A regular meeting or discussion can present an excellent opportunity for a roundtable podcast. If the regular meeting’s purpose is clear, participants know their stuff, and your gut tells you there are listeners for your show, go for it.
However, let’s acknowledge an important fact: Roundtable discussions weren’t designed as podcasts. Therefore, transforming them into a discussion that listeners want requires forethought and probably some adjustments to get things just right.
Guidelines for turning a roundtable discussion into a podcast
1. Have a strong chairperson or moderator
People love to discuss and debate. But if people talk over each other or monopolize a conversation, it isn’t going to be an enjoyable or informative experience for listeners.
The best way to manage a roundtable show is with simple non-verbal cues. Sit back when you’ve finished talking. The co-ordinator can point to who should go first if two people share their thoughts at once. Or you can encourage members to say: “You go first and I’ll follow”. This can be removed in the editing so that the final episode has a really nice flow.
To chair a roundtable podcast you need a skilled moderator. Sometimes interruptions are warranted, and might even break off a long digression. It comes with practice and time. And you can always rely on editing in the early stages to remove unwanted interruptions or noise.
Rob Finlay, pictured, an innovator in the commercial real estate field and CEO of Thirty Capital, is a great example of a host of a roundtable. He moderates a weekly capital markets report discussion. The conversation is quickly transformed into CRE Capital Markets Report.
Rob’s ability to transition from one subject to another appears effortless. He invites participants to comment on the part of the discussion that’s relevant to them. Rob also encourages feedback on a participant’s comments. These skills take time to develop, and you learn by practicing and watching others.
2. Appreciate and respect each other
You may think it’s odd that I’m addressing the softer points ahead of technology, but they are more important. You can master the technical hurdles. However, without a strong chairperson or collegial respect amongst the group, it’s unlikely your show will be a good one.
Demonstrate a healthy respect for your discussion group. Of course, it’s fine to disagree and give the reason why. Be sure to say when you agree with someone or have facts to share that back-up what a colleague said. This tells the listener that a piece of information or fact is especially valuable.
Keep in mind that if your show is a business podcast, or fits into one of the social sciences, pulling “gotcha” moments during a discussion, contradicting, or even criticizing your fellow participants isn’t cool. That may have a place in some styles of show, such as comedy or entertainment, but not in business shows.
3. Come prepared for the discussion
This sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t get ready for a roundtable conversation, instead trying to adlib it through the discussion.
In Rob’s case, his team of analysts must prepare because, as the title implies, CRE Capital Markets Report analyzes market news from that morning, along with the previous week’s headlines. For each of the analysts—Bryan Kern, Jay Saunders, Jeff Lee, and Jason Kelley—it’s a vital part of their job to stay on top of market news and minute-by-minute updates. This may not be the case for your show, but your contribution will be much more valuable with some research.
4. Get the sound and lighting right
Given that it’s Q3 of 2021 and we’re still emerging from COVID, it’s possible that you’re recording remotely. If this is the case, it’s easy to get good sound and lighting.
Go with external USB mics, because most inbuilt microphones on laptops, tablets, and phones are low-quality. In particular, they don’t separate background noise and your voice, meaning other people can struggle to hear what you’re saying. To get good quality sound, invest in an external mic. There are plenty available for under $100.
Platforms such as Zencastr and Zoom can work well for video and audio recording. For Zoom, be sure to set it to multi-track recording for better sound control and editing. Encourage participants to use simple sound-dampening techniques, such as pillows and blankets. Enunciate well and for those of you who speak quickly, slow down a bit!
Assess the lighting. Is there strong backlighting that’s creating a halo-effect? Are there heavy shadows on some people’s faces from spotlights? Solve these issues and create the best possible lighting you can for a pleasant visual experience.
As you’ll see on the video version of CRE Capital Markets Report, the lighting and sound are good for all the participants, and the gallery format with names makes it easy to identify who’s who.
5. The in-person group recording
When you’re back in the office or ready to record in-person, then it’s likely time to upgrade equipment. You’ll want to invest in some XLR dynamic microphones, designed to pick up only the noise right in front of the mic. These should be connected to an audio interface device that supports multi-track recording. With multi-track recording, the editing is a whole lot easier.
If you’re wanting video for an in-person recording, there are a few options:
- Connect your mic directly to a DSLR camera using an XLR adapter/preamp. Options include something like the BeachTek DXA-5Da XLR Audio Adapter or juicedLink RA333 Preamp.
- An investment in equipment similar to that used by Joe Rogan.
- Professional studio rental.
- You could use Zoom. However, the video this provides is of the participant or gallery only, so it negates the benefits of meeting in-person when it comes to video.
6. Keep the editing tight
Most podcasters or roundtable guests like chatting, but most listeners aren’t into banter or in-jokes. Cut out what you’d always cut out—the umms, ahhs, stuttering, or repetition. Remove anything that doesn’t fit or is a digression. But be careful to let the discussion sound natural.
Many podcast listeners will go through a back catalogue if they enjoy a show or find an episode that contains information they want. No listener wants to hear a preamble about the summer blockbuster that was a hit five years ago, or how shocked you are about election results that are now ancient history.
Do you have a roundtable discussion that you’d like to turn into a podcast? Reach out to Podmotion.co for a free consultation!