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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Slepian

What are the Elements of a Quality Podcast

Welcome to the third installment in our three-part series all about podcast tips and tricks. First, we talked about the benefits to hosting a podcast and reviewed the most common formats. Last month, we went into more detail about how to grow your audience and market your podcast. This month, we’ll chat about what goes into making a podcast that people want to listen to, subscribe to, and share.

A good podcast means everything from host authenticity to technical sound quality. This is a crowded space right now, so dialing in all of these elements isn’t helpful for standing out in the crowd, it could mean the difference between a successful podcast and one where you have to struggle for every download.

1) Maintain Subject Focus: Your listeners want to know what they’re getting into when they start listening, and chances are they downloaded your podcast for the subject matter. Whether they want to be entertained, advised, or learn something new, the subject matter is key and should stay focused. One of the biggest reasons people stop listening to

2) Predictable Structure: If you’re looking to create a more highly produced, structured podcast, expectation is key. Audiences tend to want to know the format of their media, and to have it be relatively similar each time. For podcasts, this means keeping the format the same for each episode. In this case, being predictable isn’t bad. The content itself doesn’t have to be predictable, but the structure should meet the listener's expectations. This can look like the same intro music, the same opening segment theme, the main body of the episode, and then a few short closing segments that carry the same theme for each episode, but with different material.

3) Host Charisma: A podcast is nothing without its hosts. You want a down-to-earth tone while still maintaining professionalism and authority. You want the listeners to be able to connect with the host and feel like this person is someone they could sit down and have a conversation with in person. The best hosts have a combination of authenticity, warmth, and authority on the subject.

4) Production Quality: We talked a little about this last month, but it bears repeating. Invest in good quality mics, recording equipment, and editing software. With sound as the sole medium for podcasts, having the highest quality is paramount. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, and if your first episode has poor sound mixing, too much background noise, or is difficult to hear, it’ll be hard to convince people to give it another shot. The same goes for your show page, logo, and show notes. Professional, high-quality, eye-catching visuals for the show page will make your show even more appealing.

5) Fresh, New Material: One the biggest reasons listeners stop subscribing to podcasts or lose interest is stale material. This can be challenging in the sense that maintaining a subject focus and constantly coming up with new material is a tough balance to strike, but it’s incredibly important to keep people coming back. Think about your subject from new or fresh angles. What’s a take you haven’t explored? What’s a behind-the-scenes subject that might interest your listeners? Thinking beyond the low-hanging fruit will be vitally important as you start producing more episodes and have to dig deep for fresh takes and subjects in your field.

6) Break Up the Episodes: You know how a giant chunk of text can look boring, intimidating, or both? The same goes with podcasts. Keep your audience engaged with different sections in each episode, or by breaking up long monologue or interviews with a themed element, like a short news brief, industry insider info, or a business update. You can also start or end the episode with a book recommendation, further reading, or a themed segment that stays the same every week.

7): Show Notes: We are living in the information age, which means people often want to know what they’re getting into before they decide to devote time to it. With the incredible amount of media begging for our attention, publishing show notes on your podcast’s hosting site or individual page is a good way to show the audience what the breakdown of the episode looks like. Show notes usually include a summary of the show in a paragraph or two, and then a time-stamped breakdown of the episode. This is where the structure and breaking up the episode comes into play. Your episode might have a few different elements that make up the entire length, so listing those elements as well as the timestamps can let audiences fast-forward to the part that interests them the most.

8) Regular Schedule: This goes along with predictability. Plan to drop new episodes every week, every other week, or even every month around the same time. This can help get your podcast into the listening habits of your audience, and shows a level of professionalism and competence that will keep people even more engaged.

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