Champions Co-creation Digifest Top tips

Podcasting at the Digifest community hub

With plenty inspiring education and research communities, the community hub at Digifest 2024 introduced a podcast area to capture conversations about what motivates them. In this blog, learn how with the support of Jisc community champions, we prepared the podcasts and tips so you can try your own.

Shot of a screen highlighting the community hub area at Digifest 2024 The podcast buzz

Hosting podcasts during the conference was a new (and admittedly terrifying) experience for me. Who honestly enjoys listening to their own voice? Podcasts are infamous for creating a light touch way for people to spend time with you on their terms. But hosting a quality conversation does not happen easily.

Jisc’s community champions Jamie Giarraputo (digital education consultant at Birbeck, University of London) and Steff Tinsley (quality improvement specialist) suggested hosting podcasts in Digifest’s main hall. The podcasts would learn about community achievements amid the bustle of interactions and curious walkers by. I had never recorded an interview style podcast and was a little nervous, so we planned together.

Choosing your format and tone

Podcasts come in a range of formats; interviews, monologues, panel discussions to storytelling and docu-dramas. Knowing the format will help you plan.

The community hub podcast would encourage relaxed, short-form conversations between two to four Digifest guests. The tone would be educational and inspirational. We wanted to hear about education hot topics, community stories and experiences. With so much to learn and celebrate, we wanted to capture the passion and impact behind them. It can be scary to talk so creating a relaxed and inviting atmosphere was key.

Know your niche, topics, and questions

With the format in mind what will you talk about? What will you offer listeners to pique their interest? Not surprisingly, the community hub focused on education and research hot topics and your communities. We prepared (optional) prompt questions to guide the conversations.

Community activity and achievements

  • What activity happens in your community?
  • What tools do you use?
  • What are you proud of?

The Digifest experience

  • What brought you to Digifest?
  • What have you learnt?
  • What has been a highlight?

Chloe Hynes and PhilWhitehead sat down at a stand, talking on a podcast at Digifest 2024

Put active listening to the test

The role of the host is to ask great questions, but equally to listen. How you approach this makes the world of difference. Be fully present, listen carefully to reflect what you hear and check your understanding. Be curious. You may need to formulate questions on the fly, so the better you listen, the more clear and direct your questions will be.

Match the equipment to your means

Not every podcast needs fancy equipment. An iPhone in a quiet room can work perfectly. As we were hosting in the main hall with background noise, we hired a sound mixer, two switch mics with stands, and a solid-state recorder to get the best quality.

Carolina Barnes talking on a podcast at Digifest 2024

The experience on the day

Hosting podcasts created a wonderful opportunity to interact with Digifest guests in a new way. My biggest takeaway is to not aim for perfection. Instead, embrace small experiments and try short-form podcasts to test and build your confidence. When I stopped worrying about exactly how I would respond, and focused on building an authentic connection with guests, the conversations were immense fun.

Jamie Giarraputo, who hosted four of the podcasts, also reflects on the experience:

“Podcasting is such a powerful tool; whether to gain insight, knowledge, or to find more about an individual’s journey. Podcasts allow flexibility and access to content 24/7 … They are a constant loop of learning. Podcasting within the community hub was a unique experience. The atmosphere was fantastic and there was a real buzz around the whole hub in general.”

Jo and Kirsty talking at stand for a podcast at Digifest 2024

What are the factors for success?

  1. Preparation 📑 
    • Know your format and tone.
    • Will you prepare questions or free flow?
    • Choose the right equipment to suit your budget and needs and, most importantly, test it.
    • Conduct research about the topic.
  2. Set expectations for the host and guests⏰
    • How long will it take?
    • How will guests use the equipment?
  3. Make your guests comfortable 🥰
    • When possible, research the guest so you tailor the questions.
    • Listen carefully, be curious to help you ask great questions.
    • Smile and have fun.
  4. Collaborate and work as a team 🤝
    • Planning with support of your community and having different hosts takes the burden off an individual and will provide more chance of success.

Thank you to all the champions, internal community manager’s, Digifest speakers, relationship managers, advice team, and Jisc support staff who made this happen. 🤩🙏📢

You can save the community hub playlist via our Jisc SoundCloud page or listen via the links below.

Artificial intelligence

Community hub podcast: AI at Digifest with Carolina Barnes and Kirsty Ingleson

Community hub podcast: AI at Digifest with Jo Fletcher-Saxon and Kirsty Tate

Community hub podcast: supporting Wales AI and XR communities w/ Catherine Evans & Tiberiu Dancovici

Extended reality

Community hub podcast: exploring XR with Jamie Giarraputo and Arron Mistry

Community hub podcast: exploring VR with Jisc’s community champions

Community hub podcast: VR and the Digifest experience with Jamie Giarraputo and Toby Butler

Learning and teaching

Community hub podcast: keeping community human with Chloe Hynes and Phil Whitehead 

Community hub podcast: improving digital literacy with Carolina Barnes and Constance Henry

Community hub podcast: the new digital storytelling community


Community hub podcast: community and research with Carolina Barnes and Puiyin Wong

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