Simple Principles For Great Podcasting

I’m a podcast addict. Right now I have more unlistened-to podcasts than my poor MP3 player can physically store – over 200 at last count – despite getting through 15-20 every week. So, despite not podcasting myself (I think I talk enough already), I feel like I have some justification in identifying what makes a good ‘cast and what keeps people listening.

The casts I listen to range greatly in quality, subject and tone, but there are some clear similarities between the ones that I tune into the most.

Joseph Jaffe
talked recently in Across The Sound about overwhelming negativity in the blogosphere. With that in mind, I’m focusing on the positive things that podcasters can do to keep their listeners rather than the things people do wrong:

  1. Exude energy. Be positive. Mitch Joel’s enthusiasm is infectious – you can’t help but enjoy his ‘casts. Be excited about what you’re doing and it will show
  2. Focus on content. “Content is king. It’s what people tune in for. Personality comes into it and celebrity has an impact, but without the content you’re nothing
  3. Value your audience. You’re dedicating your time to the podcast, but also remember that they’re investing their time in you. Also remember: if you promote a company (yours or a sponsor’s) on your podcast then your behaviour reflects on them, be it positively or negatively
  4. If you’re going to solicit comments, engage in real two-way conversation. Not all shows do include comments, which is fine (Manager Tools is a great example), but those that do should have a genuine dialogue.One of the reasons I enjoy Inside PR is that David and Terry are willing to be wrong (as shown on their latest show). They’re happy to include and genuinely discuss comments from people that disagree with them, and they don’t have to ‘win’ the discussion.

I don’t think these ideas are rocket science, but many podcasts suffer from not doing one or more of these things.

  • David Jones

    Dave…a very nice summary from a listeners point of view. I’m a firm believer in respecting the audience’s time and attention. Get your content across in an entertaining way, provide value and be consistent.

    I expect something from the podcasts I listen to. That’s the sign of a good brand.

    A couple of things that I find determine whether or not I listen regularly, casually or unsubscribe:

    – length: as long as it needs to be, but no longer. Be vicious about your listener’s time.
    – soapbox factor: I like personality, but I’m not that interested in the personal. I want to like the host, but they should be trying to reach me with their content, not their rantings
    – format: a bit of structure makes planning easier, helps with pace and achieves a consistent experience for the listener.

  • Dave Fleet

    Thanks David – great points; I completely agree.

  • Mitch Joel

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I was always told that you should record a Podcast in your natural voice and just add a little enthusiasm.

    Maybe, sometimes, I take it too far 🙂

  • Donna Papacosta

    Nice post, Dave. In response to Mitch’s comment, I like to say: In your podcast you should sound like YOU. Only better.