What Makes a Great Webcast?

April 15, 2010 in Design

I’m a big fan of webcasts (video podcasts).  I have my favorites in various categories that I watch regularly. My viewing pattern is somewhat different from watching standard TV shows or something like that. I tend to have a show running in the background while I’m doing something else.

In monitoring my own viewing pattern and thirst for more quality webcasts on the internet, I’ve started to identify a few things that a modern webcast needs to have for heavy user engagement:

What constitutes a well executed webcast:

  1. A good, energetic host. He or she doesn’t have to be likable, you don’t even need to agree with him, he just needs to be energetic and he needs to keep things moving at a fast pace.
  2. Live shows. When you have a live show, your audience can participate, submit questions, point out if something is wrong, etc. It makes the person who’s watching feel as if they’re a part of the show. Doing it through a service like justin.tv or ustream.tv is great, because it takes the hassle out of the whole thing and your user might have an account there already.
  3. Different formats. In addition to serving your video as a flash video window on your site, it’s also vital to provide  an audio only version, downloadable version and even a couple of different resolutions, since you have no idea how your users are going to be viewing the show.
  4. Transcription or at least some good show notes. If you have a transcription of the show after it has been recorded it will help you in so many ways. It will help your show rank up in search engines, you might be mentioning links in the show somewhere, some users might have a problem hearing/understanding some of the voices in the show, etc. It will do you good.
  5. Good sound. People listen more to webcasts than they watch, so the sound is much more important than the video. (However, a tip for good video: Lighting)

What you shouldn’t do

  1. Make the show longer than about an hour. It gets hard just to find the time to watch the show and it usually doesn’t mean more actual content, so the show gets more chatty and usually just very very boring. Keep it short.
  2. Mention things that are hard to type or remember without posting them in the show notes.

What do you think makes for a great webcast?