Long story short: For a while now, I’ve wanted to work on and improve my speaking ability. As a result, I’ve launched a new short-form podcast called Five Minutes, you can listen to it here - There will be new episodes at least once a week, but maybe more - so subscribe to always know when one goes live.
Now onto that longer story, one told for if you are considering starting a podcast of your own.
I’ll run through my process from ideation of what the fuck to talk about, to how I recorded myself and remembering my lines without spending hours writing a script, all the way through to getting your work out there and then improving from that foundation.
What to talk about
The great thing about podcasts is that, unlike videos, you don’t have to wait for the light to be right, get a crazy set up, or even worry about editing. I myself publish five minutes of unedited, unfiltered content as often as I can. And I talk about absolutely anything that comes to mind.
Once I have the idea, I’ll write down six points I think should be covered and get to recording. I write six points as I intend to speak for five minutes and know that I talk quickly, so aiming for a minute on each topic usually results in a soliloquy of around that five minute mark I’m aiming for.
I initially wanted to release new episodes on a weekly basis, aiming to speak at greater length on the topic I covered in my newsletter. But I found that once I had that initial episode out there, I wanted to keep the momentum and harness that passion I had found.
Going forward, I will try and get at least one episode out a week that serves as an expansion on my newsletter, which provides a great launchpad of a topic for me to talk about, I’m just expanding on my own writing and thoughts.
But when I have something new I want to talk about, will I wait and add to the queue and hope to have that same passion several weeks from now? No. As shown with my most recent episode, when I have those ideas, I will always strive to get them out there. Unlike my newsletter, which can be queued into the future, I need my podcast to harness that moment of inspiration.
One of the main reasons I’m able to get my thoughts out there easily and consistent is I’m talking on topics I care for, design, tech, productivity — these are the tenants I hold close and I’m passionate about talking about. It works for me. But in all honesty, you can pick out whatever the hell you want to talk about and build around that. Select carefully though, make sure it’s chosen because you yourself love that topic and want to always be expanding on it, not just as a flavour of the month. The things you care about will get the most passion and true emotion from you, and in turn — make the best content.
How to record
I’m someone who suffers with scripts, I prefer things as a raw and off the top stream of consciousness. Or else I feel like a twat reading off a Teleprompter. So the manner in which I record and remember what to talk about is to already have identified patterns I can use to speak on a topic. It’s why making sure to always give fuck about what you’re talking about is so important. By thinking and creating in this way, you eliminate the hours of writing scripts and recording small snippets, hoping to be able to piece together something passable. In working based solely off your inspirations, you are able to simply write some bullet points on a piece of paper and make sure it’s in front of you for the entire time you are speaking. Then it’s just a case of sharing YOUR opinion and passion on something; rather than a regurgitated version that has been overanalysed.
The best content guides gently and is based off of passion, rather than trying to be too prescriptive or overcomplicating things. This means you’re running off of instinct and showing your true self. True drive is the thing that’s impossible to fake and will be a tonne easier to relate to for your audience, and as a result open that window of opportunity for you to gain the trust you need to succeed.
This method of working through a series of bullet points to segue between or spark new trains of thought is used frequently by a whole host of people you watch, relate to, and aspire towards. From Joe Rogan, who keeps his notes in front of him at all times, to Gary Vee, who writes down talking points throughout the day and references them before he hits record. That familiar cadence that shows humanity is from a lack of script and presenting true and reactive opinions.
Approaching things from this high-level, general talking point perspective will mean things never end up feeling robotic or unnatural. You want your communication and content to feel like it is a journey, one built by sharing your vision and instinct. This kind of content will ensure you build engagement with the human on the other side of the screen. The result will be much more engaging for the end user. Your content is simply your opinion, framed correctly and presented well and in a way that someone will understand and relate to.
