Podcast Etiquette: Dos And Don’ts Of A Great Podcast

Podcasting has become one of the biggest forms of media in the world. But in this battle to become a number one podcast. Has podcast etiquette been forgotten? Or, are people just unaware how much it matters?

From businesses, influencers, musicians, doctors and comedians. Nearly all sectors and industries have started using podcasts to promote themselves or their business. 

In fact, for people who are 18-34 years old, podcasts are now as big as TV, says Pierre Bouvard of Cumulus Media and Westwood One, analysers for Edison Research’s Infinite Dial data. 

etiquette podcasts

 

48% of 18-34 years listen to podcasts each week – nearly as large as TV at 50%

In this blog we are going to discuss ‘good podcast etiquette’ including the ever familiar dos and don’ts when dealing with podcast guests, advertising, swearing and more!

Podcast Etiquette DOs and DON’Ts

podcast etiquette rules

PODCAST DOs

> PLAN AHEAD: As a host you need to plan your questions and discuss them with your guests in advance. This is not just good podcast etiquette, but a chance to provide a list of questions prior to the interview, then tell the guest the rough topic to be discussed. If you find that you go off topic a little during the interview. Make the guest aware that you can edit out any questions they don’t want including in the final podcast. This keeps the guest onside and stops them from worrying about saying something they will later regret.

> MANAGE YOUR TIME: Podcasts can be as short as 15 minutes and as long as 2 hours. Either way, make sure you keep track of time and try to stay on-topic as much as you can. Also, respect the agreed time. If you and the guest have agreed 30 minutes or an hour, stick to it. Even if the guest is really enjoying the discussion. Don’t run over, as you may want to ask the guest on again in the near future. If the interview ran over, your guest maybe reluctant to reappear or even promote it on their social media. 

> PLAN BREAKS: Before the podcast starts, agree break times with your guest, especially on podcasts that will be longer than 30 minutes. Some guests might require more frequent toilet breaks or more refreshments. Don’t just assume that because you’re enjoying it, then they are as well. They may have been holding in a wee or might wish to walk around a little and stretch their legs. Even if you break for 5 minutes, it’s an opportunity to check that your guest is happy with everything.

> RESEARCH YOUR GUESTS: Podcasts have a more friendly and organic feel when the guest or host already know each other. Of course, not everyone does. But a little research can go a long way in making a conversation feel natural and comfortable. If you research well, you will avoid the awkwardness of quoting wrong statistics or information to your guest.  

PODCAST DON’Ts

> AVOID TELLING INSIDE JOKES: However funny you find it, try to keep in-jokes OUT of your podcast interview. Avoid jokes that have a ‘had to be their ‘ vibe about them. If you just can’t help yourself, make it a VERY short snippet. And never repeat jokes each week. No matter how funny they were the first week, they won’t be the second week.

> DON’T IGNORE YOUR GUESTS: When you run your own podcast, you can assume that you need to be heard as much as the guest. You don’t, in fact when you have a guest on, the podcast is about the guest, not the host. As a host it’s your job to keep the tone and pace going and make the guest feel comfortable. Avoid talking over the guest, constantly interrupting them. And, giving your opinion on every question you ask your guest. In some respects the host should be somewhat impartial to the guest’s viewpoint.

> AVOID RAMBLING AND BABBLING: This can be especially tricky to combat on solo podcasts, because there is no one to interrupt or stop you when you’re talking to a guest. But, trust your intuition and keep your comments, questions and answers concise. If you are shocked or surprised by what your guest is telling you, avoid giving big replies with your own opinion. For the best podcast etiquette, make your response quick and succinct.

> AVOID TECHNICAL JARGON: Even if you can speak authoritatively about your work, you still need to communicate with listeners who may know very little about what you’re talking about. So, use technical jargon sparingly and explain what you or the guest mean if jargon needs to be included in the discussion. 

Should I Advertise In My Podcast?

podcast advertising made easy

If you want to place adverts in your podcast, there’s something you need to know.

Listeners are not going to like it.

Obviously when you start a podcast you want to recoup your costs as quickly as possible. But putting adverts in your podcast maybe the quickest way to switch people off.

Picture the scene. The host suddenly stops the podcast and starts promoting a product they love using, but for whatever reason they don’t sound that enthusiastic and now they’re talking about yet another product. You start feeling unconvinced that they genuinely love these products. But worse, you start to question how genuine they really are and consider un-subscribing from their podcast. 

