Podcasts helped me get through 2018. I learned a lot about mental health, race and culture, human behavior, intuitive eating, startups, venture capital, and good old pop culture. There were times however when I had to force myself to listen. Not because the content wasn’t good, but because the voice of the podcast host or interviewer annoyed the hell out of me.
With Spotify vowing to spend $400–500 million in the podcast space in 2019 alone and having recently acquired podcast networks Gimlet and Anchor, podcasting is a growing industry. As it shows no signs of slowing down, I’m listing my top five podcast peccadillos in hopes that it will help aspiring podcasters.
The most grating behaviors for me are podcasters who speak in a monotone voice, sound bored or insincere, don’t articulate, have vocal fry, chew up their words, talk over their guests, stumble over or use the wrong words and don’t correct themselves as if listeners won’t notice, or alternatively spend too much time focusing on the mistake. Having gotten that off of my chest, here are my top five tips as an avid listener and potential podcaster.
1. Speak clearly. Enunciate. I recently listened to an interviewer speaking to a guest and each time she said the name of the guest’s company, I could not make out the company name. A completely bungled branding opportunity if the host is unable to correctly pronounce the interviewee’s brand.
2. Speak with authentic enthusiasm. Don’t speak lazily. If the podcaster sounds disinterested or disengaged, most likely the listener will too.
3. Avoid speaking in a monotone voice. Work on inflection to help guide the story and keep the episode from falling flat. There is a podcast that I listen to, which provides great information, but I swear the interviewer sounds like she’s just woken up from a nap each time the interviewee finishes answering a question. Wake up your voice!
4. Avoid speaking over guests or co-hosts. Although it happens in normal conversation, for a podcast it’s important to not step on each other’s words. Learn to be a good conversationalist who anticipates lulls and the places to jump into the conversation. Everyone talking at once muddles the conversation and the sound.
5. As the saying goes, some people have a “face for radio,” but not everyone has a voice for broadcast. And while I appreciate venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton’s advice on her The Bootstrapped VC podcast, to not wait to be perfect to start a thing, if you’re serious about podcasting, which is 100% communicating by voice, it’s worth it to at least listen to how you sound, and work on improving. This might include public speaking or improv classes, improving interviewing skills, or voice training. At the very least, listen to your favorite interviewer or podcaster for tips and tricks. Now, do the damn thing and keep working on your craft!