Ever found yourself holding court at the pub, spouting non-stop zingers to a table of enraptured, wide-eyed mates, thinking: "I must take my voice to the iTunes store, for I am an extremely entertaining man"?
You definitely have. We all have. But not many of us have the sheer chutzpa necessary to actually sit down a record a podcast of our very own. We find it confusing, and scary, and our recorded voice sounds like someone is doing a piss-takey impression of our actual voice.
That's where Olly Mann steps in. The podcast veteran found fame with the widely popular Answer Me This! back in 2006, and now hosts The Modern Mann (available on Acast), a weekly guide to trends, culture and sex alongside Ollie Peart and Alix Fox. Here, he has presented some golden rules that you need to follow before you press record:
1 | Struggling for an angle? Your name is always a good starting point
"I'm not going to pretend that The Modern Mann wasn't just a pun on my own name to begin with. I wanted my own show, and I wanted to put my name in the title, so I thought, "Well, what can you do with that name?"
2 | Your smartphone is all you need
"Personally, I use a semi-pro portable recorder made by Olympus because I like the sound quality, alongside radio-standard Beyer microphones that you can get off eBay for a couple of hundred quid. But if I wanted to, I could record the whole thing on my iPhone voice memos and upload it from there. Smartphones have shifted the possibilities for everyone."
3 | Don't tell people you're doing it
"Until you've done a couple of months. Because however good you think that first show is, it's actually shit. You'll only realise that by episode 20."
4 | Interview people in the pub
"… And not when they're promoting something. That's where they'll tell you what they really think. One trick I use [to get more out of an interviewee] is this: I'll stop the track after we've been talking for about half an hour, and start checking the equipment. And after that weird little moment that resets the interview, people are more relaxed and loose, and willing to give more interesting answers."
5 | You'll spend most of your time editing out how awful you are
"Getting used to the sound of your own voice and all of the stupid things you say is a big hurdle. But you need to break through that pain barrier – and remember to edit them out. Just because you can fill the Internet with hours and hours of your own rambling voice, that doesn't mean you should."
6 | The spirit of podcasting is just pressing record
"It doesn't matter if you're not sure whether you've got the content or the ability: just do it. The thing about podcasting is it's self-selecting, The audience selects to listen. It's not just playing in the background. If you're good then people will tune-in, so you don't need to spend time worrying about that and just have fun. Getting a spot on radio back in the day was much, much harder. You had to record and send a demo to Capital Radio or Radio 4, and they'd probably just say: "You're not famous enough, fuck off."
7 | Listen and learn from the masters
"There are certain production techniques that have existed in radio for decades, and they've existed for a reason. They're the things that make a show a more palatable, entertaining, addictive and compelling."
8 | There's an interesting story on the street where you live
"And that's the story I haven't heard, because every other fucker's in London. People are fascinating and they've lived mad lives, so go shove a microphone in their face."
9 | People trust people
"The internet provides a huge range of things to explore, but actually sometimes you just end up talking to yourself. Relearning stuff you already know. Ideally, you want to bring people something that they've never really thought of before, alongside the stuff that they already like. People still want curators and editors to say, "Here's another thing that we think is really interesting and cool."
10 | Facebook isn't the only place to advertise your podcast
"Back near the start of Answer Me This!, we came up with a press stunt. We realised at that time that the British iTunes chart was dominated by the BBC, but in Luxemburg the content was a little easier to beat. So we went to Luxemburg for two days, filmed it for YouTube, gave out free biscuits, went on their English language radio station and stated our mission: to get to number one. We ultimately reached number three, but I sold an article about it to the Telegraph, and then we got invited on Sky News to talk about it. Suddenly, we were plugging our show to everyone. Just have an eye for those opportunities. "
11 | Respect your listeners' intelligence
"The reason podcasts are so increasingly popular in the US is because their radio is terrible, and treats its listeners like idiots. We're seeing that here too – though it's less pronounced, as we do have Radio 4 and 5 Live who treat their audience intelligently. Generally speaking, you can't get a radio show unless you were a presenter in the 80s, a reality star or a pop star. There's a real hunger at the moment for broadcasters who do treat their audience with intelligence."