Now, we appreciate that advertising helps to support your podcast. But let’s think a little smarter about this opportunity. Listed below is some podcast etiquette pointers to consider.

Podcast Advertising Etiquette

> DON’T USE ADS AT FIRST: If you include ads when you first launch your podcast, you will not give listeners a chance to enjoy your podcast. If listeners already enjoy your podcast, it’s less likely they’ll stop listening when you start including advertising. Hopefully they’ll even engage with the ads if they’ve been listeners for a while and trust you.

> AVOID PERSONAL ADVERTS: Yes, personal adverts have their advantages, but only when you genuinely love the products. Don’t use your podcast as trade for gaining free products and taking advantage of your listeners. If you’re going to put adverts on your podcast, then wait until you have a good monthly download of around 3,000 listeners

> BUILDING YOUR BRAND TAKES TIME: It’s an old dutch saying but it’s true. “Trust arrives on foot, but leaves on horseback”. Your listeners are not gullible idiots. If you talk about too many different brands every week, you will sound desperate and come across like you will say anything for money. A listener is like a good friend, they will keep trusting you, but not if you keep taking them for granted. 

> JOIN AN ADVERTISING PLATFORM: Once your podcast has become established and has a good few thousand listeners a month. You may wish to join an advertising platform. Most podcast hosting sites like Acast provide their own in-house advertising channels. Once you sign up, you get the option to play adverts within your podcast. These adverts are usually national radio adverts that have been sourced for podcasts. So, the quality of the adverts is usually very high. Just make sure you’re not advertising anything your brand disagrees with.

Can You Eat and Drink During A Podcast?

drinking during a podcast

Foodstudio food to avoid

We would strongly advise against eating during a podcast recording. The last thing listeners want to hear when they put on their headphones is someone working their way through a packet of crisps. It is distracting and results in bad audio quality. Obviously, there are exceptions, like a food tasting podcast, but for the majority, eat before recording your podcast.

Drinkstudio drink to avoid

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a glass of water to hand during a podcast recording. In fact, we always provide a glass of water or some herbal tea to anyone recording at our studio. However, avoid drinks with high caffeine or sugary energy drinks. As people will need more toilet breaks and probably get indigestion through swigging drinks between questions. Alcohol is also a big no, no. Just keep it simple… Only drink for the sake of hydration. 

Should I Swear On A Podcast? 

podcast swearing

Although everybody has a right to express their feelings with expletives. There are some important things to consider before you decide to use the f-bomb in your podcast.

85% of podcasts do not contain any explicit content at all. This means that if you want your podcast to reach the Top 100, you may want to take a look at what other successful podcasts are doing. 

Be aware that, as of 2023, 8 countries worldwide have a ban, and in 35 countries you have to ‘opt in‘, on Apple podcasts containing any explicit content. This means that you would be closing your podcast off to thousands of potential listeners. I’m sure you’ll agree, not great podcast etiquette.

Every podcaster is different. And every listener is comfortable with different topics of conversation. Here are some steps you can put in place to make sure that your listeners and guests are comfortable and happy with your content.

Step 1: Know Your Audience

This is extremely important. If you are dealing with sensitive information and your podcast is aimed at mums with children in the room, you may get some very unwelcome feedback if they hear swearing, especially if their child repeats it. Adapt to the needs of your audience. Speak to your audience. Ask them what they would like to hear and what they wouldn’t be happy with hearing.

Step 2: Know Your Guests

If your podcast often deals with sensitive topics or adult themes you need to communicate this to your guests. Don’t just assume that they will be comfortable answering questions that you have asked other guests before or that your swearing won’t offend them. This will hopefully be included in your original pitch to your potential guest. 

Step 3: Add Content Warnings When Necessary

If you include any swearing at all, even if it’s one word, you need to include a disclaimer at the start of your podcast. This makes the listeners aware straight away, so that they know what to expect.
Content warnings are usually a quick comment in the introduction of the podcast to let listeners know that they’re maybe adult themes. It’s also an option to switch on explicit language on the podcast setting for the said podcast.

Takeaways!

Be humble, listen well and stick to the vision of your podcast.

Remember that you are sharing your conversations and stories with real people. Engage with them as you engage with anyone you respect. Your aim is to make people feel comfortable and also be professional at the same time.

Communication and planning are key in achieving this. Take responsibility for your podcast and don’t use your brand like it’s a place to hang out all advertising on. 

If you have any further questions or wish to get in touch, please feel free to comment below. Or, contact us from our online form. We’d love to talk to you. 

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