Feedback from an audience is what helps create a better product. For podcasters, that audience is podcast listeners. But if you are a podcast listener already, it is easier to incorporate that feedback into your content before you even launch. This results in a better quality podcast and making you a better host right from the get-go. It’s about knowing what is attractive to an audience because you are one. Join Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard as they dive deep into why curious podcast listeners make better podcast hosts in this episode. Learn best practices and get helpful tips on how you can create a better listener experience by being a curious listener yourself.

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Why Do Curious Podcast Listeners Make Better Podcast Hosts?

We’ve got a topic that might be a revelation or a surprise to a lot of you podcasters out there.

As we’re going through this, I started to look back at the ones that claim to be podcast listeners that before they started their show had a lot of better characteristics. The other ones learned on the fly figured out what was working, but it took them longer to become a better podcast host. That’s why we wanted to talk about this topic because we can help you accelerate that by telling you what to look for by going out and say, “Go research. Go be a listener right now.”

One of the things I want to qualify this title, what we’re setting up here as the topic for with is that we’re not saying that every podcast listener should be a podcast host. I want to make sure that’s clear because the title might suggest that. What we’re saying is we’re finding those podcasts hosts that are also curious podcasts listeners make better podcast hosts, then maybe a podcast host that doesn’t listen to podcasts who isn’t a podcast listener. I can’t tell you how many people we even work with that we know they’re podcasts hosts and they’re not podcasts listeners at all.

I have an interview with someone who’s a YouTuber first. I can tell because everything’s technically wrong about their podcast and the way that they’re presenting it through. It’s like, “Watch here,” and it’s got everything about the YouTube and the stuff that you stuff into the descriptions on YouTube is stuffed into the description of their episodes. I can tell that they’re YouTube-first also once I start listening to their show. It has that characteristic of a video-first model. Obviously, they’ve been killing it on YouTube. They’re doing great. They have a lot of YouTubers who listen to them. They have a good subscriber base. They have a lot of downloads and listens, but they could be better. They’re not attracting the binge listeners out there because of the structure of their show because of some of these things that they have, like technical flaws in them as well.

Tracy, before we go on and talk about why we think curious podcast listeners make better podcast hosts, I’d like to ask you a question. Can a person be a great podcast host without being a podcast listener, in your opinion?

You can but there’re some things that you’ll learn over time that if you aren’t tapped into, you aren’t listening to the engagement from your community and what people are saying back to you. You’re not taking that critique back in. You’re not going to merge into someone who’s going to appeal to the podcast core listener base that’s out there looking for new shows, constantly listening to different ones that are out there boosting shows all the time. You may miss them because you’re not tapped in listening. There are lots of broadcasters out there who’ve turned into great podcast hosts. They’re inherently learn-their-media type. That’s what they are about. If they went from TV to radio or radio to TV, they said, “This is a different media. I need a media type. I need to consume and understand it so that I change what I do well already into something that adapts well in this media.”

Be curious, listen to a lot of different podcasts, especially in your niche. Click To Tweet

A lot of them have people who tell you that. When you go from radio to TV, they have producers. You have all kinds of people. They’re telling you what to do different because it reads differently here. Our audience is different and they’re there telling you and coaching you and helping you. Podcasters, all you guys have is us and these commentaries that are going on as to how this is occurring, or you have a coach who’s done it once who tells you this. That’s where you can get into danger. Those podcast listeners are your best guide. That’s why if you are already one and maybe you didn’t have tremendous amount of broadcast experience, you can turn yourself into a great podcast host.

Thank you, Tracy. I couldn’t agree with you more. While you can be a great podcast host without being a listener, we’re going to reveal some things for you to consider that might make you think, “Maybe I should listen more. It might make me a better podcast host.”

The qualifying word that I wanted you all to listen to is the word we put at the front of it, curious podcast listeners. A podcast listener who’s just devoted to one single show, it’s their favorite show, they’re going to listen to Joe Rogan day in, day out, that’s what they want and what they come to podcasting for, are not the kind of people I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people who are curious out there, who want to learn, and who are eager to get more information. They use podcasts as their source for it. It’s like I’m a reader and I will find new books out there. I’m on top of whatever the latest business book and fiction are. I’m in front of it all the time because I’m curious and I’m a reader, so I can consume it quickly, too. I’m a podcast listener in the same way. I do it the same way.

