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You’ve seen them. You know, those people. The ones who loudly talk to the voices only they can hear. Whereas such behavior was once a sign of a serious mental illness, now it usually points merely to gross inconsideration. These people jabber through their Bluetooth headsets, acting as if their conversation is more important than the peace of those around them. In the street. In a shop. And worse, on the bus during the daily commute.
They’re inescapable, so they force the rest of us into our own little world, retreating in an attempt to block them out. Our headphone cords drip off our jaws into a thin, white cascade that disappears somewhere in our pocket while we watch the city roll past. We listen to music. We listen to books. We listen to podcasts.
People love stories and get absolutely lost in them. The best songs often tell a story. It’s amazing how a short three-minute song can inspire listeners to laugh or move them to tears. It’s in the storytelling, something to which listeners can personally relate.
Books tell a story, of course, even nonfiction books, keeping the readers (or audiobook listeners) engaged, regardless of what’s happening around them. The musicians and authors of these works capture their audience through storytelling.
Tell Me, Teach Me
Podcasters connect in intimate conversations with people all over the world. The best podcasters offer their listeners not only entertainment or education, but they also serve up a slice of their hearts. Their passion. Their soul. To make this connection, a podcaster must engage their audience, which might prove difficult since many podcasters are talking to themselves when they record alone in a room with little more than a computer and microphone.
One way to captivate your audience is by good, old-fashioned storytelling. Even if you’re presenting history or a lesson, a storytelling style can enthrall your listeners, making you and your podcast memorable. Dynamic storytelling starts with a hook, tells a story, and then ends with an opportunity to reflect on what they’ve just heard:
Hook. Story. Sink-In.
Ensure your voice holds the appropriate tone and inflection to demonstrate your passion for the subject. Passion is contagious. Share it. Indulge in it. When your podcasts incorporate a topic that’s both meaningful to you and benefits your listeners, you’ll find your audience growing quickly.
Preparation and Trust
Prepare for your podcast with thorough research and at least a general outline to organize your thoughts. Avoid rigidity; rather, allow the creative flow to turn that stale, scripted monologue into a living, changing flow of ideas, hitting the most important points multiple times in unique ways. After all, you’re having a conversation with the world.
If you offer a product or service, resist the urge to turn your podcast into a lengthy sales pitch. As long as the content benefits your audience, they’ll listen. Once they hear your passion, they’ll come back for more, which will inevitably lead them to your website where you tastefully have links that sell said product or services.
By that time, you’ve earned their trust, so they know they will get their money’s worth.
In short, ensure your content captivates your audience by making it relevant to their lives, conversational in tone, and narrative in style. The most engaging podcasts have a personal element, whether through storytelling or teaching. If done well, listeners feel as if they are in a private conversation with an expert, expanding their knowledge or just pleasantly passing the time.
They not only get to know the subject, but they also get to know the podcaster.