5 Ways To Help Your Podcast Stand Out


There are approximately 20 million podcasts available for download across the world. Most of them are probably crap. For many, that’s okay. They just want the experience of doing a podcast, they don’t really care about the listener. But for many of us, though we don’t have the greatest equipment and resources, we want to sound like we do. Since we’re poor and ill-equipped we have to find more creative ways (read: cheaper) to pull off that professional air we’re going for. Here are a few tips that I give when someone asks me how to help their podcast stand out from the crowd.

Open Strong

Intros are typically music, often layered with sound effects and a voice over… but that’s not what I’m talking about. The moment your intro stops playing, you need to be able to support that same energy with just your voice. I despise shows that have an excellent intro theme (“You’re about to hear the BEST podcast in the world”) but then it drops out to a horribly quiet, timid or unprepared host (“Um, hi. I’m Stan. Um. I don’t want, um, listeners”).

Scripting your opening will help. That means you’re writing out what you’re going to say, and saying it consistently to open every show. The script should include your show’s title, a tagline, introducing the host, co-hosts and/or guests. Some folks add a pre-cap (in post production) letting the listeners know what they can expect to hear. Your opening is for your new listeners. So script it with them in mind.

Don’t Say Everything That Comes To Mind

Don’t discuss pre-show technical mistakes. Stay focused on your topic. Don’t have conversations live that you should have had before the show. Don’t let distractions during the recording be distracting. Remember to talk to the listener. That will help you describe things as you would to someone over the phone rather than the way you would to someone in the same room. When you discuss things they can’t see, it’s frustrating.

Inside jokes between hosts are also frustrating for the listener. If something interrupts the flow and forces you to hit stop, edit it out later rather than coming back in and spending 5 minutes explaining the break. Throw in a sound effect and keep going if you can’t make it seamless.

Work On Mic Placement and Technique

Most of us don’t have fancy limiters and compressors. It’s just a cheap USB mic (if even that) and a volume slider. The important thing then is to keep voice volumes consistent by keeping heads a consistent distance from the mic. This is especially important if you’re recording two or more people with a single mic. Everyone should sit the same distance from the mic… and should sit still!

One thing you can do (for free) to improve your vocals is to run them through Levelator. This is a free app that does wonderful things to your spoken audio. If one of your hosts is quieter, Levelator will fix that. It’s pretty amazing.

Have Content Worth Listening To

No matter what topic you cover on your show, there are thousands like it out there already. What are you going to bring to your listeners that sets it apart? Don’t spend the whole time laughing at one another. That makes the listener feel like they’re outside of your group. That’s the exact opposite of what you want them to feel. Write out show notes outlining what you want to talk about… and stick to it. Consider dividing your show into segments. Do them in the same order every show. People like consistency.

Consistent Audio Levels

If your opening music is louder than your voices, it will irritate your listeners. The listener sets their volume by the opening volume so try to make them “sound” the same volume.

Long As Necessary, Short As Possible

There is no podcast on the face of the earth than needs to be longer than an hour. As you record keep track of the time. Figure out how long you want to spend on the topics in your notes and mark them. If you’re doing a 15 minute show, keep it constantly to 15 minutes. An hour show? Keep it to an hour. Time limits will help you keep on topic and stay interesting. I used to keep a digital kitchen timer next to my computer to help me.

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