The First 60 Seconds: Start Your Podcast Off with a Bang

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What makes a great podcast? Well, there are plenty of things, such as an engaging host, a stimulating voice, a unique show structure, fantastic content, catchy music, and even a brilliant, trademarked title. 

While this is certainly not a comprehensive list of things that make a show great, it can be the difference between developing a long-time listener and losing a listener right from the jump. Whether a listener stumbles upon your show by searching for a keyword, finds it by accident, or has simply taken the recommendation of a friend, the first 60 seconds of your show could be life or death.

Okay, maybe it’s not that serious, but without the right approach, it could be the only 60 seconds the listener ever hears.

It is important to grab the attention of the listener as soon as you can. There are over 700,000 podcasts for any one person to listen to, available on one of over 20 podcasting apps. 

Personally, if a friend recommends a podcast for me to listen to, I’m likely to give it a shot. After all, I trust my friend and they must like it for a reason.  On the flipside, if I find a podcast through search or suggestion I am less likely to give it a full episode or even half an episode. It has to pull me in. 

Audio Quality Matters

So how can a podcast episode draw a listener in?? There is one key ingredient:  great audio quality. If you start a show off sounding like you’re in a tunnel talking across the table at your laptop mic, then I’m clicking stop faster than The Flash. 

The listener is giving you their time to consume your content, so be courteous to them and make sure it's easy to listen to. 

You want the listener to focus on what you are saying and not be distracted by a bunch of background noise or poor audio quality. Starting off your show with great audio quality makes you sound professional. Even if you’re just starting out, the better quality the audio, the better chance you have that a listener sticks around to hear what you have to say. 

There are plenty of ways to make your show sound amazing, but really, you just need to test out the equipment you have in a variety of locations to find out what sounds best. Then test some more, test a little bit more, and then test even more. If the equipment is an issue, there are a lot of affordable options out there to create a professional sound.The right mic coupled with the right environment is a recipe for success.

Make-or-Break Music

After you have mastered your audio quality, the next task is finding catchy music to use as your show theme song. This will help set the mood for your show. It does not matter what type or style of show you have. Just find music that will put the listener in the right mood and mindset to enjoy your content. 

Don’t just find some random song - take time to choose the right song for your show. Also, as a side note, make sure to use a royalty-free music website unless you can get a license from the artist to use their music. You don’t want to get sued just because you wanted to use a famous song for your podcast. 

Get off on the Right Foot

Another idea is at the beginning of your podcast, you might want to add a highlight from the episode. While this may not make sense for every episode, when done right, it can be a great hook for a listener. They will now know a little more of the context of the content they are about to consume. If it’s an interview style show, most of the time, you are going to want to use a highlight of something ear-popping the guest said. Your listener will be intrigued by this and will be listening to the episode with anticipation for that part of the conversation. 

What you don’t want to do is bore the listener with a long intro about the show, yourself, the guest, or the content they are about to consume. Do something quick and get into the meat of the show. The listener is tuning in for a reason, so let them hear that and get on with the episode. If you happen to be monetizing your show and getting advertising dollars, please, whatever you do, do not put the ad at the beginning of your show. This is another reason someone might click stop on a new podcast they are listening to. 

Even when you know your audience and what they may want to hear, it still may not be enough. If your audio quality is poor, why would someone want to go through on that rollercoaster? If you don’t sound like a professional, why should they take you seriously with the content you are providing?