PG Podcast: video conversations with interesting people I know
July 2016 (perspective of an assistant professor)
I love listening to interview-style podcasts, so this summer I decided to launch my own podcast series.
The setup is ultra-simple: I start a Skype video chat session and record it using Skype recorder software. We usually talk for anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
[Outdated as of 2019 since it no longer exists: I start a YouTube Live Event (formerly called Google+ Hangout on Air) where my guest and I chat one-on-one for around 30–45 minutes. YouTube automatically records and uploads a video of the session.]
Some guests will come on because they have something specific to talk about. For others, I simply tell them to come prepared to discuss:
These simple guidelines ensure that we don't just make mundane small-talk or react to ephemeral news events, memes, or fads. (These are the same heuristics that I follow in my own writing.)
I want each podcast episode to feel like an actual real-life conversation, not a formal interview. This is why I tell my guests not to prepare any notes beforehand, and not to even tell me what they plan to discuss before we start. Thus, I'm often genuinely surprised by what they choose to talk about on-air!
I also don't come in with any pre-prepared questions. We just turn on the recording and go wherever the conversation takes us. Most notably, we don't start with mundane personal introductions like “please tell the audience a bit about your background.” We just start chatting, and the proper context gets filled in throughout the natural course of our conversation.
From personal experience, I've found 30–45 minutes to be the sweet spot for keeping the conversation energetic and on topic while ensuring enough time to get into some level of depth. (For some repeat guests I do ~1 hour.)
Other logistical notes for my guests: