Are you an avid podcast listener? If so, you might just have the one thing you need to start a successful podcast. Listening is an integral part of taking in information, and in turn, relaying that information to others. Podcasts are one of the best ways to get your voice out there and reach people with the same values and goals as you. Podcast veterans, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard, share with us how being a podcast listener allows you to learn the basics of podcast interactions and make you a successful podcast host. Listen in and learn more as Tom and Tracy talk about the specific factors that can make you and your podcast a success.
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Why Does Being A Podcast Listener Boost Your Chance Of Being A Successful Podcast Host?
I thought we would talk about something that I’m often surprised to hear from podcasters out there.
Why are you surprised?
Maybe I shouldn’t be by now but often, I am surprised to hear how few podcasters hosts I’m talking about and a lot of you out there don’t listen to podcasts.
May I say that when I first met you, Tom, no? When we first started this, you were not a podcast listener either. It’s not that uncommon. I come across it day after day when I do interviews.
Even though let’s say you don’t listen to podcasts in general, I find a lot of podcasters don’t ever listen to their own podcasts, even if they are not a real avid podcast listener themselves.
They haven’t listened back to their own show. Now we are going to talk about why being a podcast listener can boost your chance of being a podcast host success. We are looking at the things that might make you a success if you are a listener as well. We are looking at those factors that you might want to consider. If you are not a podcast listener up until this point, now is a great time to try some of these things and listen for some of the things that we are talking about, both in your own show and in other people’s shows, especially competitive shows.
1 or 2 of these might also be more of something we are suggesting not to do to be successful than it is to do something specific to be successful.
I’m going to let you do them the not-to-do list.
Why don’t we do that? Mine is a little more on the technical, tactical side of things and maybe Tracy tends to be more of the creative or strategic side of things. Intro length, number one. For those of you that are new and starting up a podcast with us, we are going to be recommending this with you but for people that are already out there with a show, it always surprises me how many existing podcasters I talk to considering working with us. I listen to their show because I want to understand what it’s about. How long their intro is often surprised me, I’m like, “Have you listened to your own intro?”
This is a common mistake. I hear it again and again from people who were set up by certain types of “gurus.” The ones who come out and are branding experts, who decided that they are also podcasting experts, are following a brand and publicity model, thinking you can cram that into podcasting and it doesn’t work well if your goal is to get listeners. If your goal is to do this solely for PR purposes, maybe it’s fine but the reality is at the end of the day, don’t you want to get some listeners, too?
That goes in more depth if you feel that’s important but when people are listening episode after episode to you or haven’t been able to listen for a few weeks, driving from LA to Las Vegas, they’ve got a 3 to 4-hour drive, they are going to binge-listen to a bunch of episodes. I have been driving at the wheel doing that because that’s honestly one of the times I like to listen to podcasts the most is when I’m on a long drive.
I haven’t been doing a lot of long driving or long flights but I binge-listen when I’m driving. Sometimes I’m shaking the wheel and I’m like, “Come on already. I’m tired of this.” I don’t want to have to reach while I’m driving to push a button to skip ahead 30 seconds, which you can do with some apps. It’s not very safe to do while you are driving. Binge listeners want to hear an intro and know they’ve got to the right place.
Binge listeners are your most valuable listeners. They are the ones who had you in their ear for so long that you have become a friend to them. You want to satisfy and make your friends happy. Thinking about that in the process is important. The other part of it that we hear is when I have talked to podcasters who have over 100 episodes and decided to change their intro and made it shorter. They hear back from their all audience, “I love the new intro. It’s great.” That’s the first opportunity to know, “You were bugging them.” They weren’t expressing it but you were bugging them. That is an indicator of how important this can be to the satisfaction of your show.
Here’s another factor and I want to make it clear here. What we are talking about is the pre-recorded intro for your show that’s the same every time. We are not talking about you as the host coming in and introducing what this episode is about. That’s entirely different and that can be as long as you want. That’s not an issue because it’s new every time. It’s unique.
@podetize Why still listen to podcasts as a podcaster? #podcasting #podcastingtips #podetize #learnontiktok #fyp ♬ original sound – Podetize
The other reason that we think that over time we have heard from binge listeners would prefer shorter intros is because, as podcast hosts, usually we have chosen the style of music that we are using in the intro. We have chosen that voiceover artist’s voice based on what we like as the host. It’s our show. We can do whatever we want. That’s great.
The problem is with tens of thousands of listeners out there, the reality is not everybody has the same taste in music and impressions that our voiceover artist is going to make on them. It’s very unlikely that you are going to have a pre-recorded intro that’s going to appeal to everybody and they are all going to like it. In some ways, the shorter, the better because if they don’t like it, they get through it quickly. You are not annoying and bothering them. You are going to get on with the show.
One more thing, if your show is a short show under fifteen minutes, your intro needs to be even shorter, 10 to 15 seconds. Do not waste time on a short episode with long intros. You are going to annoy your audience in that process because a lot of them listen to it at double speed. That makes it at a seven-minute episode. It’s not in service to your goals of getting to the heart of a message if you are doing those short episodes, and then having a long intro. It makes no sense, so keep it short.
Audio quality, people that are working with us to start up a podcast, we are making sure your audio quality is great. I’m talking with a prospect on the phone who booked a call with me, wanted to find out what we are all about, what we do. I listen to a show before the call is what I do. I want to be able to understand where they are at in their podcasting journey and see how we can support them.
I’m shocked to hear people recording their episodes and the host is using nothing more than the built-in microphone to their laptop. Hearing all of the echo and ambient noise going on, that’s going to be very annoying to an audience. If they hear that at the beginning, they may not give the show much of a chance unless they like the content but even then, they are going to struggle with it at times.Being a good listener will help you become successful because you'll understand how to get to a point quicker or go even slower. Click To Tweet
Audio quality is important to at least get it to a certain minimum level. I’m not saying you need to go into a recording studio. You can do it in your home or office but you need a good quality microphone. Under $100 microphone can be fantastic. We’ve got a post on FeedYourBrand.co about microphones, where I reviewed and tested a bunch of them. You can listen to a bunch of them, and decide what you might like and there are links to where you can get them on Amazon.
We are not talking about sound studio quality necessary because the quality of the listening is not quite at that level. It’s being transferred, translated, and fed back to you via your earbuds and whatever. As a listener, your experience is never going to be that beautiful, amazing, top-quality surround sound or something like that.
You don’t have to record at that level but what you do need to do at record is recording at a decent level. This annoys Tom to no end. Every night on the news, he starts yelling at some of the broadcasters and the people who are still doing some at-home spots. Get a good mic because of the echo in their environments. The fact that a lot of them are using those ridiculous-looking AirPods, which look stupid coming out of their head and on top of it, mixes up the microphone.
A lot of times, they have a mistake, they don’t even realize it. They expect to use the microphone on their computer or maybe a microphone they had plugged in. Instead, the AirPods is overriding that because it happens so often that people don’t realize that the minute they put those things on the microphone shifts. They have messed it up. The sound quality can be echoey and bad.
This is what I hear most from listeners and from posts who got improved their sound. First off, listeners are willing to be there with you when you are in the beginning. They get it. You are a new show. You are learning things and you are going to realize it but if you are going to dozens of shows without realizing how bad your sound is, they get frustrated and quit your show.
The thing that they don’t like is different sound levels, the sound going up, down, and all over the place, bad echoing, and background noise. Those are the things that they get frustrated the most by because it hurts their head and ears. Those are the simple things that are problematic with the sound levels. For the most part, most of you, if you’ve got a decent mic, double-check it before you start recording. You guys are going to be fine. That’s good enough quality and the simple, long, and short of it right on the audio quality part, Tom.
My other big one is too much focused on a guest. Guests as a part of your show format can be a wonderful thing.
It’s your show strategy. It’s important. I have been talking a lot about the prospect pipeline and when I have been giving presentations out there, this is an important part of your strategy. If you are too overly guest-focused, it can harm the listenability of your show.
Guests are important for many reasons. I won’t go over why now, but the thing is if it’s all about the guest and if all you are as a host is a conduit to the guest, they don’t hear from you, your opinion and thoughts, did you think that interview was good? Did you like what they had to say? Do you agree or not agree with everything they said? When a host is on interviewing a guest, you want to be polite to them. You don’t want to maybe necessarily challenge and contradict them.
It’s very important that you have a part of your show format if you are not going to do it with the guest and have maybe a little more candid conversation than you would because you wanted to be polite. It’s important that you have a section of your show where you are letting your audience know what you think. Did you enjoy that interview?Listen to shows from people who are more like you, more at that same stage that you are in. Click To Tweet
You call it a wrap-up and have your final thoughts, whatever that might be. There are three issues with being overly gratuitous with your guest, being all about them, gushing about them because you are trying to build a relationship with them. A problem with that is you don’t dive deep enough. You don’t ask those deeper questions because you are afraid you might trip on the controversial answer or something they didn’t want to comment on.
The second thing is it allows the guest to control the conversation and very often, they will drop into sound bites. When they drop into sound bites, they are saying the same thing on your show that they said everywhere else. When that happens, the listeners tune out because they are like, “I have already heard this guy. I’m not going to listen to it again.”
