If you want to engage your podcast audience then there are several elements that you need to get right. One of these is the length of the episodes. This is a tricky subject when it comes to designing your podcast with numerous theories, opinions and evidence on what works best for each business.
For instance, podcasts that are on the same subject can vary considerably in their length. Free Marketing Anarchy is at most 15 minutes long, but Internet Marketing For Smart People, which targets the same audience with similarly themed content, is three to four times longer at 45-60 minutes.
So how do you determine how long your podcast should be?
How Frequently Do You Release Content?
One of the first elements that you should look at is how often you are going to publish a podcast. If you are looking at recording and releasing multiple podcasts a day, they are going to be shorter than a monthly recorded podcast. This is for two main reasons:
- Your Time – recording, editing and publishing takes time. The longer you are recording the more time it takes and this becomes impractical when you have other tasks to complete.
- Your Audience’s Time – if your podcasts are too long, audiences will struggle to listen to all your content in one day. Therefore, you will lose their interest and they will not return to further engage with you.
Therefore, if you want to produce daily content, keep your podcasts short. Perhaps the maximum length should be between 10 and 15 minutes. If you are looking at a weekly schedule aim for a maximum of 60 minutes and monthly podcasts can be up to 90 minutes. These are just rough figures, but if you stick closely to them, then you won’t lose audiences unnecessarily.
The attention span of audiences is very short and has started to decrease. It has been recently widely reported that our attention span has decreased so that it is shorter than a goldfish’s.
Getting your audience to listen to your podcast for 10-15 minutes might be a good achievement in itself. Increasing that time to 60 minutes might be pushing your audience too much and by the end of the episode they might not be listening anymore or have turned off your podcast.
If either of these happen, it is unlikely they will return.
The topic of the podcast should also be the deciding factor in the length of your podcast. For instance, talking about a recent news event might only require five to ten minutes but ‘how to create a podcast’ might need thirty minutes or more. It all depends on what can be said on the topic without boring the audience.
To help improve the concentration of your audience and to retain their attention, it is important to use a format that is entertaining. The better the format, the longer the podcast can be. There are certain tactics that successful podcasters use to shake up their podcasts to keep their audience’s attention. For example:
- Adding musical interludes.
- Interviewing guests (the different voices refresh the audience’s mind).
- Advertisements in the podcast.
- Different tempo of a podcast.
By adding variety to your format you can increase the length of your podcasts but they will need to make sense. There is no point in interviewing someone when they have nothing to do with the topic.
The length of your podcast is an important factor in its success. Determining the length is a complex equation of different factors that combine to give an indication of what your audience wants. Consider these elements when recording your podcast to ensure that it is one of the best on the market.
How long are your podcasts? Have you experimented with your podcast’s length?
Let us know in the comments.
- Alter the length of your podcast; is there a noticeable change in returning listeners?