for free. You’ll get a lot of great information for free from those episodes. You can search for podcasts specific to your topic or your need and get informed without paying a penny. If you decide you want to join the School of Podcasting, tell him Kim from Toastmasters sent you.

Pick Your Topic FIRST

The first thing Dave or I will tell you is this: podcast about a topic that you’re passionate about. I don’t want to criticize the TI project training, but they suggest you do a podcast about Toastmasters.
I suspect that there’s something else in your life that you’re more passionate about. Something you’re experienced in. Something that you love.

That’s what you should podcast about. And I’m not saying that because I don’t want the competition. I want you to have a great experience in podcasting and you’ll have more fun if you’re working on a topic that fascinates you.  Because that will come through in your podcast.

Your Format

Once you decide on your topic, it does tend to help you decide on the format. The TI training does give you three types of potential podcasts. I’d say that’s a pretty small box. There are far more types of podcasts than three categories.

The training does tend toward producing what I call the NPR format.  Are you familiar with NPR – National Public Radio in the United States – and its sound?

I listened to that type of radio for decades. It has had a powerful effect on radio – the power of telling stories, to use audio to engage the listeners’ imaginations, to make the audio experience stick inside our heads, sometimes for years. They call it the driveway moment, that time back in the day when you didn’t have a pause button on the radio, so you stayed in your car till the end of the segment because you could. Not. Leave.

The NPR impact on podcasting is wide – and hard to resist. But don’t let it be the wall that stops you from podcasting. This American Life, a former radio program, has a staff of over 10 people working behind the scenes to create an episode. This is going to be you. I’m not asking you to lower your standards: I’m asking you to ignore NPR.

You can do it. I know, you want to sound like Serial, or This American Life, or whatever other program you want. But that is the curse – do not try to sound like someone else!

Your Voice

Here’s another secret: almost everyone hates the sound of their voice in recordings. That’s because you hear your voice differently inside your head – bones, ear canal, jaw – how you hear your voice as you speak is not the same. You’ll get used to how you sound in recordings, but take it from me, unless people hang up on you on the phone because your voice is so horrible – you don’t sound bad. You just sound different from what you expect.

That voice – and what you have to share with the world – are uniquely yours. Don’t try to copy NPR, Adam Curry, Joe Rogan, or even me! Your podcast is a product of your work – and let’s emphasize that part: it’s your work. It’s not you.

Make the format work for you

Pick the format that works for you. The TI training does mention breaking into sections or episodes in order to record the entire hour’s worth of content. That’s one of the beauties of podcasting: you don’t have record everything in one session!

Equipment for Level 4 Create a Podcast

Microphones

Now, you’ve decided your topic, and your format, it’s time to talk equipment. Your format will dictate your equipment. I always recommend a certain microphone, but if you’re doing a storytelling podcast with multiple participants, you’re going to need extra equipment beyond just the mic.
I will say: buy a microphone. IN the show notes, I’ve linked to the microphone I use the most: the Samson Q2U. This is not an affiliate link.

You’re going to say to me: I have a microphone on my laptop. Why can’t I just use that?

Because… and forgive me… It’s a crappy microphone and when it’s time to edit your program, you’re gonna hate your voice even more.

Look, you can pound a nail with your shoe. That doesn’t make it a good hammer.

Invest the money into the microphone. If you decide you don’t ever want to do it again, find another Toastmaster who wants to do this project and make a deal with them. But buy the mic.

This Samson microphone has two options for you: one to plug directly into your computer. The other allows you to go through a sound system that uses XLR cords. If you’re not a musician or recording multiple sound tracks, the XLR isn’t necessary. I plugged my Samson mic directly into the computer and it was fine.

Headphones

The other piece of equipment you need is a headset.
I don’t recommend you get a headset with a mic in it like a gamer headset. I sound like an obscene phone caller, heavy breathing into the phone, when I use my headset mic and record it. But headphones, especially if you’re doing interviews, is critical. You’ll need them when you do your editing, but wear them when you’re recording. It makes a difference.

Recording and Editing Software

You will also need software for your recording process. Here, I recommend Audacity, which again, the link is in the show notes. It works on both PC and Apple platforms. It’s a free sound recording and editing program. I know professional editors who use it. I’ve tried a couple of other programs and keep coming back to it. It’s simple to use, and easy to edit with.

Yes, edit.
But I wanna keep it real, Kim!

I hear you saying that.

3 Guys One Brain

One of the categories that TI didn’t mention is what we in the podcasting world call the “one brain, three guys” podcast. These podcasts are generally done by a group of guys around one microphone and a pitcher of something to drink. They sit around and shoot the breeze about whatever it is they’re talking about: football, or video games, or video games about football.

They don’t edit.

Don’t be like the one brain, three guys people. Editing is your friend. Editing is the way to lift that speech you gave to become the speech you wish you’d given.
IT IS NOT HARD.

The Value of Editing

That’s not to say that learning the editing software won’t take you time. It will. The general ratio of final production to editing time is 4 to 1. Four minutes of production time to 1 minute of final podcast for the listeners to hear – and that’s with experience. My first podcast back in 2014 took at least 10 hours. It was a 15-minute podcast episode.

I hope your production to editing ratio is better than mine. Back then, I didn’t have access to resources on YouTube that we have today. There are probably hundreds of Audacity training videos online now. I will caution you: make sure the video you’re watching matches the version of your editing software. Whether you’re using GarageBand on Apple, or Adobe Audition or Audacity – you need the current videos!

Editing does take time.

I won’t lie about that. But you will reap incredible returns because this is your chance to evaluate yourself.

I have an addiction to the word “amazing.”
No evaluator in a meeting is going to pick up on that. But I realized it because I was editing my podcast and heard that word over and over and over. It was amazing how often I used – and misused – that word. Ok, not amazing. But certainly, editing showed me weaknesses in my public speaking.

Wrap it up

I like this podcast project in Level 4. If I can help you, please reach out to me on the Toastmasters 101 Facebook page, but don’t be surprised if I tell you to go to a School of Podcasting episode to get the best information. I only refer to the best.

This was a great two-fer! A podcast and a training session all rolled into one. I should give a speech about the power of two-fers and make it a three-peat!

Links to all the materials I recommend are in these show notes.

Thanks to District 10 for supporting Toastmasters 101. We’re coming up on our second anniversary in a few weeks. Maybe I should do something to celebrate? I dunno. What do you think?

Our music is from Incompetech.filmmusic.io.

Thanks to you, my listeners, also. I know it’s been a while since I posted and you’re still here!
We’ll talk again on the next episode of Toastmasters 101.