July 17, 2020

The Unaired Pilot

#004 - Would you expect a child to make a free throw the first time they touch a basketball?

Would you expect a theater cast to perform flawlessly during their first rehearsal?

I certainly wouldn't. It's not a matter of doubting their talent. It's the simple fact that skills take time, effort, and practice to learn, to hone, to perfect.

Now is the time for you to starting practicing.

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NOTE: This transcript was automatically created with the help of AI. There may still be a few errors or inaccuracies.

My entire plate had been cleared, except for five little green beans.

My mother looked over and said, "If you want your dessert, you're gonna have to eat your green beans too."

"But I don't like green beans", I replied.

"Have you ever tried green beans?", came a quick reply.

I look sheepishly down plate and muttered, "No."

"Well, you never know unless you try."

Podcast Better is for you, the podcaster, or soon to be podcaster, who has a business, a cause, or hobby that you're passionate about. Each week we'll take a closer look at the mental, physical, and technical skills necessary to produce a quality show that your fans will want to listen to. Thanks for sharing part of your day with me so that we can podcast better together.

Welcome fellow podcaster to another exciting episode of Podcast Better.

Today, we'll be discussing what I like to call The Unaired Pilot. You know that episode of a TV series that a writer creates to bring their idea to life.

It will give the network execs, the general idea of what they want the series to be. But there's two important things to note. This may not be what the final product turns out to be. And the pilot, this episode, this pilot episode may never actually reach the airwaves.

Personally now I've started four podcasts. Of those four only one of them continues to follow the format and time structure that I envisioned for it at the time of launch.

It's not because my original plans were bad per se, but rather, as I worked on each show, and let it develop naturally, things changed. Between the content that I was delivering and the community that developed around each show, it just made sense to alternate my plans.

My point being, you never really know what a show can or dare I say should be until you try.

Going back to the green beans example you, you won't know if you like green beans, unless you try them. For the record, I still don't like green beans. But with a podcast, you won't know if you like the style or the format you've chosen, unless you try it.

Now I don't want to discount the good that can come from planning ahead, but I also don't want it to be a roadblock for you.

In this case, I think, Nike got it just right. Just do it. Just try something, evaluate the results, and adjust as necessary.

TV shows will do this all the time. We see it in the unaired pilots like I was talking about the beginning, and we see it past that. How many shows do you know that people tell you, you just have to get past the first season and then it will get good?

So many shows, so many of the biggest longest lasting shows that are out there. The Office, right? Great, great show. Huge following, 10 seasons, they were by all accounts, a success.

But their first season, thank goodness it's only like six episodes long. It was not that great and a lot of things change from season one to season two even and things develop as the show goes on past that as well.

Same thing with Friends back in the 90s right?

Season one, honestly, wasn't that good, but it still made it. It still succeeded. They were able to change things as they went on, as the show developed, as they gained the fan base.

The community, to some extent, told them what they wanted and what works and what didn't.

I've done this as well. One of my shows, we actually recorded, my co-host I actually sat down and recorded on three separate nights, three separate test episodes. Pilot episodes, if you will.

None of these have ever been aired. We have the recordings of them somewhere but we listened to them and we're like, yeah, you know, we don't like that we don't like how that worked.

These are all iterations. We change things from from test one to test two to test three, but then we came up with format. Then we started recording what became our live episodes, and what we now have, you know, episode one.

But we made it through an entire season, our first season of that show, and decided, you know, it's still not quite right. It's still not working. And we changed it again after season one. It's okay to do these things, nothing has to be set in stone.

But my point that I want to get across here or actually I have a few points, but why should you run these test episodes? Why should you create an unaired pilot?

This is especially important if you have never done any podcasting before. I do it now, mostly just to help me determine the kind of format, I want for the show. To make sure the content I'm putting out there works with the format and how I want the show to flow.

It also will give me an idea of how long each episode is going to be. Now that the length of podcast episodes, is a discussion for another day. I have a lot to say on that.

But it will give me a general idea of what I can expect going forward. What I can expect from the content that I'm putting into the show, because that's something I learned after my very first podcast is: shows tend to go longer than you think they will.

For instance, my very first show that I recorded as my podcast under my brand name was, I thought it was going to be a 20 to 30 minute show it turned out to be... I think the first episode was about an hour and a half. And we quickly ramped that up to about two hours per episode.

They got longer and longer after that but we can talk about that another day as well.

My point being, it was way off from my original estimate. When it was me just sitting down thinking, oh yeah I think we'll talk for about 30 minutes. No, no, not at all.

The only way we could figure that out is because we sat down and started recording episodes.

And so that's actually two of the things that recording a test episode, a pilot episode is going to do for you. Whether you air this episode or not that's up to you, but it's going to give you a lot of good information.

But if this is your first time podcasting, recording this test episode is going to do so much more for you. This is going to give you a chance to put into practice everything that either I've been teaching you or that other people, maybe you've watched some YouTube videos read some blog posts, whatever the case may be. However you decided to consume your content, however you do your research about podcasting...

Proper mic technique. This is very, very important and it's one of those things that you may not realize how hard or easy it is to do until you actually try it. You might not realize why it's so important, until you actually try it, and you go back and listen to your recording and find out.

Oh, I was way too loud here or I was way too soft or my plosives are out of control.

All these little things that could happen that you may not even realize are happening until you go back and listen to the recording.

Would you rather have that on a test episode that no one in the world ever has to hear, or would you rather have it on your first episode where you brought a guest on?

