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6 Steps to Get Your Listeners To Stick Around

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(photo by Cossac)

To keep your listener coming back for more, make her comfortable. It is like she is meeting an old friend again. Most people know what they like and like what they know. To get your listeners to stick with your show, build a solid structure. Then, be creative within it.

Think of your favorite talk show. Can you see the structure? Late night talk hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman follow a structure with an opening monologue, a comedy segment, two guest interviews and a band performance. Radio call-in shows like “The Dave Ramsey Show” and “The Clark Howard Show” will structure their show with an opening and monologue followed by calls from listeners. Successful shows follow a format.

I often hear podcasters say, “We don’t have a format. We just talk about whatever is on our minds.” This is a mistake. Your listener expects quality and consistency. They want to be assured they are getting what they expect. Consistency makes your listener comfortable.

Structure doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and ad lib on your show. A structure simply means you have a well-defined plan. You need to know where you’re going and how you plan to get there. More importantly, your listener needs to know that you know. A consistent structure conveys that message.

Here are six elements you can add to your show to quickly build some structure:

1. Include an Intriguing introduction

New listeners will constantly join your podcast. You cannot assume every listener has heard the first episode or any episode that happened before this one. Tell your new listener what to expect from your show every time you record a new podcast.

Your introduction should be succinct and intriguing. You have about thirty seconds to convince your listener to stick around for the rest of the show. Tell them who you are and what you do in a general sense. Next, tell them what to expect from this specific show. Finally, tell them how to get involved with the podcast.

“Welcome to the Podcasters Podcast. My name is Erik K. Johnson. Over the next 30 minutes, we will answer your questions about transforming your podcast from average information into engaging entertainment and we will turn your relationships into cash.”

With that quick introduction, I told you exactly what to expect. You know the name of my fictitious podcast. You know the name of the host, exactly how long the podcast will run, and the goal for the show. I’ve also put you in the mix by referencing your dreams and how my podcast will help you. In those brief seconds, I’ve told you who, what, when and why.

Your introduction must be intriguing. On his show “48 Days Podcast,Dan Miller discusses the possibility of finding work you love. He hooks his listeners right from the start.

“Today we are going to talk about work” is not intriguing. That will not create any desire to stick around to hear what you have to say, especially for 30 minutes or an hour. For many, talking about work is like watching paint dry. Dan opens with “Do you love your work? Do you think it’s possible? Well, you’re about to find out.” Dan is intriguing.

“Today we are going to answer four e-mails to help these individuals escape their dreaded 9-to-5 and get into their dream jobs.” That is a statement that will stir some emotion and make people listen through to the end.

A great introduction welcomes new listeners to the group while making regular listeners feel comfortable.

2. Details That Delight

Details captivate the imagination of your listener. Your podcast should contain great stories that engage your audience. Put your listener in the story by adding delightful details.

“It was a muggy, hot lunchtime. We ducked into the cool, dark shade of the thick woods where the sun was barely visible through the dense leaves. My eyes hadn’t yet adjusted to the leaf-covered path when I lost my footing near the edge of an embankment. I ended up landing on my hip and rolling head-over-feet down the fairly steep, 10-foot drop where I promptly landed on my butt in the muddy mess below. My legs were completely covered in mud as if I had been rolling in it for hours.”

With the delightful details of that story, you can almost feel yourself in the woods. You can see the muddy mess in your mind. You can smell the thick, wooded area. Details help your listener experience the story rather than just hearing it.

3. Call To Action

Your podcast should encourage your listener to take action. The most common action we desire is listening again. Other possibilities include buying our product, visiting our website, or getting involved with our cause.

To get our listeners to act, we must include a call to action. It seems logical. However, many podcasters believe, “If I build it, they will come.” It simply doesn’t happen that way. Remember to always include a call to action. People won’t buy unless you ask them to buy.

4. Remove The Breaks

Be sure your show flows. Do not break the podcast into parts. When you make one segment sound like it ends, making a break appear, the listener has a chance to exit.

When you say, “Now it’s time for…” you have just made one segment end and another begin. You’ve given the audience the signal that the portion of the show they were just enjoying is now over, and you’re moving on to something different. If they want to get out, now is the time.

Avoid giving them the chance to leave by keeping the show one continuous, smooth piece of work. Simply start the next element without setting it up with a qualifier.

5. Help Your Audience

If your entire product and marketing strategy is focused on you, it will be very difficult to retain listeners. People are interested in themselves. As good as you might be, your listener will still wonder what is in it for them.

As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Make it clear how your listener benefits by your content. Focus on helping your audience.

Your customer is not interested in your product. She is interested in what your product can do for her. The content of your podcast must relate to your listener at all times. Make sure you position your content from the point of view of your listener. Nobody wants to watch your home movies unless they are in them.

6. A Powerful Conclusion

When you reach the end, thank your audience. Give them a nice conclusion summarizing the show, and let them know where they can get more. You might send them to your website, invite them to join your group on a social media site, or simply remind them when the next podcast will be posted.

Just like speech class, your conclusion should restate your introduction almost word-for-word. It should also contain your call to action.

Put It In Place

Follow these six steps, and you will quickly add some solid structure to your show. Even if you don’t have the desire to grow your audience to huge levels, you will need to replace the natural attrition your podcast will experience. You will always have listeners who stop listening for various reasons, such as no need, replaced by another, no longer entertained, or replaced the computer/phone with the rss feed.

As you attract new listeners to continue to fill the funnel, you must immediately hook and welcome these people to the party. A structure will help you do that. Make your listener comfortable. Most people know what they like and like what they know. Build your structure. Then, be creative within it.

What have you added to your podcast to create structure? How has it helped your audience grow? Share it below, and help others learn.


  • WordsDoneWrite

    I love #4, Erik. That’s something I can see making a big difference in someone’s podcast. I think people believe transitions create clarity, but now that you point it out I can see how the host is doing nothing more than providing a bail out point. Great thing to consider!

    • Erik K Johnson

       @WordsDoneWrite Exactly!  When you’re having a discussion at a party, you wouldn’t say, “It sounds like the kids are doing well.  Now it’s time to talk about your golf game.”  You would simply roll right into the discussion. Podcasts should be the same. There is no need for any elaborate segue.

  • VoIP phone service

    Great post! It is really good that we all know how to communicate properly where in our listener don’t get bored to us. Thanks for this again!

    • Erik K Johnson

       @ VoIP phone service Thanks for the comment.  People will sometimes make communicating harder than it needs to be.  When you speak conversationally, your show will sound more natural and be more engaging.  Some feel they need to be more eloquent than necessary.

  • Danielle

    Thank you so much for this. I am in the process of structuring and recording my first podcast episode! I was feeling a bit stumped! I do have to remind myself that things aren’t going to be perfect this first episode!

    • Erik K. Johnson

      Indeed. The first episode is always the hardest. Don’t feel like you need to put everything into one show. You’ll have plenty of time. Pick a particular topic or theme. Lay it out with this structure. Before you know it, you’ll have more show than you need. Have fun with it, Danielle.

  • Dainty

    Thank you so much, Erik…. I have an online radio, although on break at the moment cos i’m learning how radio works and also communications…..This is a good one, Thanks.

    • Erik Johnson

      My pleasure, Dainty. Good luck with the show. The more shows you create, the more you will improve. Keep at it!

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