That’s why we find binge listener podcasters are those types of people. They’re out there and podcasting is their chosen form of learning. By not tapping into some of those things or not understanding that’s how they’re consuming a podcast, then you may be missing out on some ideas and some things that you could be incorporating better into your show so that you can be a better host for those types of listeners. Those types of listeners are active in the podcasting community. They share your show. They tell other podcast listeners. They’re the people everybody goes to and say, “What are you listening to right now?” You’re not listening to the same five shows you’ve always listened to. You’re listening to five new ones that no one’s ever heard of before. You’re on top of that.

That’s the curious part that I want you to tap into. I want you to be that. You don’t have to sit and say, “In order to be a good podcast host, I have to listen to a show day in and day out.” I’m not saying that. I’m saying, do research, be curious, go out there and check out what’s out there, and do that on a continual basis. Going out and looking for new great articles was a way that I made my column better in Inc. Magazine. Being curious about podcasts is what’s going to serve you here and then listen and check some out.

Tracy, let’s help out our audience by pointing out some things that we believe listening to podcasts from a curious perspective, how can that help them?

You’re not a regular podcast listener in terms of, I’m going to call it a consumption model of learning. You have to be.

FYB 110 | Better Podcast Host

Better Podcast Host: Fix the audio when you know it’s fixable.

 

Not as much as you. I have some that I enjoy and I listen to. I do try to find new ones but I don’t consume the volume that you do. You are a hyper consumer, similar to how you are with books. Literally, I kid you not folks, in a week Tracy has read, I don’t know how many total books you’ve read, but you’ve read two that I couldn’t believe. “You just started that one yesterday, you’re done with it today? It hasn’t even been 24 hours.” Thick, hard cover books, which is odd for you. Usually, you use your Kindle. I don’t have visibility as to how many books you’ve gone through but this particular week, you’ve read a couple that are physically printed hard cover books of the kind.

Now everybody wants to know what I’ve read.

They’ll be surprised to hear that, too.

We binged watch the Netflix show, Getting Organized, me and our youngest daughter, Vanessa, and decided that we were going to organize all the books in the playroom. We reorganized all the books in the playroom. These two books I happened to find in there were not our seven-year-old books. They were our twelve-year-old’s books who she didn’t read them. It was Ready Player One and Ready Player Two. I started Ready Player Two and went a chapter in and realized that maybe the first book was not like the movie and I better read the first book before I read the second one.

We each have seen the movie, which was a good movie. You went back and said, “If I’m going to read this book, which is not a movie yet, I got to go back and read the first book.”

There was a character change. For those of you who have not read it, I don’t want to spoil it for you. There was a character difference and I was like, “I better read the first one now, so I understand why this book is different than that movie.” That’s what I did. I consumed both of those but it’s the same thing with a podcast. When I go and I find one, that’s what I do. I was like, “This is a cool podcast.” If I find out that the host has multiple podcasts, I’m going to go check out the next one and the next one. Especially I try to go in the order that they launched them as well.

That’s because it makes sense. It has more continuity like it would if you were reading volume 1 and volume 2 of a book as well. We’re a series of books. Here’s the thing you’re going to notice when you start regularly listening to different shows. Instead of to the same show all the time, you’re going to hear the things that constantly are annoying. From a listener’s perspective, if it’s a noise you hear, you’re going to be more conscious of it and you’re going to remove it from your show. These are the things that we lecture you guys on here a lot.

I try not to lecture. I try to make an informed suggestion or recommendation. At the end of the day, it’s your show. You can have it the way you want. A lot of people, despite our experience, we try not to throw it in their face too much. We make suggestions that are coming from a place of experience. A lot of times people are like, “Thank you. I appreciate that but I’m going to do it this way.” Nine times out of ten, they end up pivoting and changing this thing within maybe 3 to 6 months.

