Learning to Podcast

podcastLater this week, I’ll be posting my first podcast, an interview with Chris Corrigan, Open Space guru and author of the Parking Lot blog. Chris is a conversationalist extraordinaire, so interviewing him was a piece of cake — future interviews will be tougher and need more research and planning.

Nevertheless, the brief time I spent in this first interview produced some learning and insights I had not expected. For a start, I learned that you have to know the objective of your podcast/interview before you begin. My podcasts have the same ultimate objective as my blog posts: to help readers better understand how the world really works, and to provide ideas on better ways to live and make a living.

To achieve this in my podcasts, I will basically have to throw away my interview ‘script’ and instead research my interviewees sufficiently to know what learning and ideas I want the interview to bring out.

This is a lot more than just throwing out open questions — it means you have to know the interviewee’s answers before you ask the questions. The interview just facilitates the emergence and articulation of ideas to the point that, as I’ve written before, the interviewer’s questions and voice can be omitted from the podcast without any loss of cohesion or clarity — you just listen to one person, the interviewee, conveying unhesitatingly the ideas and information. A form of conversational minimalism, if you will.

I could have done this with Chris’ interview. Because he’s so skilled, I didn’t need or want to say much beyond getting him started with one broad question.

I’ve tentatively decided, however, to take another approach, at least for this first podcast. What I’m going to do is essentially write, and then read, a blog post about my interview with Chris, with Chris’ voice and comments, edited down, interspersed. This will allow me to add my own, measured, thoughts to Chris’, and to elaborate a bit on what I think he’s getting at, in my own words.

The result, I suppose, will be, as Chris put it, a bit like a CBC Ideas program — a narrated interview.

I don’t know that I’ll be able to sustain this — it may be more work than I have time to invest once a week. But it will be fun to ‘produce’ a two-person exposition, crafted one person at a time and then ‘mixed’.

Three other things I learned from this first podcast production experience:

  1. Test the technology first. For some reason Pamela (the recording software) stopped recording every 60 seconds, so Chris was interrupted once a minute with another “this call is being recorded” message. Man is he patient!
  2. When you’re recording a call, you listen completely differently (and more intently). Suddenly, the conversation’s for your audience, not for you. Great exercise for interrupters and thinkers-ahead like me. When you start letting people finish talking, you learn more, and you let the conversation go in directions that open your thinking up. It’s astonishing, and humbling.
  3. Conversation is, at its best, collaboration. When I tore up the script and started following Chris’ comments with “Yes, and…” sentences, we went suddenly from exposition to revelation. Breakthrough ideas (you’ll have to wait for the podcastto hear what they were).

Podcast and transcript will be posted in a few days, once the editing and narration are done. Thanks Chris!

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3 Responses to Learning to Podcast

  1. lugon says:

    “When you’re recording a call, you listen completely differently (and more intently).” We need to try this out on our own.Maybe, this I don’t know, even as a co-listening thing (you know how it goes: A speaks for 5 minutes while B listens, then roles are reversed).And it’s also interesting to note that you’re used to “thinking with an audience”. It’s “listening with an audience” that makes it different. And we commenters are used to … what, exactly? Hmm.

  2. Tina says:

    “…you have to know the interviewee’s answers before you ask the questions.”I think this could be limiting, Dave. One of my favorite quotes from David Cooperrider of Appreciative Inquiry fame is:”A truly expansive, transformational, paradigm-altering question is one to which the answer is not yet known.”Consider taking a risk with your questions. It’s okay not to know the answers in advance – in fact, I think it is preferable! Your interviewee will surprise you and your audience – and isn’t that where the delight is?

  3. Graham says:

    With regard to knowing the answers to the questions, I guess it’s a question of balance. I’m just listening to “The Power of Myth” with Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, which is generally acknowledged to be a fine example of this mode of communication. Clearly Bill knows the answers before he asks the questions and uses his questions to shape the entire interview. I find this annoying but it does make each interview coherent, and I’m sure Bill Moyers was surprised at least some of the time.

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