Engaging podcast content takes time and work, but it’s worth the investment. The biggest reason to focus on producing compelling podcast episodes are their ability to help you build a loyal fan base. These listeners tune in to your show every week, help it succeed by leaving positive reviews, and sharing your content with friends. Ahead we share 13 tips to help improve your content’s quality and in turn build a loyal following.
How To Create Interesting Podcast Episodes
If you want engaged listeners you have to create engaging podcast content – the type of content they can’t wait to get more of. Check out our 13 tips to refine your episodes and start building the right kind of audience.
1. Talk about things you’re interested in
This may sound obvious but choosing a topic you like talking about is the cornerstone of podcasting. It not only helps you produce engaging content but it also is a key factor in consistently creating new episodes for your audience to enjoy.
If you’re struggling to engage an audience, take a step back and review your podcast’s theme. It’s better to start a new podcast based on a topic you like than commit to something that bores you.
2. Focus on your target audience
You can’t make a podcast that pleases everyone. It’s best to narrow your focus to a specific listener avatar who will get the most value from your content.
For inspiration, research topic options in a variety of places like relevant forums or online groups that are related to your target audience. Or read the comments on your podcast’s social posts or add more color to popular topics from past episodes. Better yet, ask your fans directly–use your email list and social pages asking for listener input about what they want to hear.
Once you have some ideas on paper, go through each one and ask yourself if the content focuses on your listeners’ needs. Will it add value to their life? Will it make them a better person in some way? Will they sit and listen to the entire episode? Is this the content they’re craving?
3. Tell lots of stories
Stories are powerful ways to connect with your audience. They create neurological responses in our brains that help us focus and empathize with the storyteller. Researchers at Stanford learned that people are also able to remember stories better than other kinds of information.
Start with a standard three act story arc, beginning with a setup, building to a confrontation, and ultimately ending with a resolution. To fill each segment, try answering these questions: What struggles were faced? What challenges were overcome? What lessons were learned?
Listen to “Crafting The Narrative” from Audience for more storytelling tips from the experts.
4. Help your audience take the next step
You have give to your listeners a reason to follow your show and this means creating podcast content that’s actionable.
Actionable content explains how your listeners can do something, not just what they should do or why. It gives them practical directions that can be applied in real life to satisfy a need.
For instance, if your music podcast discusses how difficult it is for young artists to get noticed, create more actionable podcast content by providing instructions on how to get noticed. The how can come from describing your personal experiences or inviting on a guest to share their industry expertise.
5. Ask your listeners questions and report their responses
Podcasting may be a one-way medium, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little audience participation. Ask open ended questions and explain how your audience’s answers will be featured in future episodes. Direct them to a central place to collect their responses like in the comment section of your podcast’s website or across your social media channels.
The benefits of this approach are two fold–you receive entertaining podcast content and your audience gets the excitement of having their answers read live on your show.
6. Stay on topic and don’t wander too much
As you get better at podcasting you’ll start to have fun, becoming more and more comfortable behind the mic. But make sure you don’t to become so relaxed that the conversation consistently strays off topic.
To keep yourself on track, follow your script or notes, at least loosely. If you catch yourself going down the wrong path, reign the conversation back to your plan. That isn’t to say all tangents are bad but make sure you’re not eroding the value of the episode by regularly including irrelevant anecdotes. Luckily, you can always edit out the segments that strayed a little too far in post-production.
7. Invite unique experts onto your show
Every niche has a bunch of experts who like to hit the “podcast circuit.” They’re on a different show every week. These experts make great guests because they know how to perform on a podcast, but your listeners have heard them before. Instead, go after guests who have great stories to tell, but are less well known.
Learn as much as you can about them before you record so you can prepare intelligent questions, rather than trying to come up with interesting things to say on the spot. Your questions should challenge your guest to come up with unique answers so your interview doesn’t sound like every other one they’ve given.
8. Listen carefully to your guests
Even though you’ll have interesting talking points prepared, avoid being the interviewer who reads a question, waits for the guest to answer, and then immediately moves onto the next without building off the response. Create more engaging podcast interviews by listening carefully to the guest’s comments then ask follow-up questions or chime in with your interesting tidbits.
Alongside your list of set questions, don’t be afraid to stray from the script to flesh out a guest’s interesting response. This is when you’ll access the off-the-cuff conversations that make your podcast content sticky, leaving you with a unique interview not found anywhere else.
9. Choose guests with the right qualities
When focusing on guests that don’t pop around the “podcast circuit”, make sure they still have these key qualities to ensure they’ll provide engaging content.
- Relevant – The guest should relate closely to your topic and the listener’s need. Don’t invite invite someone on the show just to have another voice.
- Knowledgeable – Your guest needs to have something useful to say that’s applicable today. For instance, an investment podcast might bring on a mortgage broker to talk about the housing market. But if that mortgage broker retired 25 years ago, he probably doesn’t have the right kind of knowledge.
- Entertaining – Your guests don’t need to sing and tell jokes, but they should be able to speak in a way that doesn’t grate or bore your listeners.
10. Make your audio perfect
This should go without saying, but people don’t engage with poor sounding audio. It’s distracting, unsettling, and gives a new listener a very easy reason to stop tuning in. Perfect your recordings with the proper equipment and try out our techniques to capture clearer audio the first time you sit behind the mic.
11. Tell your fans where to learn more
You can’t cover everything in a 30 or 45 minute segment, but your listeners may still have questions about the topic or issue you covered. The most engaging podcast content helps readers explore further and gives them ways to learn more.
For each episode, think about relevant resources you can direct listeners to later. Examples include relevant articles, YouTube videos, or books that dive deeper into the topic. Wherever possible, offer specific resources and make it easy for your listeners to find what you’re talking about. Rather than saying “visit the EPA’s website”, say “visit the EPA’s website and under ‘laws and regulation’ you’ll find the study with all of these data points.” In addition, add these resources to your show notes for another way for your audience to easily access the information.
12. Be yourself
This may sound like a cliché piece of advice, but it’s important!
You might be tempted to exaggerate one facet of your personality, or embellish a behavior you think people like. But if you want to create truly engaging podcast content, it’s best to be yourself. If you try to be anyone else, you’ll inevitably come off as inauthentic and listeners can always tell when you aren’t being truthful.
13. Post transcriptions of your episodes
This is a bonus tip to help you squeeze more value out of all the work you’ve put into creating an engaging episode. Not only does it allow those who are hearing impaired enjoy the show, including episode transcriptions on your website provides SEO value. New listeners can now discover your engaging podcast content as they search for information about the topics you’re covering. By providing search engines additional content to “crawl”, your podcast is more likely to show up in search results and in turn scale your audience.