For the last several years, I’ve been doing mobile podcasting on-the-fly as well as in a studio. I must say that I prefer the spontaneous mobile ones much more. Without the overhead of prep – which often turns out to be unnecessary primping, anyway – it’s almost zero effort, and all about fun. Plus, the information in those short, simple podcasts is often more useful and direct.
One of the best places to gather this type of content is at events. People are excited, there’s plenty of interview opportunities, and the energy really translates well.
Here are my top tips for how to do your own mobile podcasting at events.
Don’t bring a bunch of equipment.
Besides the fact that it isn’t technically necessary (see below), people can often feel intimidated by having a microphone or something too formal shoved in their faces. Plus, sitting down in a corner, with a laptop and headsets, etc. is sometimes impossible with the people you’d like to record. And even if they do take the time, the major advantage of the situation is lost, because it’s suddenly not spontaneous.
I do all of my mobile audio (and sometimes, video) podcasting now on my Samsung Galaxy SIII Android phone. I find this phone to be incredibly powerful, the screen is quite large, and the microphone gives excellent sound quality. Nobody can believe I do these on a phone.
Here’s a sample: listen to ‘Sample: Mobile Event Podcasting’ on Audioboo
Do audio as much, or more than, video.
Video of someone famous or wearing an extra cool accessory or outfit, costume, etc. is hard to pass up. But for the rest of your observations, audio is much easier. Always accompany your audio with plenty of still photographs. If necessary, have a buddy snapping shots while you just do the talking. You can always upload both later. I love using the free service at Audacity for its immediacy, it’s ease of use on a cell phone, and its connection to social media. One recording, done with only my cell phone, is immediately uploaded and simultaneously broadcast to my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. You’d be amazed how simple it is!
Don’t plan to edit.
Editing is simply not possible when you’re on the road, at a major event. It prevents you from capturing the spirit of the moment. And, who wants to spend their evenings in their hotel room editing video or audio, instead of hanging out at trade show parties? For interviewees, this can be a real struggle, as most people will ask me, “You’re going to edit out all the umm’s and ahh’s, right?” When I say nope, it’s going live right away, they can sometimes panic.
Here’s a suggested compromise: promise to keep it short, and do a second take if they’re not happy with it. You can also agree first what you’re going to talk about to ease nerves. I have a little script that I repeat for each person, which is basically, “OK, so I’m going to do a brief intro of you, myself, and where we are, and then I’m going to ask you these two questions, and I’ll point my finger at you when I’d like you to start talking. You might want to mention A and B. We’re going to try and keep it under 5 minutes total, and preferably 90 seconds. How does that sound?” That usually makes them smile and relax. They know it’s not serious – it’s fun.
Keep it to 5 minutes or less, 90 seconds if you can.
For audio on Audacity, the free account is limited to 5 minutes anyway, which seems to be just right. Let’s face it – people get bored and itchy, and they don’t want to listen much longer than that. If you can’t tell the important points in 5 minutes, you need to re-think your interview. 90 Seconds? You’re a podcasting deity.
Advertise your intent.
Walking around a trade show wearing a custom-printed t-shirt has worked for me for years. (“Want to be interviewed? Talk to me!”) Be sure to also have on hand business cards with your cell phone number. Often, shows or un-conferences have a common-use whiteboard placed in a public area. Be sure to post on that with your Twitter ID, inviting people to tweet you if they’d like to be interviewed. Be sure to Tweet about once an hour, using the show hashtag, that you’re available for interviews – your tweet will display on public twitter screens at the conference. Word gets around – mention it to an organizer or volunteer or people at a display table, and do it at their administrative location, interviewing the conference organizers. Invite them to tweet it out by sharing your centralized link where all your podcasts can be found, which is, of course, on the business cards you hand out at the show.
Bring a small supply bag.
Mine contains: mints, cough drops, tissues, business cards, and some sort of thank-you for people who agree to talk to me. Usually I bring a bag of Ferrero-Rochers and offer one to people afterwards as I say, “Thanks so much for letting me corner you! I really appreciated it.” Trust me, everyone loves sugar at a trade show.
My podcasting motto is to keep it “tight and light” – no long diatribes, and no heavy stuff to lug around. Do this at a couple of conventions, and you’ll get a reputation. At least, I think that’s why I have a reputation…