Strategies & Tactics

From Ear to Ear: How to Captivate a Podcast Listener

February 4, 2019

[brainslev nenin]
[brainslev nenin]

For storytellers, the audio format has its clear advantages.

While videos and articles often require the full, undivided attention of an audience, podcasts let the listener multitask. You can exercise, cook dinner and even accomplish other work while you take in an audio piece.

“The advantage of a podcast is that it is decoupled from the tyranny of the clock,” says Steve Lubetkin, APR, Fellow PRSA, managing partner of The Lubetkin Media Companies LLC and co-author of “The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion From the Personal to the Professional.” “You can listen to it at your convenience, and you can stop and go back whenever you want.”

However, in demanding less of the listener, podcasters need to make sure their content is strong enough to maintain their audience’s attention. Here is Lubetkin’s recipe for creating captivating audio. 

On setting the scene:

“Writing for the ear is quite different than writing for print or web. You need to think about sounds and music that will help focus the listener on the story, especially environmental sounds if the podcast is intended to transport the listener to a distant place, a factory, an unusual [setting]. Natural sound is one of the things podcasters often forget to capture and it makes all the difference.

To captivate a podcast listener, you need to create audio that makes them feel like they are participating in a journey to someplace they might not otherwise go.”

On narrating effectively:

“The most important aspects of podcasting are subject matter expertise and a confident, but not arrogant, approach to the material. Hosts who shout clichés at the audience or do monologues on “how to be as successful as me” are going to turn off the wider audience. Honest factual reporting and interesting guests passionate about their topic — whether it’s a podcast about actuarial analysis or dental implants — are always going to find a passionate fan base in the niche where they reside.”

On connecting with the listener:

“People respond positively to podcasts where leaders challenge them to engage in the management of their career, especially. Last year, we produced a podcast series where the CEO of a large multinational company responded to emails from employees. After the first episode, he got an email from someone telling him the specific steps she was taking to enhance her own skills to move her career forward.

That kind of engagement and connection is a win for the communications plan and for the podcast initiative.”

Dean Essner

Dean Essner is the editorial assistant for PRSA’s publications. A former resident of Washington, D.C., he holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English from the University of Maryland. Email: dean.essner@prsa.org.

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