We’re trying to prevent the learning curve that you’re going to go through because this is a fast-forward experience. That’s why I’m encouraging you, go out there. Be curious. Listen to a lot of different podcasts, especially in your niche. Especially if you’re in the business real estate category, listen to a bunch of business real estate shows. If you’re in fitness, listen to a bunch of different fitness podcasters. You want to listen to ones that are in your category because the listeners are looking like that.

Podcast listeners are your best guide. Click To Tweet

They’re similar. They’re out there jumping from show to show. You’re going to find out what you do want to do and what you don’t want to do. Here is one of the things that come up again and again. We harp on this. At least I feel like I do because I repeat it so often. The issue is I’m constantly repeating these, but these are the annoying things that we know as listeners but we also hear back from many hosts who realize, after they survey their listeners, this is what they don’t want anymore.

The most annoying things are long intros and outros. When you go from episode to episode, your intro and your outro are also compressed together. This is something you’ll know. If you listen from one episode to the next episode in someone’s series of episodes, you’ll start from the beginning and you’re going to binge listen, for instance. You’re going to end up with the intros and outros back to back. If you’ve got a minute and a half long intro and a two minute outro, that’s so long. It’s a super amount of time. For some people who are listening while actively doing something else, skipping it is not an option. You didn’t want them to skip it as the host. You wanted them to hear where to find you and what else do you have to offer. Being more concise in your intro and outros are doing a complete service to your listener base.

While I agree with you on this point, Tracy, I do tend to believe and short as the word I don’t want to use. Short and sweet maybe. You want to catch people’s attention. You want to make sure they realize that they pressed the right show to listen to because if you’re familiar with the show, that jingle at the beginning is going to be familiar like, “I chose the right one. Get them in the right place. I didn’t click the wrong ones.” Shorter intro is more important than shorter outro because many apps, at least the one I listened to and I know you don’t use the same one I do, is that when I hear that outro start and I’ve heard it before, it’s very easy for me to advance to the next episode with one little push. The first time I heard the show, I listen to that long outro maybe the first few times because I want to remember, “Where do I engage with the host more? What else is there for me to consume?”

This is the thing, a shorter intro is the more common that we’re hearing in all types of shows, not just business shows. The entertainment industry, they’re all adopting it. We’re hearing more of a 30-second intro as being much more common length. It doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally have a longer one. I recommend, in your early days, it’s okay to have a slightly longer one, knowing that you might shift to it after your first ten episodes or something like that. You might do that on purpose. Maybe you take a longer version and you have an edited down version that you’re going to swap to at some point in the future. It’s technically the same intro, just shortened.

If you’ve ever seen a TV show, sometimes they do the long outro. They have the long trailer with the long credits, where they have the long version and they do it only once a week. You could have a longer version that you could use on occasion when important. When you know you’ve done a big marketing push, for instance, you can drop in those longer intros. You can have multiple intro and outros that you drop in periodically. Because they have similarity, same basic information, music, and voice-over artists, all of that is the same, that’s a great way to use it, mix it up, and not make it so repetitively long for everyone all the time. We don’t want people to skip our outros on a regular basis. It is a very common thing to hit next episode. I purposely don’t do it because I’m researching.

I do it on shows that I listened to for my own personal, but I’ve listened to it enough. If it is short enough in that outro, I won’t bother to do it because I don’t want to miss what comes up next. I don’t want to skip ahead and end up missing something on the next episode because I hit 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or I hit next episode. We don’t want to skip them. It’s not easy science to skip the commercials. It’s not easy on podcasts to do that and we may skip something that’s important. Most regular listeners don’t do the skip button. They don’t use it. They’ll do 15 seconds. Fifteen seconds might move ahead a couple if you’re being too long-winded. That’s about it. We want to try to keep them short.

FYB 110 | Better Podcast Host

Better Podcast Host: When you start listening regularly to different shows instead of to the same show all the time, you’re going to hear the things that constantly are annoying.

 

You said 30 seconds, that’s a good recommendation. I tend to suggest to people 20 to 30 seconds as a range. That’s ideal. I can’t tell you, especially podcasters who started and then came to us later for support, how many I get that are 90 seconds, even two minutes long. Listening to it, for me, it’s excruciating. I can see why somebody may not be having as much success with their show as they want to have.

