Developing a podcast is not as simple as the first idea that comes to mind. There are many steps to get a podcast that is valuable and engaging for the audience, and fulfills the goals you as the show owner have for it.
This is a general process we go through with new show production clients to develop a show that’s worthy of your time to make it and the listeners’ time to hear it.
Goal & Audience Definition:
Your team thinks through its goals, identifies audience, and comes up with a concept that would serve the audience. Those sound small, but they’re everything. All your later decisions will become clearer when you have the audience and goals within reach because you know what you want and what your audience wants from you.
Focus on goals and audience only at this point: leave the details for later like show names, format, and the host. Those will fit your show vastly better once you know who you’re talking to.
Word to the wise: your audience is NOT “everyone.” The narrower and tighter you can get about who will benefit from your subject matter, and why they are listening, the better and more relevant your show will be.
Coming up with a goal for your show and a clear image of your listeners will become the basis of the promise you deliver on to your audience.
We would facilitate a workshop/discussion with your team from the responses above to talk through your responses and take a good hard look at:
The show’s mechanics (ie., 2-hour long episodes or writing your own music or having 5 people on mic each episode is probably too much)
How often you can reasonably record
Refine the vision of your audience
Explore and deepen your topics
Discuss the merits of any hosts you may have in mind. We’ll ask things like:
are they are good on the mic?
Will they be embraced by the audience?
Do they have any community or social media or publishing following we can build on?
Will they be engaging with guests?
When are they available?
Workshopping means things you brought into the workshop will likely change so as we talk through it, so it’s important to not be overly-protective of ideas, and have the discipline to modify ideas to fit the new information we’ve uncovered.
Your team should identify one or two possible hosts. Hosts have the job of moving through the content so they have to be able to take direction and be reliable on multiple dimensions. They have to be strong enough and centered enough to push back on run-on guests when necessary, without being argumentative (unless that’s central to your format). They have to also be an ally for the listener.
When we did our Listener Survey in 2022 and asked why listeners listened to a podcast, they ranked the topic as the most important. They were interested, searched, and were motivated to listen.
When we asked listeners to rank the most important element in their favorite shows, they said the host was the most important. The podcast format is very intimate with listeners and the listener has a lot of choices. The listener is going to choose the host who both talks about the thing they’re interested in, and they feel the most affinity for and enjoy spending time with.
A smart person can talk about your topic. A credible and engaging host can keep listeners coming back for more of your show and help you fulfill your goals.
Think also about why is this host uniquely qualified to share this subject matter with these listeners. Bring that into the center of the show.
We would invite your intended hosts for a sound check.
If you intend to have two hosts, you’ll want a chemistry test on air between them. Listen to Gyi Tsakalakis and Conrad Saam on our Lunch Hour Legal Marketing podcast or Joe Patrice and Kathryn Rubino on Thinking Like a Lawyer for examples of good chemistry between hosts.
We’ll identify any areas needed for additional training like mic technique, and talk with them about interviewing skills or refine their delivery.
The specific guidance offered at this stage will depend on what they need as people and what the format of the show demands.
From the discussion, your team would identify possible topics and outline guests to go with those if you want to bring in guests.
If you want to end up with 12 episodes, recommend coming up with 30+ topic ideas to start with.
If you’ve thought of a topic, chances are high others who work in your field have also thought of it and written about it, so push on those ideas and see what new dimension you can add to the landscape or what new perspective you can bring to your specific audience.
Be really critical in asking yourself “has this been done before?”
Ideas are not so precious: you came up with these, so you can probably come up with some more. They also will get revised and modified so be flexible.
Now that you have your topics and hosts, have thought deeply about your audience, we can move to creating a Test Episode:
This is an 8-10 minute version of your intended format on a small scale topic with your hosts and a guest who is willing to play along. This usually doesn’t get aired.
We’d help you write the script (intros, outtros, transitions, closing, etc.), record, edit, and listen to it all together to offer constructive feedback.
Be prepared for the test to reveal some important holes and flaws. We’ve had these test episodes change the whole format and dynamic of a show once we put them together.
This test episode saves you money and heartache later. The idea of “we’ll try it and figure it out as we go along” is really expensive if your production isn’t meeting the goals you have for it.
After agreeing on what to keep and what to change in the show, we map out a schedule for recording the slate of episodes:
Naming and Imaging:
Somewhere in there we’ve come up with a show name and will develop artwork and marketing materials. The marketing plan depends deeply on your goal and where to find your targeted audience.
Once we have a show we’re happy with and can sustain together, agree on a budget, we’ll help you schedule your guests, record the episodes and distribute.
After they’re in the can, we should have a debrief/recap/planning session to decide where to go in the coming year based on what’s working.
Lisa, as Legal Talk Network's Director of Partnerships, is the bridge between show sponsors and the production team. She helps sponsors develop their message and choose the most effective shows for reaching their target audience. Lisa has consulted with clients in both digital marketing and traditional broadcast media, and loves podcasting because the medium celebrates creativity and makes room for diverse content. She loves driving fast and lives at Lake Tahoe with her family.