Why A Lot Of Podcasts Suck

By @TheMarkDalton

I’m an avid podcast listener, I love podcasts but over the past few months I found myself not listening anymore. Somewhere at some point, the love of podcasts fell away and I recently found out why that was the case. Quite simply put — a lot of podcasts suck, and I was listening to them.

Podcasting is tough work and props to anyone who tries to do it, really. For a moment lets just forget about your podcast being good or bad and put it out there that anyone who tries to setup and run a podcast is putting themselves out there and that is something to be respected.

I personally don’t run my own podcast, I have thought about it in the past and decided to hedge my bets working on Snapchat and Instagram video content which I will branch out over time. Video is going to be bigger than audio, fact. So while podcasting is awesome and important, I simply don’t have the time to get it done on top of everything else I am doing now because I have choosen to give other platforms priority in my strategy.

But back to the issue here, a lot of podcasts suck and the simple fact of the matter is that while you love the idea of having your podcast and you love the idea of being a host on a show, you just might not be good at it or your content just not might be good enough.

I went through my podcast subscriptions last week and deleted a lot of junk and shows that I simply had no interest in anymore or were not of high appeal or quality. This is the current podcast list I am subscribed to now (there were about 10 more last week before cleaning out).

The end result now is that I am back listening to podcasts and loving them. So why do a lot of podcasts suck? By the way, these podcasts you see above are pretty damn awesome. You should 100% check them out.

YOU’RE A BAD TALK SHOW HOST

You are the host, it starts with you and so you set the tone and the energy for the podcast. If your energy is low then it reflects in your voice and chances are a lot of us will turn off straight away.

Talk to your guest, engage with them and lead the conversation flow in a logical manner. I have listened to podcasts where the guest goes off on a tangent with some really interesting and awesome insight, then the next question is not a follow up from the host but a boring scripted one which brings you back to the main topic at a screeching halt.

You should have questions laid out but be prepared to break from them and tackle follow ups, if the guest gets deeps then get deep with them. Don’t randomly jump back to what you want to discuss.

The conversation, the extra commentary and the insight is what people are tuning in for. They are giving you something they may not normally give during a regular interview so grab it and take advantage.

There are also people who are podcast hosts and it simply is not for them. Don’t stumble, don’t fumble, don’t bumble your way through sentences. You need to be clear, coherent and easy to both hear and follow. If I can’t follow what you are saying because of your voice tone or pitch and because you are stumbling all over the place then you can bet I’m turning off real quick. The pitch, tone and pace of your voice are absolutely crucial!

Self awareness, what are you going to do if you know you are simply not a great podcast host? Well the logical thing to do is get someone in to lead and drive the flow who is a good host or if you can’t do that or don’t want to do that then practice, practice, practice.

Listen back and be critical of yourself, knowing you may be a weak host means you will be able to do something about it.

THE SHOW IS BORING

Sometimes the content is the problem, boring show titles and boring content can drive people away before they even take the time to listen. Make it interesting, think about content people will want to hear about.

Think about content your audience will want to hear about. Craft the show and topics around what they are interested in, not what you are interested in. The headline is the selling point, just like it is the selling point for an article so make it good. Keep it simple, short and to the point.

When it comes to the content itself, high energy, enthusiasm and a lot of spirit. If you sound like you are half dead or you speak in a low monotonous boring tone then you are doomed. Make sure you are speaking with clarity and articulating what you want to say to the audience clearly.

If you speak with an enthusiastic and high energy tone then that will reflect in your guests and people will want to listen to more.

LISTEN TO YOUR OWN SHOW

Do you listen to your own show? Well you should. I know that most of us don’t like hearing the sound of our own voice being played back to use but it is obvious who listens to their show before publishing and who doesn’t.

Listening back to your show before making it public will allow you to identify if there is a solid direction during the show or if you are all over the place. You will be able to hear if you are speaking clearly or if you are stumbling and you will be able to identify if you are repeating yourself too much.

When you don’t listen to your show it is obvious, you stumble and fall through it. There is a lack of direction from you as the host and you clearly have no idea just how bad you sound to the listener. What happens when you continue like this is that you retain people for 1–2 months and then start noticing a drop off because the reality of podcasting is that people’s attention is so short you need to grab them quick.

POOR AUDIO QUALITY AND NO EDITING

There is nothing worse than poor audio quality in podcasting. Podcasts are all about audio, it is your online radio show! Your listeners can tell the difference between someone who has spend €50-€100 on audio equipment and someone who has spend €300-€400 on audio equipment. It tells straight away and if you are taking podcasting seriously then you are going to have to shell out some cash at the start.

People won’t take interest if you don’t make the investment both in your time and your money. Oh and background audio? Big big no-no. If I play your podcast on my computer speakers I can hear a dim background audio but 9 times out of 10 I listen with my Bose QC 35’s which are a beast of a set of headphones and trust me, the background audio is clear as day. If you have background audio then you need to change location.

And no, background audio does not create an atmosphere or ambience. The only time you can get away with that is when you are covering a live event and you are recording from the show floor.

Editing is crucial, we can tell who takes the time to edit and make necessary cuts when mistakes are made and we can tell who just slaps an intro and outro on it and then puts it live. Edit out the garbage and make it cleaner.

BORING GUESTS

I hate to say it but some guests are more entertaining than others and if your guests are boring and you allow them to be boring then you have a problem. Remember, this is about the listeners, it is not about keeping an individual or a business happy by allowing them on your show. You are working hard on your podcast, you are trying to build it up so you need to make sure the guests are on the same page.

There are a number of things you can do when it comes to guests you feel could be perceived as “boring”.

  1. Train and prep your guests before interviewing them. Now this may not be your strong suit, but just give them a feel for the show and how you like listeners to experience and perceive the show as they listen to you. Something simple as that before hitting the record button can go a long way because guest now know what you want or expect.
  2. Training and prepping is tricky, you can’t come across as an arrogant asshole because you will turn others off in the future if word spreads. If training an prepping guest is not your strong suit then you simply need to be more selective about how appears on your show. Only take guests that you know will be entertaining and informative for your listeners.
  3. If you have high energy and enthusiasm that can then reflect in your guests, they could pick up on your energy and reflect it themselves.

PROVIDE VALUE

The same principle applies to all content here, written, audio or video. Provide value, give them a reason to listen and give them a chance to take something away from the experience. When you provide value to people the rest can end up falling into place and the audience will come.

PROMOTE IT!

Sometimes the biggest problem is the lack of promotion. Too many people say, “I MADE A PODCAST!!”

Great, what do you want? A cookie? How are you getting people to listen to the podcast? You need to be pushing it all over the place.

Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook ads, Newsletters. The one that always gets overlooked here is newsletters, how many of you have an emailing list? When you started the podcast did you send out an email to that list hyping it up? No? Well thats fucking stupid.

Once you create it, the next step is getting people to listen to it and that is always the much harder task.