The Podcast host Podcasters can find mentors, online courses, and general resources on podcasting here. Their latest update marks the start of a great opportunity for students in Scotland: the Scottish Podcast Scholarship helps a winner produce and publish their podcast idea. We wanted to talk to Colin Gray, the founder, to understand what’s behind this interesting and educational project and how important it is to train and learn through podcasts.

You are an online educator and have been teaching podcasting for over 7 years. In relation to your background, what do you think is the most difficult part of teaching students to podcast?

One thing that podcasting students have a really hard time learning is the balance between presenter and technique. It’s really common for them to talk to a client for 50 minutes through microphones and mixers and only 10 minutes about the content of their podcast within our first hour. We all know that content is the most important aspect, and yet it is the most neglected component when we think about planning. Even if we can get customers to think about content, they usually jump straight to the topics that interest them instead of thinking about the audience first. If you can only spend an hour or two refining your audience, that’s more valuable than almost anything else you can do. Once you know who you are talking to – you know them in graphic and vivid detail – you can really start getting under the skin of their problems, their pains, their likes, their dislikes. And it is this knowledge that drives compelling content on your end.
The other aspect concerns presentation skills. Far too few podcasters spend time improving their presentation skills. Sign up for a class anywhere or join Toastmasters. Work on your speaking, your voice, your cadence, your style. If you plan to conduct interviews, work on this skill as much as you can. People completely underestimate how difficult it is to do a convincing interview. 90% of the interviews are terrible. At first glance, that’s fine – we have to do some terrible interviews to get good at it. But I hear so many interviewers who are not improving in any way. They are obviously not working on their craft or even listening to previous podcasts. That is poor. Conscious practice is the way to improve and can be accelerated enormously through groups, clubs and paid courses.

You launched the Scottish Podcast Scholarship through How will you personally support the student who wins the scholarship?

A big part of the support we offer is the initial planning and design. As I mentioned earlier, far too few people think of their ideal listener, their avatar, their audience persona. Another aspect that is often overlooked is the return people expect from their podcast – what are the goals you have for getting it? This has to be specific and measurable. Only with really tangible goals can you measure progress and motivate yourself in those early days when audience numbers are low and feedback is rare. Finally, let’s look at advertising: how are we going to get this podcast out into the world? A large part of this is in audience planning. Once you know who you’re talking to, you’ll begin to find out why. That leads to what, specifically, you are solving and why YOU are the one to do it. With these details you can put together a marketing message and figure out exactly where to place it so that it will be seen by your ideal listeners.

In your opinion, should universities and schools in general take advantage of the growing popularity of podcasting and teach students how to do it?

Absolutely, and some already. A good example of this is content created by colleagues.

Imagine an assessment where the result is a podcast (or any type of media) rather than an essay. What’s more, the podcast is freely available to the world – it’s unlocked, a bogus creation made for research purposes only. Even better, it’s created so that both your current colleagues and your students are not yet able to take the course. This is really easy to do by assigning topics to students to teach their peers and asking them to deliver the results as media. We had great results where the students became much more knowledgeable about a topic by teaching instead of just keeping a private essay for an instructor. Students peer-reviewed the submissions and learned more through lessons from their classmates. This created a great deal of enthusiasm for the entire topic.

Colin is a founder, podcaster, and online educator, teaching podcasting and online business. He is also passionate about mountain biking. You can follow him Twitterwhere he completely mixes podcasting and biking tweets.

A shortened version of this interview appeared in the Podcasting Newsletter, a bi-weekly one Newsletter with the latest news from the podcasting industry. If you are interested in it just get it Subscribe here.

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