The third thing that happens when you don’t control the show is you aren’t controlling your topic and you are in controlling for your audience and your topic. Whether that’s your area of expertise, in selling, real estate or whatever it is, when you let it veer all personal or all development and you don’t head into, “Why is this relevant to a real estate investor listener or a health and wellness listener? Why isn’t it relevant to them? What is it about it that can make it relevant?” You are not asking those questions and moving the conversation there, then it’s just another interview or Q&A. That’s not what they are there for. They have chosen your show because you have a topic and an interesting area, expertise or curiosity maybe.
Don’t be afraid to express that. We have 600 plus episodes of one of our shows. We interviewed a lot of people. Not every episode was an interview episode. Maybe I don’t even know if half were because for a while, we were doing 1 interview a week and 4 other episodes a week but it changed at one point. In all those interviews, there were often times I didn’t have the same opinion.
I didn’t feel the same way about the subject we were talking about as the guest. I made sure to respect them and not to throw them under the bus but your audience does want to hear from you. The more you do that, you establish a better relationship up with your listener. Your guest is there for one show and then they are moving on.
The reality is that if you are in this service mindset of serving my audience first, the guest is not a match to that. You should have asked them on in the beginning and it needs to fall out. It’s in their best interest, too. Although they don’t realize it because PR firms are cramming people onto any podcast they can get them on because it’s easy to get them on a show than it is to get them written in an article.
They are cramming them onto all different shows, whether or not it’s a right fit making sure that you are establishing that right fit and working with that audience curation model in the process. As you ask questions and guide the conversation, you are serving that guest better because you are creating that match that they may have and should have as to why you brought them on the show and why you wanted to talk with them, to begin with, as a prospect. Bringing that relevance together for your audience’s perspective is going to be the most valuable thing you can do for all parties involved.
Tracy, now that we have talked about some things we don’t recommend you do, let’s turn this a little more to the positive side of things. What would you like to contribute or recommend for our readers?
When you get to be a binge listener and you have listened to a lot of podcasts over time, there’s a quality of show you start looking for. There are some characteristics that you can start looking for. It’s different if you are consuming in for marketing information. Let’s say I’m a digital marketer. I’m out there consuming what’s the best practice in social media and what might be some great new SEO things.
I’m consuming content from an information-gathering perspective is completely different from, “I’m trying to be more healthy and grow my portfolio.” Understanding because you are in that perspective of, “I’m creating a show that is for a particular purpose.” You want to be that type of listener. Often, I get people to say, “I’m a listener but I only listen to crime serials.”Bringing that kind of relevance together for your audience's perspective is going to be the most valuable thing you can do. Click To Tweet
That’s not going to help you build a better show. You need to go sit back and listen to shows that are in your category and your type because what you will learn fast is what’s working and what’s not working. You will get bored if it’s not good. If you get bored, you won’t keep listening. You will say, “I have been making that mistake in my show. Let me improve it.”
You are going to get a sense of what flows and what’s good. That’s critically important when you decide, “I want to bring that into my show. I want to try that out.” You will also get a good sense of what’s working in terms of interviewing if you are doing interviews because you will hear some great practices. You will start to build on your knowledge of, “What’s a great opening question? What’s a great way to close after a guest?”
These are some of those awkward moments that you all tell me you have. You have these awkward moments where you are like, “Thank you for being on the show.” You ended it abruptly and weirdly. That is something that you will be able to resolve because you will be able to hear some and say, “I could try that out.” You try it out. Maybe it’s not comfortable for you but it is.
That’s where you will start to fall in a place where you have a great way to open your show and interview, and a great way to close. All those things are going to come from listening to what’s working, what’s good, and shows you like because if you like it, it’s going to resonate with you and it’s probably more likely to be in your style. That’s the way it works out there.
The other thing that you can be successful with by being a good listener is you are going to understand how to get to the point quicker or go even slower because maybe you go too fast. When you listen to compare shows out there and you go, “That was a great show. Their show is a lot slower pace than mine,” maybe that helps people absorb it well because look how good their show is doing.
Maybe you want to dive deep in and you are going to be that contrast, speed demon, and speed queen. As opposed to all the people who are going slower in your category and maybe that’s why people are going to choose you but at least you have chosen it for a reason and purpose. You understand what you are up against and what the difference is.
Slowing down for a dramatic pause can have a big impact. I speak much slower than you do in general and people don’t like that so much. I tend to try not to do that but it’s a good point. The speed at which you speak, especially at different times, can make a big difference.