I write this article as someone not who has the perfect content, this simply isn’t true. Not only because nothing can be perfect, but also because I know that everything is a constantly fluid and iterative proceed. Even with the podcast I’m so proud of getting out there (despite only being two episodes in), I’ve still had actionable feedback. From the messages saying the first episode was too quiet, to the brutally honest thoughts of my friend Cassius, explaining that he felt I lacked passion. I, just as you should be, am a constantly improving work in progress.
A big part of being able to improve is to be yourself. When you’re acting on your own thoughts and ideas, it’s easier to understand how you came to that conclusion of your own will and direction. When you try to overanalyse or copy the path of someone else, without your own free will, it’s difficult to look back and “get” what’s actually going wrong, when things inevitably don’t work out as you’d expect. When I first went to kick things off with the podcast, I tried scripting things out and honing things to perfection, it sounded terrible. I hated it. And knew others would too.
When you sit and consume the kind of content you aspire towards, it’s very easy to then look at your own work with an even more neurotic eye. You yourself will always be your own worst critic. It’s important to remember that.
To counter this worry-centric approach, I went with just hitting record, talking on the notes I had made for what I’d hope to be somewhere in the region five minutes, then hitting publish.
As I result, things feel natural and not forced. It’s because I’m getting a true and natural stream of thought out there. Sure, there’s some “umm” and “ah”, maybe I’m not the best at “sounding exciting” yet, but it’s my first few tentative steps and I’d rather have it that way than feeling scripted. Plus, like with everything, things will improve with time, and I’ll get better at producing the kinds of dialogue needed with greater effectiveness. It’s just a case of flexing that muscle and working it out frequently, so I can improve.
Switching gears, and looking at the recording process from a technical standpoint, as I know some people are into that. Here’s how I did it: I just popped my phone in a GorillaPod in front of my face, plugged in a Shure MV88 Microphone and hit go in Anchor to start recording. After that I smash the publish button and get on with my day. It’s simple. I try not to overthink it over-polish things too much.
I know I just end up being over critical of everything if I do listen back. So I give it a miss.
Your own opinion on your own voice and the way you put things does not matter as much as you think it does. It’s useful to remember that sometimes the things you hate about yourself could be what others find a connection through, or show you to be more human. It’s why I don’t edit my episodes or waste that time giving myself the opportunity to inspect what I’ve made too much. If I completely fuck up, I’ll start again and maybe that’s easy because my episodes only are 5 minutes long. But, if it’s just a quick slip, I’ll correct it and continue. Just as I would on natural conversation. This is not about perfection. It is about persistence. On that subject, and to reference someone we mentioned earlier, and a titan if the podcasting industry, Joe Rogan, again — take a look at he manages every couple of days to have a free-flowing, recorded conversation with someone he doesn’t hang out with every day, and still it feels natural. It is a result of practice and persistence. Going back to older episodes of Rogan’s podcast, it didn’t feel as smooth, or as slick. It is only through that constant and considered action that he grew to the level he has reached and honed his craft so well.
Motivation & Release
I think one of the core reasons I was able to get over that anxiety of releasing my first episode, was the fact I didn’t listen back to it. Although now having had a couple bits of feedback I realised things were too quiet in that first release and I should have maybe spoken louder or with more passion, I am still happy with the result, as it has put that first brick in place and makes it easier to continue building. Rather than building up to something only to be disappointed when it doesn’t do amazingly, you just continue forwards. Your press on.
So when you have that moment of inspiration, act upon it. Get your thoughts out there and strike while the iron is hot. In doing so, you’ll gain that natural feeling and follow through with what you really want to do, rather than sitting, listening back and deleting what you’ve made. It’s easy to talk to yourself out of something the more time you have. So act quickly, get your ideas out there, record them and smash that publish button. Otherwise you’ll deliberate over it forever or write a script for hours only to never get around to recording it; and that will get you no new opportunities and no results. It will just waste your time. Which is not what you want.
So get your work out there. Share often and improve and iterate frequently. On that note...
To accompany this article, I’ve just shipped another episode of the podcast, that I mentioned above, talking about this exact topic further. Want to listen and find out how to conquer procrastination and hypercritical opinions from taking over? Have a listen here.