Thinking About a More Personal Style of Podcasting
You can either listen to this post as a mini-podcast or just read it. They're mostly the same, but not entirely.
I listened to a couple of podcasts back to back tonight that, taken alone, might not have had as strong an impact on me as they did together. The first was Mark in Canada's "Musings of a Tech Writer -- Episode 21," in which he lists the top 10 most annoying things podcasters do. Then I listened to Scott Nesbitt's interview of Theresa Mulvihill Talbot about XML. Both are excellent podcasts, but I realized that I'm more drawn by the personal podcast, even if it's not as informative.
This caused me to seriously reflect because almost all of my podcasts are interview-driven podcasts. I pick someone knowledgeable about a suject I'm interested in, think of a handful of questions, and then call them up and interview them.
This approach works fairly well to generate content easily and quickly, without requiring much preparation on my part. However, it's not as powerful as the personal podcast, nor even as engaging as the cohost podcast. Given my affinity for personal essays, I want to move in the direction of the personal podcast as well, only I think I'll either try to read my essays in a non-reading voice, or use them as an outline, or something, I'm not sure -- I want to bring my audio endeavors more back to my own writing.
Mark's number 2 thing that drives him crazy about podcasts is as follows:
Podcasters who take their show and themselves very seriously.
This is another point that made me stop and think. People have been telling me I take things too seriously all my life. In fact, on the very first date with my wife, nearly 10 years ago, she said something similar, like, "Tom, do you really take things so seriously?" At the time, we were English majors reading and talking about people like Whitman and Chaucer, and it was easy to talk about the books we were reading as if they were the sine qua non of a well-lived life.
At least my career in technical writing has taught me to lighten up a bit, since a technical manual isn't nearly as important as Leaves of Grass.
About Tom Johnson
I'm a technical writer based in the Seattle area. In this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, visual communication, information architecture, writing techniques, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out simplifying complexity and API documentation for some deep dives into these topics. If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the field, be sure to subscribe to email updates. You can also learn more about me or contact me.