Five irritating mistakes podcasters make.

Assuming the content is fresh and engaging, the reason why people don’t subscribe to podcasts is simple. The show is irritating. I’ve been podcasting since 2017, I did live radio for three years, and I’ve had some great success at it, but I see five mistakes hurt even podcasters with great show ideas.

1. Problems From Plosives

Plosives happen when the air from your mouth hits the diaphragm inside your microphone, often from words with P,T, or C consonants. The resulting sound is a startling “pop” and a low-end “thud” at the same time.

Listeners will avoid listening to your podcast for this reason alone. Over time listeners will fixate on this sound, and the great content you worked hard on, is lost.

What to do about plosives

  • Buy a pop filter for your microphone
  • Buy a microphone with an integrated pop filter like the Electrovoice RE320.
  • Speak “across” your mic and avoid puffing directly into the microphone.
  • Train yourself to “pull-in” your plosives.
  • If your environment is quiet enough, pull away from your mic and turn up the gain/volume.

2. Mic Shock To The Ears

Any odd unexplained sounds in your podcast are a no-no and one thing that can irritate your listeners is when vibrations get into your microphone. Your listeners will hear a constant low-end rumble at best, and a rattling noise at times.

Just like plosives, any unexplained sounds can be extremely irritating, and eventually, listeners will just give up on your show even if you have amazing content. (There are a few podcasts I absolutely LOVE but can’t listen to because they bother my ears.)

What to do about mic shock

  • Buy a shock mount for your microphone and boom arm.
  • Place your microphone on a piece of foam that won’t transfer vibrations.
  • Don’t touch the table your microphone is stabilized on.

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3. Using Filler Words

So… ummmmmm, this is a… uhhhhhh, a challenging one, but minding your “ummms” and “uuuh” words is a BIG reason why people don’t subscribe to podcasts, even ones they like. When the recording light is on we all have a tendency to use filler words. These words come in many forms.

Beyond the obvious “um” and “uh” some people have a tendency to repeat certain phrases often. Like “that’s interesting” or early in my live radio stint, I said “what on earth” a lot. For some reason, when the recording light turns on, many of us turn into complete idiots — I still make these mistakes!

What to do about filler words

  • Listen to your own shows and take notes. Taking notes is non-negotiable. It will burn those words into your consciousness, so when you use them later you will instantly kick yourself, and eventually stop yourself entirely.
  • Have a friend listen and tell them to be harsh.
  • Say “pause” in your head. I know it sounds weird, but this worked wonders for me.
  • Enjoy the silence and understand silence in a podcast is ok. In fact, the pros use silence as a creative advantage, it can drive home a point, or make your audience think.

4. Failure To Entertain

If content is king, don’t forget the role of the court jester. You can spend tons of time in research, making an educational podcast but if you don’t make the show entertaining, no one will listen.

There are dozens of ways people can learn today, and they are likely to find the route that is most enjoyable. I didn’t truly learn this lesson until my professional radio career, but sounds, clips, inflection, etc make a show more fun.

How to make a podcast more entertaining

  • Use popular music for segments. (Buy an ASCAP license to do this legally)
  • Use royalty-free or public domain music if you don’t have a budget
  • Use sound effects
  • Have fun on your own show, laugh, slap the table, yell away from the mic, whisper into the mic.
  • Do live recordings “in the field”
  • Play clips that are fair use.

5. Low Energy Recordings

Another reason why people don’t subscribe to podcasts is energy. Energy can kill a show. I know this sounds ticky-tack, but it’s not.

I went back and listened to my first live show and wow, I sounded asleep despite how excited I was during the show. So, next time I upped the energy and I still sounded asleep. So next time, I went for it! My co-host thought I was loony, but listening later it sounded great!

  • The energy behind your microphone shouldn’t feel natural. If you’re comfortable you’re doing it wrong.
  • Listen to all your shows. If it sounds boring, it might be because of your energy.
  • Move your arms, use inflection, and picture yourself on stage engaging with an audience.
  • Remember, you can erase the show if you sound like a lunatic.

Why people don’t subscribe to podcasts.

There are dozens of reasons folks may not be listening to your podcast. The content might not be fresh, or there may be too much competition. But correcting these five podcasting mistakes gives you the best chance.


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