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12 commandments for successful podcasting

SUMMARY: Bad and boring podcasting is easy to accomplish. It is important to get podcasting right from the start. Your church's reputation is at stake.

Don't let your podcast fall prey to these common mistakes. Heed these "12 commandments!"

1. Thou shalt not let the "computer nerd" do the entire podcast.
True, the computer nerd is the one person in yourchurch who knows what "RSS" is. Podcasting, however, is a marketing and public relations effort. Your information technology (IT) person needs a marketing /communications person to be the presenter.

2. Thou shalt not let the "slick marketer" do the entire podcast.
Marketers understand how to get people emotionally involved in your programs. However, they don't understand setting up an RSS feed. Marketing needs IT to set up the podcast.

3. Thou shalt bring in help.
Your IT person is likely to know very little about microphones and sound production. Marketing/communications won't know on-air vocal technique. You may need to enlist a sound technician and a trained speaker to help.

4. Thou shalt not quit after an unsuccessful pilot.
"Let's just try one and see how it goes." Podcasting doesn't work that way. It takes time to gather steam and show return on investment. Try it for six months. If you're not willing to commit, forget it.

5. Thou shalt not think listeners grow on trees.
Like everything else, you must market your podcast. At the least, set up a blog and an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed.

6. Thou shalt not overproduce your podcast.
Keep your podcast conversational, professional and easy to produce. You don't need $20,000 of audio-video gear to producesomething of value to your audience. Focus on the content and you will do OK.

7. Thou shalt not expect your podcast to be a one-way monologue.
You can't just use your podcast as a radio spot. You're not talking to a wall. Podcasting is the beginning of a conversation. Expect, allow and react to comments.

8. Thou shalt not pad your podcast.
Nothing is worse than a podcast that keeps going when participants have run out of things to say. A single annoying podcast can cost many subscribers. Don't bother with a theme song or a long introduction. Get to the meat right away. This isn't radio, and you're not calling people back after a commercial break. If you must add a familiar stamp to your podcast, make it a two-second flare.

9. Thou shalt not drone on and on in your podcast.
If you're not interested, you won't sound interested. To keep your interest high, place a mirror behind the mike and watch your own expression as you speak.Words sound more inviting when you say them with a smile.

10. Thou shalt not read your interview questions or your script.
Use an outline with bullets so your dialogue sounds as if you are conversing with listeners.

11. Thou shalt not assume podcasting will solve all of your communications challenges.
Podcasting is just one tool. For podcasts to work well, you must integrate them into your whole communications plan.

12. Thou shalt resist the temptation to put out repurposed marketing material.
You bond with people on their problems, not your solutions. Don't regurgitate your brochure in audio format. Do something more genuine.