Category Archives: Podcast Structure

6 Steps To Get Your Listeners To Stick Around …


I was a guest contributor this week to the New Media Expo and BlogWorld Podcasting blog.  It is an article longer than I usually write here.  However, the length allowed me to dig a little deeper into show structure.

You can read the full post here on the NEW MEDIA EXPO SITE.  I hope you enjoy it.  Be sure to leave a comment or two on the entry.

— I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Do You Have The Magic? …

Do you have the magic?

(photo by Maa-Illustrations)

Production elements create the magic of the podcast. If it is missing, your show will sound flat. Solid, well-placed production elements add that element of show biz.

You can add production elements at various points within your show.

The most common production element is the show open. A well-produced show open will make your podcast sound big time. Cliff Ravenscraft has a very strong show open for “Podcast Answer Man“. His introduction incorporates the show network, explains exactly what the podcast is about and contains some great music and sound effects.

You don’t always need a big voice guy to produce your show open for you. Dave Ramsey does his own show open on a daily basis for four or five million people on “The Dave Ramsey Show”. His theme music provides solid consistency and familiarity for his show.

You can also incorporate production elements within your show to add depth. Adam Carolla has a great producer for his podcast. His guy adds sound effects, audio clips and production elements throughout “The Adam Carolla Show”. It sounds just like the big talk shows. Carolla’s show always delivers.

To incorporate sound effects, you don’t need a full-time producer. You don’t even need to add the effects in real-time. This is show business. Sound effects can always be added in post-production.

A solid show close will put a nice bow on the podcast. The elements of your show close should be similar to those of your open. Dan Miller simply uses the same theme music in his show closing as he uses in the opening of “48 Days To The Work You Love”.

Take the time to find some great production elements for your show. Put in a touch of show biz. Production elements create the magic of the podcast.

I’d love to help you with your podcast. Post any questions or comments you might have, or e-mail me at Let’s turn your information into engaging entertainment.

Do you have the magic?

Prepare For Your Show …

Prepare for your show.

(Photo by June-plum)

Before you begin to record your show, you should spend just as much time preparing for the show. It is very similar to mapping out a trip. You not only need to know where you are going, you need to know how to get there.

Many hosts will have an idea of which topics they hope to address on the show. They may have a few e-mail questions to answer or a current event to discuss. That is where most quit. They think, “Well, I have our ideas. Let’s do this.” They then begin recording.

This is a big mistake. You must plan what you hope to do with each topic. How do you hope to answer the questions? What will your opinion be on the current event? Most importantly, how will you present it to your listener?

If you plan to answer an e-mail question only because you think it is a good question, but you do not plan out your answer, you will wade through the answer. It will take you much more time to answer the question than is necessary. Your show will therefore lack momentum. Your listener will become easily bored. When you stumble your way through your answer unprepared, your listener will wonder if you actually know where you are going.

Before you open the mic, plan out your show. Jot down some notes. Write down the few important points you need to mention as you’re answering the question. Then, make sure you stick to your plan.

Dan Miller does a wonderful job of this in his podcast “48 Days to The Work You Love”. He knows exactly which questions he wants to answer in his show. He knows exactly how he wants to answer them. He also has a few solid examples for each answer.

Dan tends to over-promise at the beginning of the show with the questions he hopes to answer. He should either stick to a time limit for each answer, or promise fewer with the potential of a few “bonus” answers at the end if time permits.  Either way, he still has a plan.

Give your show more momentum and energy. It will happen when you prepare for your show.

Take The First Exit …

Take the first exit.

When you are discussing a topic, take the first opportunity to get out of the bit. You will keep your audience engaged. You will maintain the momentum of the show. You will also avoid repeating yourself and becoming boring. Take the first exit.

There are clues in your show that let you know you’ve missed the opportunity to end the bit. When you find yourself saying things like “as I said”, “like I was saying”, or “as we’ve discussed”, you have missed your exit. Those phrases are simply additional ways to say, “let me repeat this again”. Once you have reached that point, you are stating your introduction point again. This should be your conclusion. Move on to the next discussion.

If you miss the exit, you begin retracing your steps. You begin offering information you’ve already provided. Your listener then begins thinking of other things, because they have heard this part before. I got it. Let’s move on.

Only you will know when you’ve offered enough information to make your point. Once you hit that point, keep the show moving. Get to the next topic. Keep your audience engaged. Take the first exit.

Include A Call To Action …

Include a call to action.

If you want to make money with your podcast, you must include a call to action. It seems logical. However, many podcasters believe, “If I build it, they will come.” It simply doesn’t happen that way.