Then you're like, oh man, I don't like how that turned out, but I don't want to go back and ask my guests to come on again and rerecord the entire episode.

Get these things out of the way. Record this test episode, so you can start practicing these things and find out the little intricacies of podcasting.

Along with proper mic technique, I want to talk about your recording setup.

I've heard enough people even experienced podcasters but especially beginners, you get through the entire episode and find out you forgot to press record. Or you thought you pressed record or you press record on... Maybe you press record on your computer, but then you found out that your microphone wasn't plugged in, or your microphone wasn't set to the correct input on your computer.

Or there's just so many little technical details that just need to be set up once really, in most cases. But would you rather find out about that, during a test episode that doesn't count? Or would you find rather find out after your first episode is completed, or at least you thought it was completed? And then you find out you have nothing. You have no recording.

So we're up to four things already when we're talking about this test episode is gonna allow you to check the length, it's going to allow you to test a format, it's gonna allow you to practice proper mic technique, it's gonna allow you to figure out if you have your recording setup connected correctly and you know all the buttons you need to press in order to get your recording.

Then it's gonna allow you to take it one step further. And this is something I just talked about in the last episode, in Episode Three. Filler words.

Filler words are all those umms, ahhs, you know, so yeah. All these little words and phrases that we often subconsciously put out there just to fill space, but when you're listening back on a recording, especially if you're nervous because you've never done this before. Or maybe that's just how you speak because, like I talked about in Episode Three, you are just inexperienced.

You're not a professional speaker. Whatever the case may be, this is a time to practice. And this is a time to learn where you can improve. You have all the time in the world before you launch. No one has any reason to tell you that you have to launch by a certain date.

I mean, unless you work for a large company and your boss has set a deadline for you. Well, okay, work with that deadline. But this is your podcast for the most part, for the average person doing this. It's your podcast. You're in control. You set the dates.

You are able to decide when you're ready to launch.

So my recommendation to you, if you have not launched your podcast yet: Record a pilot episode.

Record a test episode. Practice, practice, practice. Figure out how long your podcast might be. Figure out what type of format might work for your podcast.

If you don't like the first time try another one. Like I said, I've done three test episodes for a single podcast, and then still changed after season one.

Sometimes you just don't know until you've been through enough iterations until you've tried something enough to figure out what works and what doesn't, or how you want to do things a lot of times there is no right answer.

This is a creative art. Podcasting is a creative art. And because of that, a lot of the things that you're doing are subjective, and even things that are maybe considered objective that are, you know, quote unquote, industry standards.

A lot of those are probably just subjective as well. This is the way that the general public has accepted them. This is the way podcast directories, have requested that we do things or so on and so forth.

But a lot of podcasting is subjective.

So wrapping this up again, like said length, format, make sure you're using proper mic technique. If you don't know what I'm talking about, either go look up some videos, or contact me. I can help you out with this.

My buddy Brent and I are actually, this week as I'm recording this, we're going through a series of Facebook Lives showing people exactly how to use their mics as well, so you can get some free training over there.

You can find that over on Facebook. At facebook.com/ThePodcastersGuild. That's facebook.com/ThePodcastersGuild.

You'll be able to find those Facebook Live videos over there. And we'll teach you all about microphone basics. Everything from selecting a microphone to hooking it up to the accessories you might need to how to use of proper mic technique and setting levels and all this stuff.

So along with proper practicing proper mic technique, you can look into your recording setup, make sure you have everything connected the way it needs to be. Make sure you're actually able to record your episodes with the equipment you have and with the setup you have, and you know which buttons you need press when.

It's not difficult to do, but if this is your first time doing it, it's just nice to know that, to have a little bit of confidence that you do have it set up correctly and you do know which buttons you need press.

So when you're going into recording your first episode, you can say, Hey, I know what I'm doing, I've done this before. Not, I hope I'm doing this right, I hope I'm pressing the right buttons.

No, I've done this before. I've gotten the recording. Let's do this.

And then finally, listen for those filler words or phrases and correct them, or should I say, don't say them, essentially, check Episode Three of Podcast Better, where I talked about removing the need to ever edit out these filler words again.

It is a game changer. It really is. I hate people using that phrase I'm kind of mad at myself for using it, but it honestly did change my podcasting life forever.

It saves me so much time in editing now, just because of a few little tweaks I made.

So go check out Episode Three for those details, but that's it. That's what I'm talking about. That's why I need you to go record your pilot episode.

Go record a test episode. Practice, practice, practice. You'll thank me for it later. That's all for now, we'll talk soon.

Oh, just a minute fellow podcaster.

If you've made it this far. I hope you enjoyed what you heard in this episode. I would absolutely love if you could take a few minutes to leave a rating and review on the podcast platform of your choice. Wherever you listen to this podcast, whether that be Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts or Spotify or any other podcast directory or platform or player, please leave me a review. It would mean the world to me.

And then if you could, take one step further. I want to be able to read all these reviews. So if you could take a screenshot of that review and post it on social media.

Tag me in it on Twitter, Instagram, you can find me @podbetterpod.

Or you can find us on Facebook as well at facebook.com/PodcastBetter.

Not only will these ratings and reviews help the visibility of the show, but it will tell me what you like and maybe what you don't like about the show. And that's going to help me grow.

So like I said, it would mean the world to me if you could take just a couple minutes out of your day and leave me a review for this show wherever you're listening to it.

Take a screenshot and share it with me on social media. I can't wait to hear from you. We'll see you soon.