Podcasts are one of the easiest ways to consume content these days, wherever you are: commuting to work on the tube, cleaning the kitchen, taking your dog for a walk, you can simply plug in and listen to whatever you like. However easy this may be, the one question that can burden podcast creators is – how do you keep a podcast engaging? How do you keep that person on their way to work absorbed in your words until their arrival? How do you keep the person cleaning their kitchen so engrossed with content that the nightmare of cleaning that dirty oven seems like nothing! This is what podcasts need to achieve. Anyone can talk into a microphone and then upload it as a ‘podcast’, but how do you keep it creative, entertaining and gripping?
Let’s take a look.
Focusing on a specific target audience
When starting a podcast it’s easy to think numbers, numbers, numbers, and targeting as many individuals as you can is the best way to go. However, whatever it is you’re talking about, it’s impossible that every single person who is going to listen to your content is going to enjoy and feel entertained by what it is you’re providing them with. Focusing on a niche and target audience will allow you to build up a loyal following of listeners. Make it clear what the creative direction of your podcast is and you will attract the right kind of people. Use social media to share your message and drive engagement towards the podcast content.
Choose a topic that you are passionate about or have a lot of knowledge on.
As a podcast host, picking a subject simply because you think it is popular, or that it will attract a lot of listeners, is definitely the wrong way to go. Listeners can sense when you are talking about something you are truly interested in, and the more you talk about the topics that truly speak to you, the more they will speak to your listeners too. We all know how much we can talk and how in-depth we can go when something is personal to us, because it is something we are passionate about or that we have a lot of knowledge on. Podcasting is like having a conversation with the listener, and to keep them engaged you need to be talking about something that engages you too. However obscure your topic may be, there are many others who share your feelings, your views, your passion, your sense of humour, and these qualities will resonate and attract a community of like-minded individuals. When a listener is emotionally connected to your podcast, when they see themselves reflected in your topic, this is far more powerful than just relevant and topical content.
Research has shown that people remember stories much better than they remember other information. Listeners can empathise with stories and relate to them, which therefore increases their focus, stories feel much more conversational and real to life. If you are just pushing information onto your listeners throughout the whole podcast, they are likely to lose focus and switch off. Some of the best podcasts use stories to make points, teach lessons, share actionable insights and set them up in a way that they always end with a resolution. When the audience feels like they have learnt something from an engaging story, this will stay with them and they shall remember you for this, as it is a much more real-life interaction, something that would happen with a friend. The audience will feel like they have been let into your personal space and feel connected to you.
There should be three parts to every podcast episode, and those who produce them must handle each one properly for it not just to be satisfying but also to keep your listeners engaged. The job of the beginning: Provides a reason why you should listen, it hooks people with an interesting story or point-of-view that will make their ears perk up at what is said next.
The job of the middle: Keeps people engaged and interested in what’s going on. A good story, tension buildup or resolution can be useful here to make things feel more interesting than they would otherwise have been. You should aim to keep the story moving, as this quote from Alex Blumberg host of the great podcast Start-Up & The Gimlet Acamdemy says:
“In the middle, something new has to happen every 45 to 90 seconds. And by something new I mean a turn in the story or a new idea or the introduction of a new voice or character, a new piece of information, a shift in emotion, even the entrance or exit of music can count.” Alex Blumberg – Gimlet Academy
The ending should wrap up loose ends so there are no uncomfortable surprises when listeners finish your episode – unless you want them hanging around for another one! Speaking about the ending of a podcast producer Alex Blumberg says:
“Hopefully you’ve ended the story in a different place than when you started. You learned something or felt something or told a story went through some transformation. The ending should reflect that but not step on it.” Alex Blumberg – Gimlet Academy
It’s the first podcast, you’ve done heaps of research, you’ve spent hours planning your structure and you feel ready to go! In order to have an engaging podcast, it is vital that you maintain the same energy and passion that you had for your first podcast across the whole podcast series – maintain the eagerness, be constantly evolving, and learning – consistency is key! However much knowledge you may think you have, it is vital that you are constantly learning in order to keep your podcast refreshing and new.
Improve your skills
The content you are sharing is not enough to keep your audience engaged and intrigued. To create worthy content you need to always be improving your skills to make sure that you are delivering professionally and producing an excellent podcast that is going to draw people in. Work on improving your writing, research, delivery and editing skills to always be enhancing your podcast. You might add a video podcast, change your podcast format or how you conduct guest interviews; you might change from a weekly podcast to a daily show or vice versa. The more you work on your skills, the more fluidity and confidence you will have in yourself – therefore creating great engaging podcasts.
Use your feedback to improve
The success of your podcast relies heavily on the response of your listener. It is easy to get carried away and only present the podcast in the particular way you like. However, without listening to what it is that most resonates and speaks to your audience, you are setting yourself up for failure. It isn’t just about producing an episode and then packing up for the day, no, you need to listen to your audience, you need to look at the data – on what episodes are they higher and on what episodes are they lower? What do they say in the comments? What is working the best? If you take the time to look at this and listen to what people have to say, you are on the road to building a successful podcast, trust, and a community of like-minded individuals.
Go the extra mile and be a place of help and education
Whatever it is you decide to base your podcast on, it is nearly impossible to cover everything all in one 40 minute episode. Your audience is listening to you for a reason: because they want to know more about the topic you are speaking on, and at the end of the episode they may still require further information. Be the guide and assistance to help them in offering credible resources. The more helpful you are to your listeners, the more valuable you will become to them and the more memorable your podcast will be.
If you want to learn more about creating engaging content please leave a comment or book a FREE discovery call