There are dozens of Christian podcasts – and I would love to love one of them.
Unfortunately, almost every Christian podcast I’ve ever listened to fails to interest me.
The problem isn’t the content – it’s the way Christian podcasts present the material that makes them, well…boring.
So let me be helpful. Here are three reasons I don’t listen to your podcast:
- You take forever to get to the point.Your podcast starts with a canned intro. Then you spend the next five minutes chatting with your co-host about the kids, or where you went to dinner, or a past podcast, or some other topic I care nothing about.
Here’s how a typical Christian podcast begins:
Hello and welcome to the Mission Focus Podcast, where we talk about missions work around the world. I’m your host Joe Jameson, and with me is my friend and partner in crime, Tim Sanders. Tim, how are you doing?
Tim: Good Joe, doin’ awesome. Kids are keeping me busy.
Joe: Me too, dude. We went out to Red Lobster last night; it’s one of our favorite places to go out for a family dinner. And as we’re eating this guy in the booth next to us has a heart attack, and they have to call the ambulance. So the paramedics arrive and start working on him. It was surreal watching this guy cling to his life while we’re cracking our crab legs…
Tim: Teachable moment, dude.
Joe: I know, I should have taken the opportunity to talk to my kids about the impermanence of life…
Tim: We’re like a vapor…
Joe: That kinda reminds me of something our guest last week said…you remember she was talking about the time she survived a car accident?
Let me be blunt: when I tune into a Christian podcast, I’m not looking to make a friend. I’m not interested in past podcasts. I chose to listen to this podcast because I looked at the title. And the title promised me something to improve my life or inspire me in my faith.
So deliver what you promised. And start delivering in the first minute of the podcast.
- You talk as much as your guest (or more than your guest). Some podcasters love the sound of their own voices. They do lengthy welcome monologues of their guests, sometimes talking for five minutes or more before their guest even says a word. They regularly interrupt their guests to insert witty banter. In the end they do as much talking (or more) as their guests do.
If that describes you, then ditch the guests altogether and do a monologue. Your podcast is either guest-driven or host-driven. Decide.
- You gush over your guest. Many Christian podcasters go fanboy over their guests. They gush, “Wow, that’s awesome!” after everything their guests say.
It’s OK to be kind to your guests and be generally supportive of his/her message, but don’t overdo it. And don’t be afraid to push back if your guest says something controversial or obtuse. You’re a reporter, not a cheerleader.
So, what to do? Here are a few suggestions:
- Always start with a teaser. A good podcast starts with a teaser, a small foretaste designed to intrigue the listener and keep him/her listening.
Let’s go back to our earlier example. Here’s a better way to start that podcast:
When we think of Iran, we picture a nation closed to the Gospel. But in reality, thousands of Muslims are coming to Christ in Iran every month. On this episode of MISSION FOCUS PODCAST we’ll speak to a man who operates a network of underground churches in the Middle East. We’ve changed his name and altered his voice, and he’ll be sharing some incredible stories of God’s work in a land that’s hostile to the Gospel.
You’re listening to MISSION FOCUS PODCAST. I’m your host Joe Jameson, and with me is Tim Sanders. Tim, tell me a little more about this week’s guest – how were you able to get an interview with a man who is in such constant danger?
Tim: Sorry Joe, that’s classified…
You don’t have to strip your podcast of every bit of whimsy. You can still have fun and insert your personality into the show. But get to the point early – and tease your topic right off the top.
- Let your guest speak. Interject as little as possible, particularly early in the interview. You want your listener to become familiar with your guest’s voice.
Ask a question, and then shut up. Give the guest latitude, unless he/she veers off topic.
- Tips for monologue podcasters
- Tease before you do a canned intro, or ditch the intro altogether.
- Get a good microphone
- Add sound effects where appropriate, to help immerse your listeners in the story
- Listen to great secular podcasters. Public radio podcasts such as This American Life and The Hidden Brain are masterfully produced. They’re carefully woven from music, sounds and interview clips. Listen and learn from the pros.
- Keep this in mind. The most important person on your podcast is not you. Nor is it your guest. The most important person on your podcast is the listener. Make sure everything you do will educate and edify your listener.