Many podcasts today are simply recorded conversations. A host sits down with a guest, and they banter back and forth for anywhere between 30 minutes to a few hours. It’s a pretty straightforward way to make a podcast, which is probably why it’s so popular.
It can also get pretty dull.
If you’re looking to launch a podcast or spice up one that already exists, check out how the three podcasts below have elevated their conversations to be more engaging for their listeners.
Red Hat, an open-source solutions provider, hosts the Command Line Heroes podcast, which focuses on the “developers, programmers, hackers, geeks and open source software rebels revolutionizing the technology landscape.” Red Hat could have made Command Line Heroes a typical sit-down interview-style podcast, but considering how many of these already exist, they decided to go for the dramatic. Host Saron Yitbarek tells stories and creates scenarios over lots of sound effects and well-placed music. Guests aren’t peppered with questions. Instead, their voices are woven into the podcast as part of the larger audio story. The result? A riveting 30-minute podcast that was nominated for a Shorty award for “Best Branded Podcast” in 2019.
Lean into the dramatic. Perhaps you’ve been hard pressed to tell your business’s story because you’re familiar with it and it feels dulll. Determine what makes your company unique and dig into it. Tease out the unconventional, and don’t be afraid to get creative in production.
Jay Acunzo has been working in content marketing and digital strategy for over a decade, and with companies like Google and HubSpot on his resumé, it’s easy to see how he knows his audience. On Unthinkable, Acunzo searches for “people who break from conventional thinking to create something more memorable.” Acunzo interviews guests on his podcast, but he uses music, sound effects and even on-the-street interviews to draw out each episode’s narrative and elevate the listening experience. Guests are given ample time to delve into niche topics, but things never get dull.
Get personal. Humans are natural storytellers, and each person in your company has a unique story to tell. Maybe it’s how they ended up finding a role in the organization, or maybe it’s a particular challenge they had to overcome.
I’m a die-hard fan of Phil Collins, so when it was announced he’d be doing a podcast based on his life, I was all in. Collins is interviewed by the host in each episode, but they use the alphabet as a fun prompt for each episode. For example, the first episode begins with “A,” which stands for the band The Action, an early influence on Collins. The next episode is all about Band-Aid, a group that Collins was in that released the 1984 Christmas song, “Do They Know it’s Christmastime.” The alphabet format means the host and Phil always have a new, interesting segment to discuss, and because it’s only 26 stories, the series has a definitive ending.
Shorter is often better. Don’t feel pressured to create a long show. If this is your first podcast, consider making it a miniseries of quick-hitting episodes. Keeping it economical can create a more engaging listening experience — and provide you with a clear finish line.
If you’re looking for inspiration to help your own interview podcast stand out, give the above podcasts a listen. You can note the tricks that could work for your podcast and take a flyer on those that won’t. At the very least, you can learn more about the life and musical genius of Phil Collins.