8 ways people consume podcasts and how to make a better experience

© 2013 Daniel J. Lewis. Shot with a Canon EOS Rebel T4i and Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens.

© 2013 Daniel J. Lewis. Shot with a Canon EOS Rebel T4i and Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens.

Podcasts are watched or listened to in a variety of ways and places that you may not expect. Forgetting these things could make you podcast difficult to consume and thus annoy your audience.

It's not about the device or app

This isn't a look at whether your audience gets your podcast on an Android phone or iOS device. It also doesn't depend on what app they use. These ideas transcend the ever-changing scenario of the latest tools.

8 consumption methods you need to consider

1. In noisy environments

Because a podcast can be consumed everywhere, this often means somewhere with a lot of noise.

  • While driving or riding in a vehicle
  • While working out at the gym
  • While working in the office
  • While mowing the yard
  • Or anywhere else in public with a lot of people around

Because of the amount of noise, you need to ensure that your podcast is loud enough that the listener can hear you. Evening out your volume levels (with compression) helps a lot with this.

You should also watch for tone and dictation so your voice isn't drowned out by other noise.

Especially consider how you sound when you have to be turned louder. Such as in a car with an FM-transmitter. This can make your sibilances (S's) piercing and introduce unnecessary noise if you're too quiet.

2. Through noise-suppressing headphones

Watch out for over-processing your audio. You may think you sound great with the bass-boosting radio voice when you listen through speakers, but that processing can literally cause headaches for listeners with certain kinds of headphones or earbuds.

3. With one earbud

For many reasons, people will watch or listen to podcasts with only one earbud. It could be for safety, comfort, availability, or even a physical handicap.

Your voice should always be balanced in the center. The only exception for this is sometimes dramas, but even then, the voice is best usually in the center.

So if your voice is always centered, and you're not releasing dramas or music reviews, then you should consider publishing your podcast in mono instead of stereo.

4. At faster speeds

Many podcast apps will allow consumption at 1.5× or 2× speeds. I personally listen to almost everything at 2× because I can consume more content in the same amount of time.

Listen to your own audio at faster speeds and you may quickly notice annoying patterns or things that make your audible unbearable.

  • Excessive laughing
  • Talking over each other
  • Bad audio quality
  • Poor mic technique
  • Verbal crutches (“um,” “uh,” “you know,” etc.)
  • Heavy accents (those this may be unchangeable and you shouldn't stress over this)

Try to find these distracting patterns and eliminate them with better technique.

5. On your website

More than 50% of my podcast downloads come through my website—desktop and mobile devices. Make sure that your podcast can be listened to, downloaded, and easily found on your website.

You may not be able to afford a web designer (like me) to custom-design a mobile-friendly website for you. But you can still make a mobile-friendly site with a great WordPress theme like many from StudioPress, and use PowerPress for your podcast player (falls back to HTML5 on devices without Flash—in English, that means it'll play on almost anything).

6. With interruptions

Podcasts are on-demand media and may be consumed throughout the day with many interruptions. An employee may listen on their commute to work, do their job, and then resume listening on their commute back home.

Keep this in mind as you present your content. You don't have to remind listeners what or who they're listening to, but you should frequently reset the context. For example, instead of saying, “the movie,” use the title of the movie again.

In the movie, the main character is angry about not being allowed to date his girlfriend, so the movie shows us his path to darkness.

Can you tell what movie I'm talking about if I didn't include a headline? How about in the following example?

In The Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker is angry about not being allowed to date Padme. So The Revenge of the Sith shows us Anakin's path to darkness.

Now you know exactly what movie and what characters I was talking about.

This doesn't mean you always have to be so specific. But also remember that the context can fade after a couple minutes and you may have to say the title again.

This also applies to web addresses, apps, characters, and more.

7. Over mobile data networks

Smartphones and Internet-connected devices are taking over and these often come with mobile bandwidth limits. Either release your podcasts in a simpler format that takes less space (like 64 kbps mono MP3 instead of 128 kbps stereo), or offer a lower-quality edition (like standard-definition 640 × 360 video in addition to 1080p video).

