Regularly evaluating and critiquing your own your podcast, especially from your audience's perspective, will help you improve and grow the podcast. Here are four steps to get you started.
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1. Save your podcast for later
It's important to add some distance between yourself and the podcast episode you want to evaluate. The longer you wait, the more you will have changed and the more likely you'll be to no longer have the information fresh on your mind. Thus, when you consume the podcast later, your perspective can be fresh enough that you have no context for the content.
With no context, you can then see how well your podcast stands alone.
2. Consume your podcast like your audience does
To help put you in the place of your audience, consider the classic five W's and one H: who, what, when, where, how, and why.
- Who is consuming your podcast? Are they working guys in their 20s? Are they stay at home moms? Are they seniors with limited technology?
- What other podcasts might your audience be comparing yours to? What would compel them to listen to your podcast over others?
- When is your audience consuming your podcast? Do they consume before you publish your next episode? Do they consume during the week, or on a weekend?
- Where is your audience consuming your podcast? Driving? Working? Relaxing? Are there distractions?
- How is your audience consuming your podcast? Headphones? High-speed? On a computer, or on a mobile device?
- Why is your audience consuming your podcast? What profit is in it for them?
You may be able to get this exact information by surveying your audience, or you may have to assume some things.
Listen to “8 ways people consume podcasts and how to make a better experience” to gain some more perspective.
The word “avatar” is often used in conversations about your audience. What most people mean when they say, “your avatar” is actually “your audience's avatar.” Because you want a representation of your audience (their avatar) and not a representation of yourself (your avatar).
3. Critique your podcast as if it is someone else's
It's often said that we are our own worst critics, but I think our pride often makes us too gentle on ourselves.
If you have ever received negative criticism, it can inspire a useful perspective for critiquing your own podcast. For example, if someone says that your information isn't helpful, imagine you don't know anything about the subject, and then try to learn about it from yourself.
In a way, a critical perspective is similar to how you listen and look for things to edit. But critiquing is broader. Instead of merely looking at the small details, look at the overall message. For example, instead of counting your ums, listen for how easy it is to follow and understand the idea being shared. Or consider how much you talk about yourself instead of providing value to others.
Something may even help get you in the right perspective is if you listen to an episode of a podcast that annoys you—even if it's a different niche. This irritation can fuel extra negativity, so make sure you use it to critique yourself and not attack others!
4. Check the tech
Podcasting is a combination of all kinds of technology. There's a lot that could go wrong, so it's easy to imagine how many people can be overwhelmed (and thus make poor decisions).
Check the different, audience-affecting pieces of your technology. Here are some examples:
- Volume levels: Within a single episode, across episodes, and compared to other podcasts
- Sound quality: Is it easy to hear and understand what's being said?
- Compatibility: Does your podcast work in different players and apps? Does your website work well on mobile devices?
- Call-to-action processes: If you ask your audience to do something, do it yourself first, and maybe even on someone else's device. This will ensure everything works, that you're giving accurate instructions, and maybe inspire ways to simplify.
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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.
Hey, Daniel! I’m Thiago, from Brazil, and I host a podacst about fatherhood here. It’s in portuguese, so I don’t think it would be worth mentioning its name anyway.
Just wanted to jump in and say I did what you asked, I listened to your very first episode and boy! It’s completely different! There were some long pauses that even made me think I had a problem with my player.
Also, I could notice some buzzing going on the background, specially when you were speaking.
But by far, the thing I noticed the most was how your speaking dramatically improved! Unless you do some heavy editing in current episodes, you have a really really strong speaking now.
That’s actually one of the problems I face right now with my podcast. Since we’re not pros, we run into several “hummms” and “ahhhs”, which I end up editing out after recording the show.
Thanks for all your work, it definitely helps me improve my podcast!