Will Time Change Your Podcast?
Time, perhaps, is our most precious resource as podcasters. What would you change about your show if you had unlimited time to spend on it, rather than being rushed each episode? Before you think it too crazy, give it a shot. At least in your mind.
I am very good at procrastinating. The silver lining is that I have become very good at working under time constraints. Time constraints for getting shit done, as well as time constraints on presenting my work. I love the artificial time constraints of an Ignite-style presentation (I’ve given seven). My social network of choice is Twitter, a service that limits the number of characters available for each update. And I love the less-than-10-minute artificial time constraint I’ve placed on the episodes of Podcast Pontifications.
Here's what I know about time: Doing things well and right takes time. Want to write a novel? Cool. First, you have to bang out 60,000 words (at a minimum). At 1000 words a day, you’ll be done with that part in two months. But you’re not done when you stop writing. You’ve only just begun.
But let’s bring this back to podcasting.
All podcasts can be placed into two buckets:
- The “record and release” where the host(s) sit down behind the microphone, crank out the recording of an episode, do a modest (if any) bit of post-production, and drop the episode in the feed.
- The much more deliberate podcast, where the host(s and sometimes producers) invest a significant amount of time in, from prep and planning, to editing, to publishing and distribution.
Of course, each of these buckets has its own spectrum. And it’s worth noting that not everyone with a podcast gets to choose which bucket they belong to. Time isn’t a luxury for everyone. I get that.
But take consider what would/could happen if you had more time to spend on your podcast. And by more time to spend, I don't mean more time editing/engineering your episodes. Sure, that's one facet where you might need to spend more time to boost the audio quality. But engineering is only a piece of the process of podcasting.
To really examine the possibilities, imagine you had unlimited time to spend on the entire process of podcasting. Coming up with your concept for a given episode. Deeply researching your guests(if you have guests). All the time in the world to spend on the editorial process, where you could rearrange the audio you’ve collected in such a way to really make the story come to life/ robust and compelling story. Or spending the time to create an amazing 500 to 2000 word written article about your podcast episode.
I’d argue that if you only spent 10% or 20% more time on your show, it probably wouldn't make a gigantic difference. I don't think incremental time increases will have a transformative effect on your show. I think you need to invest a significantly different amount of time. Like double. Or maybe 5x over the time you are allotting today.
How would your show change if you had (magically, for now) five hours instead of one?
I spend two-and-half hours on the process of this podcast, Podcast Pontifications, for every single episode. And I spend those 2.5 hours four days a week. I am not kidding. I am not exaggerating.
What if, instead of 2.5 hours, I spent more like 10 hours on each episode? What if I spent a full day? What if I spent a full day on each episode? How would I spend that time? And what do I think would come out on the other end?
For one thing, I do spend a lot more time refining my thoughts. Quite often, I’m pontificating as I'm behind the microphone. Aside from a few hastily assembled notes, these episodes aren’t scripted. Sometimes, you’re getting my thoughts after 30 minutes or less of contemplation on my part, because I record first thing in the morning. So I wonder how these episodes would sound I had all day to think a particular topic and then record after I’ve processed it all.
When I give a keynote presentation on stage, I spend at least 8 to 20 hours -- at a minimum -- on the process. My talks -- almost always original content used just for that session -- are fully rehearsed, practiced, and nailed-down super tight. I’ve had projectors crap out on me just as my presentation starts and it doesn’t matter. I can give my complete talk without the slides. And even though I oftentimes pack my presentations with way too much information, I get rave reviews from the people in the audience. Even if they don't get or agree with the argument I’m making, people still tell me they enjoyed the experience of watching me give a talk.
I simply can’t spend less time on my presentations. Because if I did, they wouldn’t be my presentations. Without the 20+ hours, I’d deliver something vastly different.
What if you spent a significant amount of additional time on your show? That’s the big question I want you to think about. Not a few more minutes editing. Not half an hour more researching your topic. Not an hour a week more on social media marketing.
Imagine what is possible if you spent 5X (or maybe 10X) the amount of time you're spending right now on the full process of your podcast?
I recognize the seemingly insurmountable challenge this… er, challenge presents. And I recognize that some people can only invest the time they're investing right now. I get it. But even if that’s you, let your mind wander, and pontificate on this with me.
While you think about that, I'm going to think about it as well. My wife and I are driving out to California next week, and I don’t really want to record episodes while I’m on the road. So no new episodes next week. But I will be back in July with more episodes (and the second year!) of Podcast Pontifications.