8. While falling asleep

This is the odd one that surprised me in my research. A lot of people listen to podcasts in bed to help them fall asleep. This is a good reason to avoid sudden loud noises in your podcast. So watch out for loud intros, outros, or sound effects and make sure your volume is more consistent.

Where and how do you listen to podcasts?

I'm very grateful for all the feedback I received from different podcasting communities. Check out what they said and add your own opinion there or here in the comments!

Add your votes to Richard Farrar's two-question poll about how you listen to podcasts.

Save on StudioPress themes

I think the best “podcaster's theme” for WordPress is a mobile-friendly theme from StudioPress. With WordPress 3.6 coming out soon, StudioPress themes are being updated to their Genesis 2.0 framework and receiving huge upgrades.

Through this Friday, July 26, 5:00 p.m. PDT, you can get access to all current and future StudioPress themes for $299.95 (saving $912.75 if you were to buy every theme individually).

After this sale expires, the price will go back to $349.95, followed by an increase to $399.95 later this year.

Buy a beautiful StudioPress theme for your website today!

Coming next: Pinterest for podcasters

If you're heard of Pinterest, then I hope you've heard from Oh So Pinteresting, hosted by Cynthia Sanchez. Cynthia is the go-to person for all things Pinterest, and I'll be honored to have her as a guest for The Audacity to Podcast episode 136.

  • How podcasters can use Pinterest to promote their podcast
  • How Pinterest can be a resource and inspiration for podcasters
  • Ideas for how podcasters can contribute quality content and build a following on Pinterest (not necessarily just to promote their podcast)

Send your questions for Cynthia by Wednesday July 24, 2013.

Need personalized podcasting help?

I no longer offer one-on-one consulting outside of Podcasters' Society, but request a consultant here and I'll connect you with someone I trust to help you launch or improve your podcast.

Ask your questions or share your feedback

  • Comment on the shownotes
  • Leave a voicemail at (903) 231-2221
  • Email feedback@TheAudacitytoPodcast.com (audio files welcome)

Connect with me


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.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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Mark - The New Puritan Podcast
Mark - The New Puritan Podcast
10 years ago

When I do listen to podcasts, which is not often, I do it on the web–from a web site. For example I listened to TAP 135 from your web site. : )

Joshua Liston
Joshua Liston
10 years ago

Daniel: For some reason in the last few months I’ve been siffering from more Silibant s sounds – than I have in the past 🙁 I have the PR40 & it’s never really been a problem up until now.

I have tried to reposition my tounge etc (following speach coach tips for reducing Silibant s’s) but I’ve found that I’m too conscious of preparing for the S’s that it changes my confidence and my vocal delivery on non-S words and phrases…

Would it be worth maybe knocking my Eq down a touch around 8khz? Any other advice mate?

Cheers DJL?

Joshua Liston


[…] sleeps, and breathes podcasting. He runs an entire network of podcasts called Noodle.MX and hosts The Audacity To Podcast, an award winning show that teaches people how to […]

Richard Farrar
Richard Farrar
10 years ago

Hi Daniel, Thanks ever so much for the link back to the 2 podcast
listening polls on my website, much appreciated. Keep up the excellent work. Richard

Richard Farrar
Richard Farrar
10 years ago

Yeah, should prove interesting.

Ben Krueger
10 years ago

Finding this really helpful for mapping out how listeners consume podcasts and the best methods for CTAs that make sense because of this. Great insights as always, thanks Daniel!

Ben Krueger
10 years ago

Absolutely, thanks Daniel!

Gary Fawcett
Gary Fawcett
10 years ago

Love the part about making your podcast more friendly to people that are trying to fall asleep and not have any loud endings :). There goes my Death Metal ending idea :).

So what is the ethics of adding “subliminal messages” to last ten minutes to our podcast. Something like “Bees are good, Buy More Bee Hives, Bees are Good”, do you think that would be ok Daniel. Would love to see a show about the technique in increasing our shop sales :D.

Thanks for the show another great one…Gary

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

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