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How to make a podcast

Authors: Mr Jonothan Earnshaw, BJS Academy Director, semi-retired Consultant Vascular Surgeon.

With audio content is becoming a preferred mode of learning, here is the BJS Academy podcast on how to make a podcast. Listen to the podcast or read the article:

This is a podcast about, well, how to make a podcast. I have been making podcasts for about 10 years to advertise and promote the BJS, British Journal of Surgery and its output of surgical science. More recently I’ve been promoting BJS Academy, an educational website for surgeons worldwide. My podcasts usually describe new material on the sites, and act as a teaser to try and encourage surgeons to access the published material. The aim of this podcast is to tell you how I make a podcast quickly and easily. I expect to be able to make a five to 10 minute podcast in little over an hour from start to finish.

Podcasts are made for many different reasons. Lots of people listen to them every day for entertainment and many celebrities make them for their fans and to promote their own work and ideas. In surgery, more and more people are making podcasts to enhance their surgical research. My interest is in the education and training of surgeons by disseminating and discussing surgical scientific research. So that’s my focus making podcasts. Obviously that’s different from popular podcasts made by celebrities for you to listen to in the car or on the train. So this podcast will focus on promoting surgical science, by providing a snapshot of what is available with recommendations about what to read..

Before you record a podcast it requires a little thought. Obviously you have to have something to say, and you need to define the group of people that you are planning to talk to. When I make podcasts, I make them as if I am talking directly to a single person. I tend to make podcasts that last for five to 10 minutes, as after this the attention span seems to wane. You can get a surprising amount of information into 10 minutes, and you can provide signposts to other areas for reading or listening.

I start by making a list of things I want to say: scientific articles I want to discuss or promote, observations I think are new and interesting, where possible. I think listeners of surgical podcasts want to know about  new and exciting research, but they also value the insights you can offer either as a researcher or simply as a clinical surgeon. Providing a personal opinion is one way of keeping your listeners coming back again.

I then make myself a script. I usually find about two sides of A4 makes a 10 minute podcast. It’s important to remember that many of the people who listen to a surgical podcast do not have English as a first language. So your sentences should be short and words should be as simple as possible. Colloquialisms and local idioms should not be used. When speaking, I usually aim to be a little slower than for normal speech and be as clear as possible. I also try to be cheerful and vary the pitch of my voice. A flat monotone can be boring.

Next, I rehearse the  script. I usually read it through a couple of times and make a few corrections; then I’m ready to record. I use the voice memo function on my iPhone, which is easy to manage.  Using the new recording function, I start reading the podcast. I always begin by introducing myself and then state exactly what the podcast is about, what it will contain and how long it will last. If you fail to catch the listener in the first 30 seconds, I think they will simply move on to something else. Next, I deliver the rest of the script. If I make a big mistake I stop and start again. Minor errors are acceptable and do not affect the listener’s appreciation of the podcast. I try to record the podcast all in one go, to avoid having to edit it, and it may take 2 or 3 attempts. I end the podcast by thanking the listeners, and remind them about any important messages, such as when the next podcast will be available.

Once you are happy with the recording, it can be sent by email to your own inbox and then on to wherever it is to be published or hosted, perhaps BJS Academy? I always listen to the podcast all the way through before I send it off to make sure there were no obvious mistakes or recording glitches. Material received at the BJS Academy will be loaded onto the website, from where it is free to download. We also advertise the podcast on twitter/X and Linkdin; other social media sites are also available, if the target audience is found elsewhere. It’s also a good idea to tag where any original material discussed on the podcast to can be found when promoting it on social media. If you want a wider audience, you might consider loading it onto Spotify or i-tunes, and even adding a jingle at the beginning or end.

In the good old days a surgeon would write their paper, send it to a journal and wait for people to read it when it dropped through their letterbox. In the digital age, if you want your paper to be as widely seen as possible, it is also up to you to promote it. Among other things such as visual abstracts and blogs, a podcast is a very economical method. And it may be fun to do.

Once you made a few,  it takes no more than an hour to make a 10 minute podcast, and is a great way of advertising and promoting surgical research, and well worth the time taken. Anyone who would like to make a surgical podcast is welcome to send it to be considered for hosting on the BJS Academy website – contact details are available on the site.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this quick instruction manual. It’s now time for you to try. Good luck with your own effort to make a podcast, and thank you very much for listening.                                                                                                                    


Part of the charitable activity of the Foundation, BJS Academy is an online educational resource for current and future surgeons.

The Academy is comprised of five distinct sections: Continuing surgical education, Young BJS, Cutting edge, Scientific surgery and Surgical news. Although the majority of this is open access, additional content is available to BJS subscribers and strategic partners.

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