Odd as it may sound, your podcast probably isn’t your product. Unless you are charging for your podcast, your show is only the marketing vehicle for some other product. Most podcasts are free. The show itself isn’t generating revenue. You need to create another product you can sell.

In his book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price”, Chris Anderson lists many ways to create revenue using the power of free. Many of these can be used to generate revenue from your podcast.

Some think access to the audience can be sold to advertisers as if it were traditional broadcasting. Unfortunately, audiences are not typically large enough for this model. Listeners also do not expect the traditional twelve minutes of commercials within their favorite podcast hour. Advertising is usually a very difficult path to revenue.

To generate revenue with your podcast, you need to create something else to sell.

You could make money by making your podcast a small portion of a larger show, which is available to paid members only. The free podcast becomes marketing for the member content.

You could turn your knowledge of some “how to” subject into a book, e-book, study course or other product. Your podcast could be the “why” behind your philosophy. The show would then promote the “how” that your listener will learn when they purchase the product.

There are many other ideas described in Anderson’s book. You could give away the product while charging for the service, such as consulting or coaching. Give away the content while making money referring people to retailers, like affiliate marketing. Rather than traditional advertising, you could give away the content while charging advertisers to be featured in it, similar to The Home Shopping Network. You could even take a cut of sales. You could podcast generic advice while selling specific, customized advice. There are fifty ideas in the book. To make money with your podcast, I suggest you give the book (or at least that section) a read.

If you build it, they may come. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will become instantly wealthy. You need to create something to sell. You need to tell your listener to buy. Then, you need to show them the way. If you desire to make money with your podcast, make sure your podcast includes the call to action.

And Now It’s Time For …


And now it’s time for …

This phrase seems harmless. It looks like a logical transition from one segment to another during your podcast. Unfortunately, this phrase gives your listener permission to leave the show.  It is detrimental to your audience engagement.

When you use “and now it’s time for…” or some similar phrase, it tells the listener that one segment is over and we are moving on to something else. It also signals a natural break in the show and the perfect time to exit. The transition is a lot like a commercial break in a television show. It is time to grab the remote to see what else is available.

Famous American showman P. T. Barnum noticed that people were lingering too long at his exhibits. If he could get them through the exhibit faster, he could get more people through in a day. Barnum posted signs around the exhibit indicating “This Way to the Egress”. Unaware that “Egress” simply meant “Exit”, people followed the signs to what they assumed was a fascinating exhibit only to end up outside.

Take down the “egress” sign. If you truly want to hold your listener from one piece of content to the next, don’t send up the signal. Simply move to the next segment.

Imagine you are at a cocktail party. You are discussing the baseball game that you saw over the weekend. After that topic runs its course, do you say, “Now it’s time to talk about my new car”? I doubt it. You probably just roll right into, “Hey, I bought a new car last week.” It is a natural transition. Your friend doesn’t think, “Hmm, that was a pretty rough transition.” Great storytelling is captivating.  If you use an intriguing introduction, your friend moved on right along with you.

As you wrap up one segment, move right to the next. You might end the first segment with, “If you take those steps, things should be back to normal.” Roll into the next with, “Jackie has a question about teamwork,” and play the call. The next segment just starts. You’ve hooked them on the next segment without opening the door to leave.

Don’t flash the exit sign. Eliminate “and now it’s time for …” to hold your listener for the entire podcast.

Trust Can Be Monetized

Trust can be monetized.

Structure is necessary for your podcast in order to build consistency and trust with your fans. The audience expects specific elements each time they listen to your show. They expect your style to be consistent. Your audience expects the host to be the same for each show. You must deliver to that expectation to build trust with your fans. This trust is where podcast monetization begins.

Think of McDonald’s. When you order a Big Mac at McDonald’s, you expect it to taste exactly like the last Big Mac you purchased and ate. That is true whether you purchased your last Big Mac at the same restaurant, across town, in another state or around the world. You expect it to be consistent. If the Big Mac you purchased today suddenly has mustard and sauerkraut on it, you would be a little hesitant to purchase another next time. You know what you want and want what you know. You want consistency.

Your audience desires the same consistency from your podcast. The consistency gained from the show structure helps the audience feel at ease and comfortable with the program. If your listener is new, she is brought up to speed quickly when you tell her what to expect. If the listener is a returning participant, your introduction causes him to say to himself, “Oh, yeah. Exactly how I remember it. This is the right show.”

If you are watching the news and suddenly there are two new anchors along with different people doing the weather and sports, you will wonder if you’ve somehow stumbled upon the wrong channel. It will feel uncomfortable. It isn’t what you expected.

Consistency helps your audience feel at home. Work to achieve it every time. Consistent structure builds trust. Trust can be monetized.