Chances are you started a podcast because you believe you have something worth sharing with the world! And it’s pretty safe to assume that people are tuning in to your episodes because they believe it’s worth listening to. In politics, people vote with their ballots, in business they vote with dollars, and in the podcasting world our followers vote with their ears. Every listen is an affirmation. Every follow is an endorsement. And it feels great! But even as we begin successfully building a community surrounding our content, we must always be asking a pretty tough question: How can I consistently improve from my last episode?
It’s easy to coast and meander down the stream of progress at a pace that is steady and slow. It’s even easier to stagnate – or worse still – begin to regress. Friends, we have to row upstream and push against the tide of mediocrity. Putting in intentional effort to improve your podcast from episode to episode will give your audience greater value, grow the community around your brand, and help you to grow in your craft.
In today’s blog we want to share 6 helpful tips on how you can keep growing and improving your podcast content!
Let’s jump in with a rather uncomfortable first point…
1. Listen To It
Are you cringing at the thought of listening back to your own podcast? Don’t worry – you’re in good company! There is an actual term for the pheonomoan of disliking the sound of your own vocals: voice confrontation. A contributor for The Guardian in the field of psychology, Phillip Jaekl, explain it like this:
“While talking, we receive both sound transferred to our ears externally by air conduction and sound transferred internally through our bones. This bone conduction of sound delivers rich low frequencies that are not included in air-conducted vocal sound. So when you hear your recorded voice without these frequencies, it sounds higher – and different…because our recorded voice does not sound how we expect it to, we don’t like it.”
How Can I Overcome This?
You have to push past this very human disposition and embrace the sound of your own voice. Even in all its thin, unexpectedly pitched glory! I guarantee you, you will grow to love and accept it. Only after you’ve reached this point will you be able to take the step to critically listen to your podcast as a way of improving.
Listening back to your content in this way will allow you to pinpoint areas in need of improvement. What kind of things might you spot? Here’s a few examples of things you can look out for: Too many run-on sentences, too many filler words, no variation in your cadence, maybe that joke you cracked was in poor taste, maybe you repeat a word or phrase and need more variety in your vocabulary. And the list goes on!
By doing the difficult, uncomfortable work of listening back to your podcast you will put yourself in the seat of your listeners. This is valuable as it will give you a genuine insight into your weak areas and places for potential improvement. This is a solid way to improve on your podcast.
Related read: The real reason the sound of your own voice makes you cringe
Point number 2 takes the vulnerability factor up a notch…
2. Share It Strategically
Instead of only letting yourself in on the active critiquing process, invite others in to share their perspective. You can do this by sharing and submitting your podcast episode to trusted voices for criticism.
The key here is that the person is trusted. What does that look like? It means they are for you; they want to see you succeed, they want to see you grow your community and grow as a podcaster. It also means that their opinion matters; they know about podcasting, consume podcasts, and can identify unique factors that make a podcast a great one.
Strategically sharing your podcast with such individuals will give you a second, if not multiple, sets of ears (and eyes if you have a video podcast!) analyzing your episodes. You could have leveraged the benefits of step number 1 and started reviewing your own work, but a third party may pick up on things you missed and not carry the same emotional biases as you into the listening session. This is a great way to improve upon and level up your audio content, episode after episode.
3. Compare It
This is another simple, intuitive content improvement tip: compare your podcast to other podcasts! Comparison can be a killer if bought into the mix in an unhealthy way, but if leveraged strategically it can help you to level up.
To read further on this topic check out: How Do I Overcome Unhealthy Comparison?
The podcast that you use as a point of reference can very well be a show in the same area of expertise, or they could be about a totally tangential topic! You could choose it because it’s a podcast that you personally like and follow, or you could choose it based on its popularity as a podcast that many others enjoy and regularly listen to. It doesn’t matter, as long as the podcast you’re listening to is good – or more specifically – better than yours.
Aim for a podcast that you wouldn’t mind emulating in some respect. Do you like the intro and outro music? What is their 3,000 x 3,000 pixel podcast artwork like? Do they have a great name? Is their microphone quality above industry standards?
And don’t forget to focus on the host(s). If it’s their personality and gift set that drew you in. What are the host’s strengths? Is he a gifted storyteller? Is she a natural interviewer who pulls the best out of a guest with ease? Do they have a sharp mind and an impressive command on their niche subject? Pay attention to these key things, and stand ready to adopt and copt the most effective tips, tricks, and practices employed by podcasters you admire. Then you will be well on your way to improving your show!
4. Set A Goal
Set an improvement goal. Write it down. Tell somebody that you trust and that you know is invested in your growth (hello helpful accountability!). Set a deadline to complete the goal. Make it happen!
Motivational guru, Tony Robbins, say the following about goal setting:
“Goal setting is vital because it helps you decide and focus on what’s really important to you. Effective goal setting also lets you measure progress, overcome procrastination and visualize your dreams…Setting goals is the vehicle that will drive you to your desired destination.”
By setting a goal, you give shape to your improvement efforts; you’re not caught in the no-mans-land of procrastination and improvement in theory alone. Your podcast project has to evolve, improve, and grow. Being goalless is like playing a game of soccer with no way to possibly score! How would your team possibly win if there’s no targeted area in which to score points? In the same way, how would your podcast thrive and bring change to lives without a targeted deadline in which to see successful improvements that you would otherwise be waiting indefinitely for!
Related Read: How Can I Create A Compelling Future
Point number 5 can be viewed as the completion and consummation of point number 4…
You have to be good to yourself in order to grow. Do not flagellate your proverbial donkey with the infamous stick, instead incentivize yourself with the promising sweetness of the proverbial carrot. This approach to behaviour modification (as a means of achieving the ultimate goal of podcast moderation) is extremely helpful in that you will be teaching your brain through the power of positive reinforcement.
Here is positive reinforcement defined as according to Dr Daniel B. Block:
“Positive reinforcement involves the addition of a reinforcing stimulus following a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. When a favorable outcome, event, or reward occurs after an action, that particular response or behavior will be strengthened.“
Increase the odds of delivering your best content by introducing a reward every time you deliver and do a good job on your podcast – with ideation, meeting deadlines, conducting interviews, responding to listeners, whatever it may be. You’ll be training yourself to improve, and enjoying the benefits thereof (rightfully so, if I may say so!)
For Dr Block’s full thoughts, check out: Positive Reinforcement and Operant Conditioning
6. Have Fun!
Always have fun, and you’ll always be podcasting! They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so find a source of inspiration. It could be another podcaster, a respected journalist, or your fave interviewer. Be inspired, get in the recording space and have fun imagining being that guy or gal! Laugh with your guests. Dare to explore the incidiaru topics. Ask the hard questions. Don’t settle for anything less than a podcast that brings you joy, and allow yourself to be a joy bringer to others. This is a deeply organic, striving free method of growing in the skill of your craft.
There’s always room to grow. As you take the steps to insure continued progress, you will thank yourself for it, and so will your listeners.
Listen to and review your past work with a keen ear. Don’t hide from the embarrassing, not-so-good stuff. Instead decide to highlight it, take note and phase it out. And don’t keep all the fun to yourself, let trusted individuals in on this vulnerable critiquing process and you’ll be better off as a result. Compare your work to the best out there, and subsequently pressure yourself to come up higher and deliver at a greater level. Set yourself an improvement goal, and make sure you reward yourself when you achieve it! And all in all, whatever you do, have fun. This will bring joy to you and your listenership, and that is the fruit of a truly worthwhile improvement.