Looking for Something?

The Secret to Why People Listen: 6 Tips for Podcasters

image of ear

Photo Credit: Dave Kennard

Why do people listen to your podcast?

Take a moment and really think about your answer. What is the true reason a person listens to any podcast or radio show or audio of any kind?

Does she listen to your show because you have the best content?

Is he coming to your show because you have the most attractive voice?

Is it because she is your mom?

What is that magic spell that brings listeners to your show?

The primary reason people listen to any audio is for companionship. People don’t want to be alone. They desire to have someone there beside them.

Companionship is your primary role. All else is secondary.

Your great content, fantastic voice and beloved relationship may keep them coming back for more. However, the primary reason they listen at all is companionship.

There are six secrets to providing a high level of companionship to your listener. If you add a little of each ingredient to your show, you will be well on your way to developing meaningful relationships with your audience.

1. Speak to me, not us.

When you are talking, speak to one person. You are not addressing a crowd. You are talking to an individual.

Audio is a very personal medium. People listen by themselves, even in a group. The imagination of each individual is unique to that person. The listener will envision the details of your story in a very unique way.

When you speak like an announcer does, over the public address system in a supermarket informing a mass of shoppers about sales, you will not make an impression. Just like you ignore the public address system in the supermarket, your listeners will ignore you.

If I write in “group speak” with words like everyone, all of you, and you guys, my writing sounds like I am addressing a group of people.

“You guys should come see me this weekend.” When you read that sentence, you are probably wonder who I am addressing. You are the only one reading this in your head. It sounds out of place.

When you are speaking, it sounds just as out of place. Your listener will wonder to whom you are speaking. They are listening alone. Talk to them as such.

2. Talk to me, not at me.

Have a personal conversation with your listener. When you announce in a third person style, you will sound disconnected. The show will sound like a lecture.

You will sound like an announcer talking at me when you use sentences like, “Podcasters should use a conversational style when addressing their audience.” You talk to me when you say, “You should use a conversational style.”

Be personable and real. That is how companionship is formed. Talk to me, not at me.

3. Make the listener the star.

Shine the spotlight on your listener whenever you can. Make them feel like they are the star of the show. Shower them with praise every chance you get.

If a listener sends in a great question, point it out. When your listener makes a great point, let the spotlight shine. Compliment them for adding content that improves your show. Above all, thank them for participating.

If a listener makes a mistake, be careful how you address it. You can turn it into something great. Your response might be, “That is a great point. Many people also believe that. However, it is a myth that started with an incorrect article many years ago. I’m glad you brought that up.” This makes the listener feel like they are adding something to the show, even when their information was incorrect.

When you make your listener the star, the glow comes back to you. The audience will think you are a great person by helping your listener. Other people will be more likely to interact with the show if they feel you will also make them a star.

People like people who are nice and share the credit.

4. Don’t waste my time

When you say you are going to discuss a topic, focus on that topic. Tangents, sidetracks and other non-essential elements to the story waste the time of your listener. Have respect for their time.

If a listener has taken time to listen to your show, treat that time as gold. Deliver on your promise. When you tell your listener that you plan to discuss proper care of an eggplant, deliver. If you begin telling me how rabbits got in your yard last weekend, you are failing. Your listener came for a discussion on eggplants.

Make sure each piece of content is moving the show forward. Don’t waste their time. Keep your listener engaged. Companionship involves respect.

5. Put me in the moment.

Telling stories is an art. When you make your listener feel like they are right there as the story happens, you are creating magic. Find a way to put them in the moment.

Start in the world of your listener.

Let’s say you have a story about taxes. Your listener is already losing interest. Your audience will be gone when you start the tale as many do with, “Government is considering another tax increase next year.”

You can begin at the point of the listener by simply reworking the introduction. “It sounds like you might have fewer dollars in your pocket after the first of the year.” This introduction piques my interest and gets me to pay attention. The story is now about me.

When you take time to make the story about me, you show me that you believe my thoughts, feelings, opinions and time are important.  Showing compassion is a crucial step toward companionship.

6. Care.

This is pretty simple.

When you care about your audience, they will care about you. It is the law of reciprocity. When I give you something, you feel compelled to give me something in return.

Be genuinely interested in your audience. Help them get what they want. Help them solve their problems.

Caring is a primary element of companionship. Whenever possible, show your listener you care.


Companionship is the primary reason people listener to audio. They don’t want to be alone. People desire friendship. It is a natural, human instinct. Help them experience it.

Follow these six steps and become a companion. Before you know it, your companionship will become friendship. That friendship will build trust. Soon, you will have long-time listeners, customers and fans. Your mom would be proud.


  • Jason Carr

    Great advice Erik! I never really thought of the true reason that people listen to podcasts but as someone that listens to podcasts frequently while traveling, I can see now that this is indeed true. I’ll keep this in mind on my future podcast as well…thanks so much for sharing this knowledge! 

    • Erik K Johnson

       @Jason Carr Thanks, Jason,  Many people miss the real reason people tune in.  If you start in the world of your listener, creating a strong relationship becomes much easier.  Your “call to action” holds more weight.

  • Rob Usdin

    I do a presentation on connecting with podcast listeners at Podcamps and many of these are things that I use in my presentation. These are things quite honestly that radio people have known for a LONG time, and which I try to impress upon podcasters as being essential to connecting with your audience. Having come up from radio for many years, I know these things innately. GReat post!

Learn About NMX


Recent Comments