We have Podetize. If you’re hosted elsewhere and some of you have ads that stream from the hosting service, that’s why you’ve chosen to go with them. You’ll have this ad streaming happening. You might have a minute to two minutes of ads. I have heard some extremely longer than that.

It’s driven at least three different customers to leave that platform and come to Podetize because that service was running three and a half minutes one customer of ads before it ever started their intro and then got to their content. People are switching it off before they’re even getting them on the show.

You have to recognize that Spotify and Apple are going to be doing that in the future. Whether you like it or not, that’s going to happen. For someone who’s going to listen to that and then go into a long intro, you can’t do anything about it if Spotify is streaming ads on the front of your show. Somebody chose not to pay for Spotify Premium or Spotify subscription, so then that listener out there is already tuned out before your intro even starts. Some ways to get around it if you want to have a slightly longer intro is to have one of these preambles on there, where you like tease them in, get a quote in, and get them excited about the show, then do the intro if you need to have a little bit longer intro, that might be the way to do it or if you’re on one of these services where you need the ads, because that’s what’s supporting our show or you’re in a network that requires it and you can’t do anything about it.

Those are some pieces of advice there, but you’re going to get annoyed by it. You’re going to find it yourself. You’re going to find you’re skipping it, which is exactly what you want your audience not to do. If you’re skipping it, you can bet they’re doing it, too. These are some things that they will find annoying, not worth listening to, and will happen. If you’re a listener, you’re going to find that out. Another one is bad audio. It happens every so often. Keep in mind, this is frequent bad audio.

There’re always exceptions. If you’re interviewing guests, you do not always and maybe sometimes you rarely, have control or the ability to improve a guests’ audio quality. That’s very unfortunate. Though listeners will accept and forgive that, there’re a number of different ways you can look at it, but if the host’s audio is bad in general, it is a real reason people will go, “What’s the next podcast?”

There are so many ways for you to make sure that your audio is good from the beginning. Even if you’re in a non-edit mode, you’re trying to have a low edit show, which I completely understand. Don’t we all want to have it easy? When you’re in that mode, you can still make it better from the beginning. One thing is doing a good soundcheck at the beginning of your show with your guests, doing what you can to try to improve things on your end from that. If you constantly have the bad audio, that’s not okay. If it is a case where you recorded it, you had one of those AirPods you were using, which I can’t stand those, or some other headset and it’s clicking and it’s making an annoying sound, get yourself an editor for that particular episode, even if you’ve never done it before for any of your other shows. Fix the audio when you know it’s fixable. It’s so annoying when you’re losing the content because that’s the way someone’s going to jump out of the episode.

Quality is not in alignment with price. Click To Tweet

In fact, I’ve been asked to be a guest on a show. I went to listen to their show and the audio quality of the hosts was so bad, raw, and unedited in a way that honestly made me not want to have my personal brand associated with that show. I declined to be interviewed on the show. It can get that bad. I don’t expect that everybody is that bad. Audio quality inherently is important to most podcast hosts. If you listen to other shows and you hear the difference in audio quality, this issue becomes more clear to you.

It’s preventing people from listening to all your shows. Even if they might check one out, they’re prevented from going further because they’re like, “I can’t put up with that.” Repetitive sounds, clicking sounds, popping, anything like that, that’s annoying. Audio balance between you and your guest. If you can barely hear the guests, but you’re so loud, you don’t have the sound balance going on. That’s another, and echoes do happen with guests all the time or it happens because you moved environments. Maybe you recorded in a special environment. If it’s a continual problem, you need to do something about those things.

A lot of times, just a good quality microphone. We have recommendations.

I hate that term, Tom, good quality microphone, because people think if they throw more money at it, it’s an answer.

Fair enough, it’s not about money though. Quality is not in alignment with price for a microphone. When I said good quality microphone, I didn’t mean buy an expensive microphone.

Remind everybody, we have the episode Best and Worst Microphones. It’s out there. It’s super useful.

It’s on Podetize.com. You go to the Feed Your Brand page there and just search on microphones. It’s going to come up.

We have it even easier, Podetize.com/microphones. It gets you right to the episodes. I’ve had to say it so often that it got to be a problem. I’ve said it so often from this stage.

