Fewer Words = Better Podcast

  • November 12, 2018

Something I notice a lot of podcasters do is confuse "bulk" with value. In other words, they think a long episode provides more value to a listener than a short episode.

Not true. Value happens when you get to the point of what you're talking about and are able to provide listeners with solutions to their problems, answers to their questions, or if you've got an entertainment podcast, a remedy for their boredom.

Rik Roberts, host of The School Of Laughs podcast, knows all about this. As a standup comic for over 20 years, he's had plenty of stage time to figure out what works and what doesn't when delivering his message.

Rik advises upcoming comics working on their standup routines to "write tight." When working with a comic, he'll literally go through every single word of a joke, taking out all unnecessary words, so that the comic is able to get to the punch line (and the laugh) faster.

The result is the comic is now able to deliver the same joke quicker than before.

Why is this important?

Standup sets are timed with new comics getting as little as three minutes on stage. Fewer words per joke mean a comic can deliver more jokes and get more laughs in his allotted time.

Don't Be This Guy

Here's what happens when the opposite of "write tight" is used to create podcast episodes. These are actual reviews of a podcast (ironically) on the subject of productivity and being more efficient:

“I’ve tried to listen to 5 episodes. I’ve only made it through 2 and that’s because they were shorter. These podcasts are mostly too long for me (2h 45min for one). Would be ok if the content was engaging but it’s not. And it feels lazy on his part. Like he doesn’t want to put the effort in to make the content more succinct and less repetitive.”

“Hearing [name removed] drone on gets old fast…”

“His ideas are great but he has trouble articulating his points in an entertaining fashion.”

“This show has no direction. It’s like listening to two guys hang out in the frat house. And it’s WAY TOO LONG. For somebody who has made a career out of ‘hacking’ things, you’d think he’d be better at getting to the point.”

“His interviews are ok, but just listening to him droning on is awful.”

What Listeners Want

Even if your podcast has your name in its title, it's not about you, it's about your listeners. And listeners want episodes that fit into their busy lives.

This means you need to think ahead about time limits, before you outline or write anything. It means you need to edit what isn't absolutely necessary from that outline before you record and, after you record, edit the unnecessary content that accidentally slipped through.

If your content is too long, listeners get exhausted.

And when podcast listeners get exhausted, they stop listening. Forever.

You won’t make fans by wearing them down with long episodes. You make fans by being deliberate in the content you create and getting to the point.

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