Your Show Notes Are Your Podcast s Map

Your Show Notes Are Your Podcast's Map

"In the time it takes me to listen to one podcast, I could have scanned through 30 or 40 blogs." This is the biggest complaint about podcasting from those who read a lot of blogs. This is why having show notes is so important. It gives potential listeners the chance to quickly scan what is going to be on your show before they decide to download it.

Remember, not all your listeners will be subscribed to your feed (Rob averages about 25% of his listeners coming through direct downloads rather than RSS subscription). Many podcasters use blogging software to post their show notes, and this allows for another way to get listener feedback through the Comments feature. If you are going to put up show notes, we highly recommend that you allow your listeners a way to leave feedback.

Earlier we discussed using a forum as a way to build a community. Some podcasters also use their forums as a place to post their show notes. This offers an easy way for your audience to leave feedback, and it also allows you to see how many times the show notes for that episode were accessed. What's more, it is another way to let people know about your forum and to get them more involved in the show's community.

Detailed Notes

Some show notes are extremely detailed, with breakdowns on what was being talked about at exact times within the show. An example of some very detailed show notes would look like this.

00:00: Introduction.

00:41: Song by The Reverse Engineers.

04:37: NewsNew computer arrived and will be setting up.

05:28: NewsWife not happy about new purchase. Need to buy something. Call out to listeners for gift ideas.

06:41: Tech tipTalked about how to edit out buzz from background.

09:12: Listener feedbackPlayed clip from Bruce at the Zedcast.

11:40: PromoPlayed promo for SG Show.

13:10: More listener feedbackPlayed clip from listener named Steve, complaining that the show is not released often enough.

14:20: Asked listeners to let me know how often they would like to see the show released.

15:02: Gave feedback number and email address and wished all a happy new year. Next show will be on Friday.

16:00: Song by Cruisebox. End of show.

When notes are done to this level of detail, they almost always have links to external references. In this example, there could be links to the two songs mentioned, the Zedcast and the SG Show, plus one to the computer purchased and maybe one more to a picture of the angry wife.

If you are looking to put together the most detailed show notes possible, you should investigate doing what Adam Curry does with the Daily Source Code (along with at least 50 other podcasters), and that is to use WikiNotes ( WikiNotes allows you to engage your audience by helping you fill in the show notes (see Figure 12.4). This program uses a wikia program or website that allows users other than the owner to edit and add information. This allows the users to add comments, links, and other information to your show notes. This collaborative effort makes your listeners a part of the podcast beyond passive listening. Looking at the different podcasts listed at this site, you can see varying degrees of success. You can see that Adam Curry gets a very detailed breakdown of his shows from listeners, whereas others get basically no interaction from their audience.

Figure 12.4. gives wiki technology to people who want more interactive show notes.

We suggest that if you go this route, you put in your show notes to start and allow your listeners to make additions and changes. Do not expect them to do all the heavy lifting for you.

Bare-Bones Notes

Sometimes all you really need for show notes is just a quick outline of the show and couple of links to some items mentioned during the show. This is typically what you would choose for an interview show. You really do not want to give away too much about the interview, but you would want to point out who you interviewed and give a link to that person's website if he or she has one. This allows your listeners to find out more about the person before or after listening to the show.

Mur's podcast, Geek Fu Action Grip, uses bare-bones notes. She tries to keep track of the main topics covered in the podcast and links she referenced, but that's about it. The show notes for show #47 illustrate this:

Geek Fu #47Things That Should Be Funny November 13th, 2005

  • My rant on Christmas decorations

  • Lessons of the Geek Fu Master podiobook

  • I'm writing a book with Rob from Podcast411!

  • I have too many podcasts to listen to.

  • My rant on "Happy Holidays"

  • Essay: Things That Should Be Funny, But Aren't (Pt 1)

  • Posted in General || 12 Comments »

We would also recommend with bare-bones show notes to have a place for listeners' comments. Again, using blogging software or a forum will work fine in this situation. In the example shown here, listeners can give feedback at Mur's blog, run by WordPress. However, in this case, a Wiki approach would be overkill.

When Notes Aren't Necessary

One option is not to have any show notes at all. Because many podcasters come out of the blogging world, they feel they need to have some show notes. But certain podcasts just don't need them, such as comedy podcasts. After all, do your listeners really need to know at the 2:14 mark there is a joke about a rhesus monkey and a flamethrower? Some podcasters want their entire show to be spontaneous and do not want to give away anything about what is going to happen. If you do not need show notes, then do not post them. If your listeners disagree, they will let you know.

"If we are really honest with ourselves, attention is what we all seek. That's certainly true of us podcasters who want nothing more than an audience, the bigger the better! But it is also generally true of all human beings. When we are little kids, it's 'Mommy, look at me! Mommy, look at what I can do.' As we grow up, we learn to seek attention in subtler ways but the hunger for it never goes away."

Dr. David Van Nuys, Shrink Rap Radio

Dr. Van Nuys' quote is so important to remember. Make sure you give your listeners the attention they are looking for. It does not have to be just from you. It can come from other listeners of the show. Again, this is why it is so important to try and build a community around your show.

Tricks of the Podcasting Masters
Tricks of the Podcasting Masters
ISBN: 0789735741
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 162

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