Captivating your audience with engaging content is key to building loyal, long-term followers and is foundational to your marketing strategy and your podcast's overall success. While every podcaster knows the importance of creating valuable content, many struggle to keep their content consistently compelling and to maintain that momentum for the long haul.
Thankfully, there are some key strategies that you can use to make it easier. In this blog, we'll break down the five foundational elements of great podcast content.
Pillar #1. Tailor podcast content with thorough research and prep
Podcast research comes down to 1. knowing your target audience and 2. making content relevant and valuable to your ideal listener. Know exactly who you're trying to reach with your content and what problems you can solve for them. Ask yourself:
- Who they are?
- What do they want to hear about?
- What problems do they have?
The better you can answer these questions, the more tailored your content will be to your ideal listener. From there, you can start creating content that solves their problems and provides valuable information.
Pillar #2. Top-notch hosting and interview skills
Podcast hosting is a skill and-obviously-a huge part of what makes or breaks your content. Listeners can spot true enthusiasm, and while they might give you a break on sound quality sometimes, they are generally less forgiving when it comes to passion and the quality of your hosting/interviewing.
if you're a solo podcaster, the most important things you can do is be passionate, be yourself, and make your episodes as value-packed as possible. The "value" of your episodes will look different depending on the type of podcast you have. And this is where knowing your audience comes into play.
- Here are some other things to keep in mind as a host:
- Be personable: People want to feel like they know the host, so don’t be afraid to show your personality.
- Make sure you are well-prepared: Before each episode, make sure that you have done your research and are thoroughly prepared for it.
- Don’t be afraid of pauses or silences: Pauses are a natural part of the conversation and give your listeners time to think.
- Ask open-ended questions: Asking open-ended questions allows you to explore topics in more depth, allowing for richer conversations.
- Be mindful of your tone: Speak clearly and avoid talking over your guests or speaking too quickly.
Pillar #3. Great audio quality
Podcast listeners don’t require top-notch audio, but they will drop off if it's low-quality and distracting with lots of background noise, etc. So the main goal is just to make your audio as good as it needs to be to keep listeners engaged with the content and interested in what you are talking about.
As a refresher:
- Choose a good recording space. A quality audio file is. in large part, determined by the space you record in. Pick a small, carpeted room (like a closet), and invest in soundproofing if needed.
- Use good podcast equipment. You don't need professional-grade equipment to get a good result: a quality mic (and stand), a pair of headphones, and recording software like GarageBand are really all you need.
- Master mic technique. Experiment with some mic angles and techniques to get the best sound.
These tips will get you better audio and save you time on the back end by requiring less editing in post-production.
Pillar #4. Quality scripting for each episode
Having a script for your episodes can make a significant difference in their overall quality and listenability. A good podcast script provides an outline of the topics that will be discussed during the episode, as well as outlines for all transitions. It can be anything from a word-for-word monologue or just a few bullet points to help you stay on track.
As a bonus, having a solid script can also make post-production easier by providing structure and organization for editing purposes.
Your main objective is to outline the main points to discuss and pepper in things like key takeaways, insights, data, and interesting stories to make the episode flow and ultimately make it enjoyable to listen to. But don't be afraid to go off script, either. Sometimes the best interviews come from deviating from the plan and exploring interesting tangents.
Pillar #5. Editing focussed on listener retention
It’s easy to get caught up in audio quality and sound effects in post-production, but the real key to powerful editing is to focus on the structure and flow of your content. The best way to do this? Apply the elements of storytelling to each episode.
Here are the narrative elements of storytelling. We'll use interview podcasts as an example, but you can easily apply this structure to any type of podcast you have.
- Exposition - Introducing the characters and setting of the story. Start your podcast episode by introducing who is talking, what topics are going to be discussed, and why it matters to your listeners. This will give them a sense of direction for where the episode is heading and why they should keep listening.
- Rising Action - Developing tension, increasing stakes, and creating conflict. Use questions and statements to get conversations going with your guests and keep listeners engaged in the conversation. Ask follow-up questions to go deeper into topics, establish how different opinions clash, and build suspense as you move toward the climax of your episode.
- Climax - The most intense moment of the story when all actions come together. This is the moment when everything comes together, and the biggest issue is resolved. Make sure this moment resonates with your audience by bringing in data or stories to prove your point and make it relevant to their lives.
- Resolution - Tying up loose ends and providing closure to the story. Wrap things up by summarizing key takeaways, discussing how everyone can apply what they learned to their own life, and leaving listeners with a call to action or something to think about.
Pro tip: Listen time is one of the best data points to track to keep track of your episode performance. Keep an eye on listen time stats (via your podcast hosting site and other platforms you're listed on) to see how these changes affect the performance of your episode so you can continue to optimize.
Making consistent, quality podcasting content can feel overwhelming, but following these basic elements of good podcasting can help lay the foundation for great content that can grow your podcast’s reach and keep current listeners around for the long term.