A press release just came out from ON24 (you can link to it from our summary page of webinar-related news stories and press releases on the main website). They are apparently jumping on the bandwagon of providing more services for the podcast market.
For those of you not following the general tech buzz these days, a podcast is an audio-only broadcast designed to be distributed over the Internet as an MP3 audio file. It can be downloaded to an Apple iPod (thus the coined name) or other digital audio player for playback at the listener's convenience. Of course you can play it directly on your computer as well.
This opens up an interesting can of worms for companies attempting to reach a wider market. It makes sense for audio-oriented webcasts such as corporate earnings reports and other official business. But most marketing and product-related webcasts rely on the use of visual material to hold audience attention, clarify the subject matter, and emphasize key points. Having access only to the audio track of such a presentation can be frustrating at best and confusing or counter-productive at worst. Think about listening to your favorite television show with the picture off.
If you are considering going this route, proper preparation becomes doubly important. You must carefully script and practice your audio content to make sure you are not making embedded references to material your podcast audience can't see. Speaker training also becomes an absolute necessity. You have turned yourself into a radio production, and the quality of your vocal presentation is going to determine the effectiveness of your communication.
In my early years, I worked a bit in the advertising industry. My father has been in the business most of his life. Whenever we watched television commercials he would point out the dual nature of the medium. You need to produce something that is equally powerful for someone who mutes the sound on their set between program segments and someone who leaves the room to fix a sandwich and can only hear the ad. Most agencies are woeful at this. It's a hard task. I will be happy to help you work on your presentation to ensure it has the maximum power in both visual and audible communication channels.
And now, just to show I can be a nice guy, I'll share with you my favorite podcast series... Ricky Gervais (creator and star of the original British version of the TV series "The Office") does a weekly half-hour audio presentation with his long-time collaborator Stephen Merchant and a strangely off-kilter acquaintance of theirs named Karl Pilkington, who has become the star of the show. The audio files are available in MP3 format from The Guardian. Very funny stuff indeed.