Podcasts are the millennial version of “old radio”. It has the power to story-tell, to capture our imagination calling us back for each new turn of the page like those generations before us who gathered for the weekly radio broadcast. This is much unlike “new radio”, whose purpose is to entertain or fill a gap with some talking head. In fact, very few new radio programs have the capacity to pull a crowd like old radio did and podcasts do now.
Your Podcast Title Sounds Like it Belongs on a Test Question
Here’s a test question: if 1 in 6 Americans has consumed a podcast in the last month, and one in five smartphone owners are podcast consumers, then why isn’t anyone listening to your podcast?
The answer probably has a little something to do with your podcast title. It’s either boring or thwarting. The best podcasts sound like they’re catchphrases in a conversation – and you want to be in that conversation. Some of the best titled (and winningly successful) podcasts are “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” “James Bonding,” “When Diplomacy Fails,” and of course the podcast that gets us curious based on potential conversation alone, “The Dead Authors Podcasts,” which with great genius relies on what wasn’t said to say what could be said. Of course there’s nothing wrong with a podcast relying on your brand name. If you’ve got a strong brand, like the Nerdist, or are a popular well-loved figure (like most comedian podcasts), then by all means ride those coat tails.
Your Voice Has the Monotonous Charm of the Teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Remember the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the one known for his classic one-liner “Anyone, anyone”? You two have a lot in common.
You’re probably wondering why anyone isn’t listening of your podcast, and it’s probably because anyone would rather be doing anything else than to listen to your extremely boring voice. I hate to be mean, but some people require tough love.
The tough love comes from my own first hand experience of listening to some great marketing podcasts out there, but if I didn’t have the will of a sadistic saint, I would have unplugged seconds in. Why? Because the host sounds like that timid kid in the back of the classroom forced to go up and offer a presentation on the mating rituals of monarch butterflies in front of all the mean kids – and right after lunch, when it’s prime time for not paying attention. It’s that painful to listen to.
The Silver Lining for a Not-So-Silver Tongue
The silver lining here is that your content might be great, but if your voice can’t keep pace with listener expectations, there’s a very high chance you’re losing listeners.
To the moaners and groaners out there who are now going to complain with “but I just don’t sound great” or “but what am I suppose to do”, I want to say “but, but nothing”. To quote The Daily Egg’s article on “Is Audio The Next Big Thing in Digital Marketing”, you can romp around in the fact that “audio content has a distinct advantage: audio is ‘eyes free’ content.” This means you don’t have to worry about your messy desk, your frumpled appearance, or another visually grotesque detail. You do, however, need to sound good – you need to harness that silver tongue.
You need to sound more than just good: you need to sound infectious. Of course, it helps if you have worthwhile content, but even great content alone doesn’t cut the mustard if your presentation is sub par. To help you jump over this obstacle, I recommend removing your insecurity from the equation. There’s a good chance you’re sounding one way ‘on record’ and another way when they’re in a social environment with friends. Rule of thumb: speak like you’re chatting with your bestie and you’ll come off a lot more convincing and likeable.
Most people sound awful because they’re nervous. They’re not necessarily boring people, they’re just boring public speakers. The brilliance of podcasting is that, like radio, there’s really nothing public about it. Remember that you decided to do a podcast because you have something unique to say on your subject and because you know you’re subject well.
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