A podcast is a bit like a book.
It’s based on:
- a universe ✨ (subject area? time period? place? fiction or non-fiction?)
- characters 😁 you (if you speak), your guests, your listeners
- and, above all, a message 👋 to convey, an intention that inspires you.
Do you write to relax, for enjoyment, to inform or to convey specific values? All these things? When writing a book, the clearer the intent, the easier the rest becomes! The same goes for your podcast. 🤓
In the “Generation Do It Yourself” podcast, Matthieu Stefani had a very clear intention: introducing us to inspiring people, successful entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, etc., so several elements of its DNA stem from this:
- his guests, of course, in congruence with his intention,
- a public love of these kinds of meetings, of interactions with no filters,
- but also long episodes with real conversations and digressions that align with these elements and with Mathieu’s intention.
So you need to think about working hard on each aspect: the universe, the characters and the message will allow you to build your DNA. Some of them are probably obvious to you: the universe for example, if your podcast deals with a specific subject area.
Defining your message: the first step
You’re writing to have an effect. To relax, to have fun, to inform… Your listener will move from point A to point B because of your episodes. How will this impact them? How will they feel before, during and after? 🤔
In her “Build Yourself” podcast, Safia Gourari addresses various themes: web entrepreneurship, podcasting, entrepreneurial life, inspiring paths and personal development.
But no episode stands out from the others because its message is simple: “It doesn’t take much to change”. She helps listeners create a better life with the things they have at their disposal. All these themes are part of its DNA! 🔥
If you take pleasure in creating your episode, your listener will take pleasure in listening to you.
Expressing your DNA with a magic pen 🖊️
Many podcasters never even pondered DNA before launching their podcast because they chose the universe, characters and message based on THEIR personality, tone and values.
Every word they write is written by a “magic pen” (kind of like the magic wand in Harry Potter: it’s unique!).
In her “Une Histoire” podcast, Bemvinda Khang talks about storytelling first and foremost… but with a special magic pen.
- Themes for her episodes (from Season One were: Be yourself, to give you an idea),
- a quiet and peaceful atmosphere, sometimes with music,
- and a tone that’s sometimes very intimate and direct, with emotion.
1) Create a “list of magic words” that best illustrate the effect, the people, etc…and if you get stuck, how about a mind map of words?
2) Write down ten words that symbolize your DNA. The ones you repeat most often, for example!
3) Answer the following questions:
- Which words are used: your listeners when they’re faced with your issue, you when you encounter a problem, you when you’re reassuring others?
- What are some funny, interesting or otherwise unknown details about yourself that could you integrate into your universe?
- What would the typical reaction of your listeners be if you: solved their problem, told them an incredible fact, tried to convince them to go kill a dragon (sorry, writer’s block. I meant do something crazy).
In my podcast, le Café des Auteurs, I wanted to propose a writing break for the authors who listen to me, but also to reassure them, because when you start writing a book, you can feel lost.
My introduction starts out as, “Welcome to le Café des Auteurs, the podcast for aspiring writers and creators who are lost in the jungle of conflicting advice“. It means everything to a beginning author who doesn’t know which way to turn.
And in episode 13 “To Write and Be Published, You Need to Change Your Thoughts”, I drew a comparison between Harry Potter 6 and “Liquid Luck”. A large number of my listeners grew up with that! And it fits very well with my uninhibited literary magic pen.
And what about giving first-person storytelling a try?
What do Harry Potter, Narnia, The Truth About Harry Quebert Affair, The Ants and 50 Shades of Grey have in common? All of these bestsellers are written from what we call the first person point of view.
In other words, reading them means putting yourself in the protagonist’s shoes, experiencing the events with them, reading their thoughts, feeling what they feel… 🤔
Imagine the reactions of your listeners listening to an episode where you go against the conventional wisdom of your subject area. How can you reassure them?
Now write it down or record it directly.
Now that you’ve worked it all out, do what writers do: forget everything, disconnect, put yourself in front of a Word page and try to write for ten minutes straight. 🚀 When you’ve finished with that, take a break for a few minutes and then repeat the exercise. This will allow you to let your ideas stew while you take action! 💪
Remember: The clearer your intention is, the easier the rest becomes
I now recommend that you take a break for a few days.
In my podcast, le Café des Auteurs, I wrote a very personal and powerful episode retracing my steps: It took me several weeks to find the right formulas. But when I published the episode and received feedback from the people for whom I’d prompted deep questions, even tears, I knew I was right to take my time! 😁
Taking a step back sometimes allows you to get back to the intention you had with your podcast, to reconnect to your DNA or maintain the essence of it.
Finally, re-read the text of your episode with Marie Kondo in mind: Keep what brings you joy! 😉
So let’s recap!
- 💪 Work on each aspect: The universe, the characters and the message of your podcast allow you to establish your DNA and blend it all into a harmonious whole.
- If you’re having a hard time defining your message: what’s the effect you’d like to have on your listener?
- 🖊️ To express your DNA, use what I call the “magic pen” .
- Write as you feel, and then step away so you can return to your episode through the benefit of hindsight.
And one last thing: Before I end this article, I’d like to share my mantra which I repeat to aspiring authors, but which works well with any type of content: If you take pleasure in creating your episode, your listeners will take pleasure in listening to it!
Ingrid has created “J’Écris un Roman”, an online writing school that allows you not only to write books but also to find your magic pen in order to create content with staying power! To learn more, visit her website: https://jecrisunroman.frIndependentsprofessionals