These are characteristics of shows, listening to those characteristics of the shows, and why you might want to try some of these things for your own purposes. That’s something to consider. The third thing that I have that can make you a success is that you are more likely, by listening to shows and you will get the same thing most of us do.
When I listen to a show and I’m like, “Another interview.” You will get to that place in your own content and you will go, “I’m going to skip and do all the solo shows.” That’s an important part. You may hit and listen to an occasional interviewing. Interviews are extremely important for show growth, prospect pipeline, all of those things but at the end of the day, those solo pieces are what your listening audience wants the most from you.
It is the number one thing from all The Binge Factor interviews I have done. Those that say, “I added solo episodes and my show took off.” I hear it again and again. It doesn’t always work when you are starting because you’ve got to establish your base and authority in the industry. Once you hit over 25 episodes, start to add in solo shows and see how they do.You want to make your friends happy and thinking about that in the process is really important. Click To Tweet
The shows where you are handling a topic and shows like Tom was pointing out before where you want to do that recap after your guest. Maybe you want to do a whole separate show that’s a recap of your thoughts, especially if you are the person who needs to marinate in what you heard and now you want to give a concerted viewpoint and opinion. We have a lot of podcasters who do that.
They are very thought-provoking in what they want. They want to draft out and take time to make bullets. They want to do that quick close of thoughts and recaps. Do it as a separate episode and see how it goes. Often, you will find that as a listener that you discover that and you think, “I should add this to my show.” It can be the biggest success builder that you put into your show is adding in those things because you’re going to start to realize why you chose some of the hosts and shows that you did and the ones you keep coming back to.
We touch shows and listen to shows because they are research but we don’t come back to them again. I have multiple playlists in all of my apps. I listen to multiple apps because the experience is different. When I listen in my Stitcher app, for instance, I have specific playlists for the shows that I’m going to binge-listen to because I know I will come through and I will listen to all their episodes. I will go through them. I have another one for ones that I’m researching and I’m touching on. I have yet another one that’s for clients so that I can check out your shows periodically, hear how you are doing and check in on you.
I have another one for people who make appointments with me. I’ve got to check out their show and give them a strategy but very often, I don’t go back to those ones that are in the research and strategy. If I didn’t move them to my binge-listening app, they are done. I probably will not go back to them unless I’m looking for something specific and an answer to a question. I’m still subscribed.
This can happen to you when you start seeing a boost of subscribers. They don’t stick with you and all your shows aren’t getting it but your occasional solo shows are, you know you are onto something. That’s the best way for you to develop. As a listener, develop what might be the biggest success factor you can bring to your show.
The last thing I want to leave everybody with, Tom, is don’t overcomplicate this. If the shows that you are choosing to listen to are the serials of the world, are the highly produced Wondery shows, you are going to frustrate yourself. What I find from interviewing people who work for iHeart, Wondery and are a host of those shows, they have no real collaboration or contribution to how the shows lay out. Some of them are just script readers. Others get the script and get all the pre-production things that they are supposed to do, and then they do add a little bit of their own flair in it but that’s it.
Yet others, the producers, are structuring the show so that they can highly edit and cut out the things, where they cut out most of the prompts that they give to the host. They might be on the other side, asking the host questions, and then removing those questions and piecing the whole thing together. It’s a highly produced show that you are probably not likely to be able to create yourself. Listen to shows from people who are more like you and at that same stage that you are in, whether it’s a corporate show or a personal show. Is there anything you want to add, Tom?
That comes up for now. The big point here is, you should listen to some other podcasts to get some perspective and you should listen to your own once in a while. I know we don’t like listening to our own voices. I don’t like listening to my voice but once in a while, it’s an important thing to do and we will help you make your show better.
The last thing I want to leave you with is that for those of you who started in the video before, and there are many of you who had video shows, first live streams, and other things or YouTube channels, those are the ones who find when they start listening to podcasts. They change the way they record their videos because they start recognizing the bad habits, the things that make the podcast itself not sound as good as it could. The video is a lot more forgiving than the audio is. You need to become a podcast listener to make sure that your podcast show is as successful as it can be.
That’s a good point, Tracy. That may be a good topic for another episode where we talk about the distinct differences between recording video, audio and if you are going to be doing both. Things to be conscious of because we have experienced that and we do have some customers who I have reviewed their shows and reminded them, “Remember when you are doing this, it’s an audio show too and you may need to acknowledge the elephant in the room on that but in a lot of details.” We should talk about that.
I added it to the list. We will put it on one of our future topics. As always, if you have topics and you have questions for us, things that you would like us to answer on air, feel free to reach out to us at Podetize or Feed Your Brand, anywhere on social media.
We will be back with you next time on another great episode.