I probably should know that but I knew you’d speak more from stage than I do. By the way, another pro tip for you, podcasters, if you have something you refer to pretty frequently, you can make a good referral link and help people get through it quicker.

It’s super easy. What else is a problem when you listen to shows?

Interestingly, Tracy, when you were mentioning about how many podcasts you listen to and that I do listen to less of them, in my mind, I was thinking published podcasts that I subscribed to on my app and listened to. Do you know what I listened to the most in terms of podcasts? I listened to the first 2 or 3 episodes any of our clients’ records. They send them to me and I listen to them and give them feedback. I listened to a lot of podcasts, too, but it’s a lot of the early raw ones because I’m trying to provide helpful suggestions.

FYB 110 | Better Podcast Host

Better Podcast Host: Being more concise in your intros and outros are doing a complete service to your listener base.

 

I have it happened semi-regularly where that first episode someone is beginning their show by reading a little script about, “Listeners, welcome to this show.” They read a little script about what their show is about. Any time you read a script, especially in the beginning of being a new podcaster, I can tell even if I’m not seeing any video and seeing your eyes follow left to right while you’re reading. If I’m just listening to it, I can tell and your listener can, too.

I have had some top podcasters that I’ve interviewed on The Binge Factor that are given scripts. That’s the part of the process. It’s like an iHeartRadio.

Their PR firms have given them PowerPoints.

They’re pros at it and they still do a bad enough job. The script itself is a crutch. You think people don’t see me because you’re maybe not on camera. They can’t see me looking at the words, but that effect is causing the way the words come out of your mouth to be less spontaneous and authentic in its process. What we recommend are bullet points. Rather than scripts, bullet points out what you want to say.

Have some things that are going to give you a roadmap of reminding you not to forget to talk about this and this. Three, no more than five bullet points, keep yourself on track, but you should know your stuff and you should be able to deliver it. You don’t need the crutch because when you read it, it comes across mechanical. If you want another example, not only listening to podcasts to try to experience that. I don’t care what your political affiliation is. This is not a political commentary. If you go watch politicians that are giving a speech, clearly there’s a teleprompter and their reading it. It is always more mechanical than when a politician is speaking what they know and believe, delivering something authentically.

That’s an important thing for you to get across. There is an exception to that, and there are some people who do this well, but I guarantee you, they take multiple takes and then pick the best one. That is when you do a little preamble that you want to be tightly scripted. You want it to have a very specified sentence that you’re saying because it’s coming before your intro or it’s teasing for your episode or something like that. We have a lot of people who do, do that. It’s a stylized structure of a show. They script those very regularly, but I guarantee you they practice them. It’s one sentence or so. It’s not hard for them to drop the script and then say the lines because they’ve memorized it.

Another exception that I do counsel our podcasters on is that if you are quoting somebody as a part of your discussion or your topic, then it is important to read that quote and get it accurate. In that kind of context, that’s okay for the delivery of that to be more mechanical because it’s not your words.

Remember, it’s your show and you can edit. Click To Tweet

Accuracy matters.

Those are important.

What comes off as too sales-y that you’re going to learn quickly and you’re going to see where your comfort level lies, you can go and listen to top sales podcasts, there’s a lot of sales-y messaging going on there, but that might be right for the audience. It might be different if you’re trying to coach it and someone on it on self-empowerment. Having too sales-y of a message is not very empowering to that person who’s listening.

Thinking about your audience and how much of that sales language and pushy messaging are you comfortable with both in the way you say things throughout your show and in the advertisements or promotions that you might be running that are talking about your opportunities on your offers. It might teach you to craft your language differently, you your process of how you like to do it. That’s something that you’ll learn quickly from being a good listener, especially when you listen in your genre and to your competition, for that matter.

Tracy, what about when you have maybe a guest or another person you are sure you’re having a discussion with and they are running on and on and never stopping. You don’t want to disrespect them because as you’re interviewing them, while it’s your show that you’re recording, you have a personal connection and relationship with that person. You want to interrupt them to interject, to maybe get them more to focus on something else and not just go off on their tangent. What would you do?

