The Next Voice You Hear

Posted: January 30, 2015

Podcasts.

I have to admit they’re not my favorite. I’m a visual thinker and a haptic (or tactile) learner, so I find most sorts of audio-only media to be excruciating. I can tolerate it for short periods, if the topic is of high interest, but for the most part, talk radio, audiobooks, podcasts—they make me shudder.

I have seen them done well. There is a podcast listed on iTunes from the Admissions Office of Reed College. It has a video slideshow attached to it, so there is something for the eyes and the ears. Recently, I’ve also seen video podcasts, but it seems as though podcasting is being superseded by YouTube videos, much the way radio was superseded by television. Thus, I think it is more in a counselor’s best interest to have a YouTube channel, rather than podcasting.

Nevertheless, some of the rules of podcasting also apply to video production. Each episode should be limited in scope, to better fit the busy lives and short attention spans of teens and parents. Trying to pack in too much content will cause your audience’s eyes to glaze over and they will quickly move on to the next thing. If you’re interviewing someone, be sure to research your guest and prep your questions in advance. The conversation flows more naturally when you both know what to expect.

Use a natural voice and demeanor. You don’t need the measured cadence of an NPR anchor, but practice your presentation so you don’t sound like you’re reading a script, even if you are. Be aware of distractions in the background, either auditory or visual. A computer in a relatively empty room will sound like you’re broadcasting from the bottom of a well. Other ambient noise that you may no longer notice, such as the hum of a ceiling fan or talking in the next room, can be picked up by your mic and make listening to your presentation uncomfortable.

In addition to these rules, videos have their own pitfalls. A super busy background, such as a bookshelf, becomes even more of a distraction if you are sitting very close to it. Your camera should be approximately half the distance to you that someone sitting in the room with you would be, to give the illusion that your audience is part of the conversation. Wear something comfortable and brightly colored, but not a riot of color. A black top and a pretty scarf or tie will make you look professional and not distract from your message.

Whether you choose to share your message through podcasts or a YouTube channel, the multimedia approach will benefit both you and your clients.

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