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How to get people to listen to your podcast


Wakey wakey! Hannah McNamara gives us the essentials on getting optimum engagement from your podcast.
Whether you're creating a podcast as part of a mobile learning programme or to showcase what you can do as a trainer, it's wasted effort if no one listens to it. Just as in live training sessions there are certain techniques to getting people to pay attention so that people to listen all the way to the end of your podcast.

Think about the audience

Put yourself in the mindset of the learner and consider both their experience level and their interests. Before recording the podcast, try to make time to talk to some of the learners to find out what their priorities are and the language they usually use. For example, a podcast on management for software developers would most likely need to have a different tone and style from a management podcast for sales people for them to fully engage with it. 

Appeal to different learning styles

Although a podcast will appeal primarily to auditory learners, you can build in elements that will appeal to people with other learning styles. Options include getting them to write things down and/or interact by setting exercises. For example you could ask listeners to pause the recording to complete the exercise.

Write a good headline and synopsis

Compare a podcast entitled 'An introduction to management' to another entitled 'The five essential skills of an effective manager'. Which do you think people are more likely to want to hear? The job of the headline is to get people's attention. In marketing there is a model called AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. The headline's job is to get the learner's Attention, the synopsis is there to keep them Interested enough to want (Desire) to listen to the podcast and finally, the Actions you want them to take are to download and listen to it. A very useful skill in the freelance trainer's toolkit is the ability to write catchy headlines which will grab the attention of learners. The in-house trainer will also find this useful and consider whether you could enlist the help of the marketing manager in your organisation – they may be flattered you asked for their assistance and give you some handy suggestions for the format of headlines.

Raise expectations

Following the well-used adage "Tell them what you're going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you've told them" begin the podcast with an introduction and synopsis of what the podcast will cover, and summarise it again at the end. Although the subject and content may have been made clear in the description of the podcast, there's no guarantee that people will remember more than the headline. Plus there may be a gap between someone downloading the podcast to their device and getting around to listening to it. Raise the learner's expectations by telling them what they will learn and what they will be able to do as a result of listening to the podcast.

Keep it practical

Everybody is busy and having got people to the point where they are listening to the podcast, it would be a shame to lose their interest. This generally happens when the podcast presenter talks in jargon the listeners are not familiar with or focuses too heavily on theory without any practical application of what they are learning. Even if the job of the podcast is to teach theory, make a point of reinforcing how the theory can be used in practice. One way to do this is to give examples of how the theoretical principles have been used by someone else.

Give a reason to listen all the way to the end

The earlier example of a podcast called 'The 5 essential skills of an effective manager' shows one way to get people to listen all the way to the end. Learners want to know what all five essential skills are – even if they know the first four, they still want to listen to the end in case the fifth is something they didn't already know! To make this technique work, don't give the game away at the start by telling them the five skills you'll be covering. Keep them a mystery until you reveal each one. A variation on this technique is to use an acronym where the first letter of each key point spells out a word – this also aids retention of the information.

Keep them hungry for more

Podcasts are usually part of a series, so how do you get people to listen to all the podcasts in the series? By referring to another podcast in the series during the one you're presenting. Don't try to cover everything there is to know about a topic in a 30-minute or one-hour podcast. Home in on a detail and expand on it, then explain that another detailed point is explored in another podcast or other learning materials.

Make listening to the podcast a required part of their personal development plan

As an in-house trainer you can be a little more prescriptive about what people need to listen to, so build into the podcast questions which can only be answered by studying it. Answering questions based on the content of the podcast can form part of their development. The effectiveness of the podcast can be enhanced by integrating it with other forms of learning. For example a podcast could be used to embed learning from a live training course or as part of the resource library for an in-house or external coaching programme.
Hannah McNamara is the Managing Director of HRM Coaching Ltd. She has been recording podcasts since 2005. Hannah works with in-house L&D professionals to aid employee engagement by blending coaching, mentoring and training to suit the learner's needs 

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