I have a way of being a little bit pushy. It’s easy for me to stop someone and say, “Wait, let me hear what you said carefully. Let me clarify this. Make sure I understood this.” In a way, we focus and get them back on track. I’m comfortable with that, but you may not be, especially if you haven’t interviewed thousands of people like I have.

Maybe you’re interviewing a world leader. That’s a tough situation.

We’ve seen broadcasters do an extremely bad job of interviewing world leaders. I’m not going to name any names, but it was pretty bad. We’ve seen that go on. Learning great interview tactics is a strategy. I have a couple of shows that I listened to specifically for that. One of my favorite shows is Veronica Dagher, her show is called Secrets of Wealthy Women. She came up from The Wall Street Journal. She came from print and then went into broadcast media. She’s got all the tactics of being a great in-depth interviewer and understanding where the story lies. She’s brilliant at it. I love to hear her interview other broadcasters, which she regularly does because there’s this battle going on.

It’s exactly the same issue that I have on my show. I’m interviewing top podcasters and I’m the podcast host. There’s like a battle of the broadcaster is going on. Who’s controlling the interview, who is this about. How do you do that in a good way that still highlights the people, gives them the feature that they’re looking for but also shows that you’re in control here? I learned from watching and listening to her and going through that. There’s a handful of other podcasts that I do regularly frequent when I want to up my interview game, especially when I know who I’m going to interview because I research who I’m going to interview. When I know I’ve got a certain type of personality, I might go, “I’m going to go check out these shows and brush up on some interview ideas on how to do that, how to interrupt them better, and how to set up a question better.” Those are some things that you’ll get from being a curious podcast listener.

FYB 110 | Better Podcast Host

Better Podcast Host: By being a curious podcast listener, you’re creating a better listener experience through your show and you’re learning what will work and what won’t work.

 

The one other thing I want to remind our listeners is that, especially when you’re a new host, it takes time to build some of these skills, to get comfortable with some of these things. Remember, it’s your show and you can edit. Just because it happened a certain way live in the moment, it doesn’t mean that’s how you have to publish it to the world. You do and can take opportunities to cut things out. Tracy, you have another question?

Some people think just because you live stream it and it happened that way, it doesn’t mean that it has to happen that way in the podcast. Remember, podcast listeners are different than the kind of people that watch live streams. It’s a different audience. If you feel like you want to curate, edit, be tighter about it, and change it up for them, then do it. If it feels like that’s the right thing to do to make that show a better show and a better listening experience, that’s the whole point of what we’re talking about here. By being a curious podcast listener, you’re creating a better listener experience through your show and you’re learning what will work and what won’t work. You’re also learning about you, what your preferences are, how you listen, and how you want your show to come off.

This is another reason why I also suggest when we were talking about potentially interjecting, interrupting, and wanting to refocus part of your episode. This is why we always recommend, even if you don’t intend to use the video that you conduct interviews, especially if they’re remotely and if they’re in person it’s even easier to do. If you’re conducting interviews remotely, use video because you can have a hand signal to your guests, facial expression, holding up a finger, or raising your hand.

You can even set some ground rules with your guests ahead of time, “If I have a question or I want to put emphasis on something, I might raise my hand. I’m not wanting to stop you immediately but if you can, when I do that, get to a point where you might pause what you’re saying and could resume after I chime in.” You can set ground rules if you want. It’s even easier if you have a cohost to create personal hand signals. We do it off camera all the time. Tracy will tap me or she’ll hit me on the back of my shoulder like, “Tom, you’re beating a dead horse. Let’s move on with it.” I’ll do the same thing to Tracy.

We’ve always done video interviews, even when we didn’t save the video or utilize them, but also because they’re great to be repurposed on social. You want to have that. Who doesn’t want to have it when you interview someone great? You don’t know where they’re going to go. Maybe you interview someone at the start and you don’t know how successful they’re going to be. You’re going to wish you had that video later. You want some visual evidence. Anyway, we hope this episode inspires you to go out, check out some podcast shows. Check out your competition, check it out in your niche. Become a curious podcast listener and then translate that into making a better listening experience and becoming a better podcast host.

We will be back next time with hopefully another helpful episode.

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