Keeping listeners engaged can be a challenge when podcasting becomes repetitive, mundane, or stuck in a rut. Maybe your podcast’s audience has plateaued; the numbers aren’t going down…but they aren’t going up, either. You may be wondering whether your show is as compelling as it could be, but aren’t sure how to make it better.
Creative doldrums can happen to anyone, on any project, but they aren’t always a bad thing. In fact, they can be a normal and necessary part of podcasting.
Much of podcasting is a process, with familiar steps to produce every episode, again and again. But the process can make it easy to fall into a creative rut, with each episode and story sounding more and more alike. And when that happens, listener engagement tends to drop.
To engage listeners, get out of the box.
To break free from a podcast rut, get to the root of the tension. Break out of your habits. You know how to make a podcast, so do some different things, or do some things differently. Experience new ways of looking at content and your topics.
That’s easier said than done, so here are some practical steps to help you regain the creative edge and engage listeners with every new podcast episode.
Immerse yourself in other media.
That podcast series you bookmarked but haven’t listened to yet? Now’s the time to tap “play”. Discovering and diving into new content will help you become an active listener again, and will refresh your creativity.
You engage listeners by telling them stories, so try a new TV series, watch a documentary, or read a new book and pay attention to how the creators use storytelling to present information. Consider whether they effectively got you actively engaged in the story, and why you liked (or disliked) it.
Here are some recommendations for interesting content you can consider: what we at Voxtopica have loved.
- Black Holes: The Edge of All We Know Documentary
- The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks by Susan Casey
- A History of the World in 100 Objects
- Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh
Stories about people keep listeners engaged.
There may be stories that will drive listener engagement that your podcast planning process is missing. Do some digging to find out. Ask colleagues and your organization’s partners about stories they’ve heard that affected them, and be open-minded about how these stories might work in a podcast.
It’s useful to explain why a topic is important, but listeners will be more engaged when they hear stories about that topic’s impact on real people. Stories like these can remind you why you started the podcast, and break you out of your creative rut.
Powerful stories can also reframe how you plan episodes, pushing you to focus on telling stories rather than just completing the next episode to meet a deadline.
Learn what keeps your listeners engaged with a survey.
If you’re curious about presenting content in a more compelling way, ask your audience what they find compelling. Through a survey, your most active listeners will tell you what they love and what they want to hear from your show. Their feedback will definitely spur new ideas about your podcast.
When you refresh your content based on feedback, you gain listeners’ trust and encourage their continued engagement, ensuring they are consistent, long-term fans of your show.
By the way, listener feedback can also help demonstrate to stakeholders just how important key audiences find your content. Contact us to learn about Voxtopica’s listener survey capabilities.
Become an active listener.
Organizations sometimes let “corporate communications” dominate their podcasts. These official rules and boundaries can be important, but they may not always fit a medium like podcasting.
Break out of this kind of creative rut by thinking of yourself as one of your podcast listeners, and consider what would keep you actively engaged. Does your podcast content keep listeners engaged and coming back episode after episode?
This doesn’t mean that what you want in a podcast is what your listeners want, but you may find that the things you love most about listening to podcasts aren’t a part of the podcast you make, possibly because you’re afraid it might sound unprofessional or inconsistent with “corporate communications”.
Just consider this: Would your listeners be more engaged if you gave them what they truly want instead of just what corporate communications wants them to have?
Talk to other podcasters.
Whether you know it or not, you’re part of a podcast creator community that is tens of thousands of people strong, so you aren’t in this alone. Speak with others in the podcast community, most of whom will have experienced all the same struggles as you.
If your show is for an organization, talk with your counterparts who produce podcasts at other organizations about the challenges and ideas you have. Getting another podcaster’s feedback can really inspire you to refresh your thinking..
Voxtopica can help connect you with other organizational podcasters if you’d like.
Talk with Voxtopica if you’re in a creative rut.
The team at Voxtopica has produced more than 30 podcasts. We have experienced creative fatigue and helped clients overcome their own doldrums. We’re passionate about helping experts make great podcasts that engage listeners, and we’re here to help with fresh thoughts and concepts that you haven’t considered before. Call us.