4. May I have your attention, please?
Welcomed, drawn in and released. Podcasting holds us from beginning to end without jarring or stuttering, just steady progress at the right pace and with a common thread—plus the occasional surprise. Conforming enough for the fresh and distinctive to feel familiar and welcoming—but with an extra zing! [Part of the Good Podcasting Works Manifesto]
How long will people listen before jumping off to the next thing?
The average attention span is short and getting shorter (the exact figure depends on which country and age group you are thinking of). It is estimated at somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes (I have seen 8 seconds quoted but I thought that was Dory in Finding Nemo).
How long is the average podcast? Around 40 mins though trending shorter. What is the right lentgth for a podcast episode?
Whatever the real number, you can see we face a challenge.
Keeping attention is going to demand excellent content and a good steady flow through the episode – without hesitation, deviation or repetition. And we get to do that every week (or whatever your publishing frequency is). Getting started with podcasting is easy but keeping going requires hard work and a sense of direction and purpose. We can get to the how after we have worked out the why.
One way of keeping attention is not to be predictable. Don’t go too wild for now but while keeping familiarity, try to introduce something distinct and ideally surprising. If you do it well, it can feel expected even when it is new. This is because it is in keeping with your voice which your audience has come to know. Remember your audience has expectations of you. Try to both meet and exceed them.
With extra zing!
And definitely don’t forget to add some extra ‘zing’ now and again! If everything has sparkles, it will not stand out. Go for something that suits both you and your audience.
- Are your episodes the right length for your audience? (have you asked them?)
- Are you consistent (with a bit of variation)?
- What can you do for some ‘zing’ in your podcast?