Smarter Podcasting: 5 Simple Ideas to Improve Your Solo Podcasting

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Welcome to another episode of Smarter Podcasting! 

I’m Niall Mackay, the Podcast Guy. I’m an experienced podcaster, teacher, and stand-up comedian. I’m passionate about helping others improve their podcasting skills and sharing my expertise through my show, Smarter Podcasting.

While interviewing guests and hosting panel discussions can be exciting, there’s something uniquely challenging and rewarding about solo podcasting. In this unique podcast format, the host takes center stage, weaving narratives, sharing insights, and engaging listeners in a one-on-one conversation.

Solo podcasting offers complete creative control, allowing the individual to dictate the pace, format, and content without the need for constant coordination. 

In this episode, I shared with my audience the top 5 tips for solo podcasting that I’ve tried for years throughout my podcasting journey. 

  1. Research Your Topic

“Number one, spend time to research your topic. Make sure you do your homework and you’ve prepared your content for your solo episode.”

Research is the foundation of any successful podcast episode, especially when you’re flying solo. 

Whether you’re an expert or a beginner in your chosen niche, taking the time to research your topic will boost your confidence and ensure that you deliver valuable content to your listeners.

Scripted vs. Unscripted

The decision is a deeply personal one. Advocating flexibility, I  acknowledge the benefits of a full script while leaving room for off-the-cuff brilliance. My personal approach involves navigating both realms, seamlessly switching between meticulously scripted episodes and the liberating spontaneity of unscripted moments.

While some podcasters prefer a full script, others find it more natural to have an outline. Regardless of your approach, preparation is key to avoiding filler words and creating a smooth-flowing episode.

Pausing and Filler words

If you don’t do your homework on the topic, you might find yourself pausing a lot, saying “um” and “ah” as you think about what to say next. It’s like having little interruptions in your podcast because you’re not well-prepared. Researching beforehand helps smooth out these pauses and keeps your podcast flowing without those awkward filler words.

Doing your research before a recording can make a big difference in how confident you feel. It’s like having a solid foundation beneath you. When you know your stuff, you speak with authority and assurance. It’s that boost of confidence that comes from being well-prepared. Research isn’t just about gathering information; it’s about arming yourself with knowledge, and that knowledge becomes your confidence fuel. 

  1. Embrace Your Voice

In solo podcasting, where there’s no co-host or guest to share the stage, your voice takes center stage as the soloist in a symphony of sound. Every nuance, every inflection, and every pause becomes a note in this audio composition. Your voice isn’t merely conveying information; it’s crafting an immersive experience that your audience will remember.

Vocal Identity

Your voice isn’t just a tool; it’s your vocal identity. It’s the unique signature that distinguishes your podcast in the crowded auditory landscape. Every rise and fall, every modulation, contributes to the personality of your podcast. It’s not just about what you say but how you say it—the tone, the rhythm, the energy.

Embrace your authenticity; don’t try to mimic someone else’s style. Your genuine self is what sets you apart. As Bill Hicks advised —be yourself because nobody else can be you.

Tone of Voice

Your tone is the bridge that connects you with your audience. It’s not just about what you say but how you say it. A warm and inviting tone fosters a sense of familiarity, making your listeners feel like they’re part of a conversation rather than passive spectators. This connection is vital for building a loyal and engaged audience.

“Nobody wants to listen to a podcast in a monotone voice just describing exactly the information just like this.”

Authenticity resonates through tone. A genuine tone of voice reflects your sincerity and realness. Listeners can discern when a tone is forced or contrived, so maintaining authenticity in your tone is key to building trust with your audience. It’s the sincerity that keeps them coming back for more.

  1. Create a story

Everybody loves a story—be it in movies, books, TV shows, or even the binge-worthy documentaries on Netflix. Your listeners aren’t just consuming content; they’re part of a story—one that lingers in their minds long after the episode concludes.

At its core, storytelling is about forging connections. It’s about sharing experiences, creating relatable moments, and building bridges between storyteller and audience. Whether you’re conveying a complex idea or sharing a personal anecdote, the connection formed through storytelling is authentic and lasting.

Why Stories Matter

Stories are like magnets for attention. They captivate, engage, and linger in the minds of your listeners. In podcasting, where the competition for ears is fierce, a well-told story is your secret weapon. It transforms your content from a list of facts into an immersive experience that your audience will remember.

“People remember and connect with stories, not just bland, boring information”

Story-telling Skill

There’re many storytelling elements that you should consider when crafting a story. Here are some tips:

  • Know Your Message

Every story has a message, a core idea. Identify what you want your audience to take away from your podcast. Whether it’s inspiration, information, or entertainment, clarity on your message is the first step.

  • Introduce with Impact

Start strong. Your introduction sets the tone. Grab attention with a hook—something intriguing, funny, or thought-provoking. Make your listeners curious, and eager to embark on the journey you’re about to unfold.

  • Create a Journey (Story Arc) 

Like any good story, your podcast needs structure. Introduce your topic, build anticipation, reach a climax, and ease into a resolution. It doesn’t have to be complex; a simple arc keeps your podcast organized and engaging.

  • End with Impact

Just like a good book or movie, your podcast needs a memorable ending. Summarize your message, leave a lasting thought, or encourage your audience to take action. A strong conclusion ensures your story resonates beyond the podcast.

Storytelling in podcasting doesn’t require a literary masterpiece. It’s about connecting with your audience on a human level. So, know your message, structure your content, infuse it with your unique voice, and watch as your podcast transforms into a narrative adventure that keeps your audience coming back for more.

  1. Be Authentic and Vulnerable

Podcasting isn’t just about transmitting information; it’s about forging genuine connections. Vulnerability injects the human touch into your content, reminding listeners that behind the microphone is a real person with experiences, flaws, and triumphs. It’s the bridge that spans the gap between the speaker and the audience.

True Stories, True People

Sharing personal stories, even the embarrassing ones, invites listeners into your world. It fosters a sense of relatability and empathy. Listeners appreciate the authenticity—the acknowledgment that everyone, even the seasoned podcaster, makes mistakes. It’s a shared human experience that transcends the digital divide.

True stories carry the power of empathy. As podcasters share their experiences, listeners are not just passive consumers of information; they become active participants in a shared human experience. This empathy is a two-way street, binding creators and audiences in a moment of connection that transcends the digital divide.

Stay true to the message and value

When your podcast aligns with your core message and values, listeners sense sincerity. This trust is not just about the content you present; it’s about the implicit promise that each episode will be a genuine expression of your beliefs. Trust becomes the foundation of a lasting connection with your audience.

Staying true to your message serves as a guiding light in content decisions. Whether faced with trending topics or emerging formats, your values act as a compass, helping you navigate the choices that align with the essence of your podcast. This alignment ensures that your content remains a genuine reflection of who you are.

Trends may come and go, but the core values embedded in your podcast give it a timeless quality. Longevity in impact is a testament to the enduring power of a message that remains steadfast amidst the evolving podcasting landscape.

  1. Incorporate listener feedback

Solo podcasters have the unique opportunity to foster a sense of loyalty by acknowledging and featuring listener messages. This engagement transforms passive listeners into active contributors, creating a dynamic relationship that goes beyond the one-way communication of traditional broadcasts.

“ If you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know every episode I ask, go to the notes, there’s a link there and you can leave me a message, and when you [00:08:00] do, I will feature it in the future”

Fostering Community Connection

One of the benefits of incorporating listener feedback is the creation of a vibrant and connected community. By actively engaging with your audience’s thoughts, questions, and suggestions, you forge a sense of unity. Your podcast becomes a shared space where listeners feel valued, fostering a community that extends beyond the podcast itself.

Your audience evolves from passive listeners to active participants in the podcasting journey. This transformation deepens their connection with the content, as they realize their voices contribute to the ongoing narrative.

Providing Valuable Insights

Your listeners are a treasure trove of insights. Their feedback offers valuable perspectives, fresh ideas, and constructive criticism. Embracing this input provides a unique lens through which you can refine your content, uncover blind spots, and continuously improve. It’s a symbiotic relationship where both the creator and the audience benefit from the exchange.

Build A Podcast Community

Use popular social media platforms to extend the conversation beyond your podcast episodes. Promote your podcast on Facebook, (X) Twitter, and then create dedicated groups or pages where listeners can discuss episodes, share insights, and connect with like-minded individuals. Regularly engage with your audience through polls, Q&A sessions, and exclusive content previews. 

When you have your audience base, actively seek and encourage listener feedback. Ask open-ended questions during your episodes, create a designated feedback channel, or include a call-to-action in your show notes. Incorporate listener comments and questions into your episodes to foster a sense of collaboration.

Additional Tips for Your Solo Podcasting

  • Pose a Thought-Provoking Question

“Introduce something that’s quick and easy, a short game that listeners can get involved with and they can stay engaged with you.”

Inject a dose of interactivity by posing a compelling question to your audience. Encourage them to share their thoughts, experiences, or opinions in the comments or through dedicated feedback channels. Fostering a two-way conversation transforms your podcast from a monologue into a dynamic dialogue.

  • Navigate Giveaways Wisely

Opt for quick and easy giveaways or short games that maintain listener interest without overwhelming your time and resources. Strike a balance between excitement and feasibility.

Conclusion

Solo podcasting is a powerful tool that empowers creators to wield complete creative control over their narrative. With no co-hosts or guests to share the stage, solo podcasters become the sole architects of their content, guiding listeners through a personalized and immersive experience.

The future of solo podcasting is bright, with endless possibilities for content creators to share their passions, stories, and expertise. So, grab your microphone, prepare your content, and start now!

Niall Mackay: Hello, it’s Niall Mackay, the podcast guy, and I’m back with another episode of Smarter Podcasting, just for you. I’ve been podcasting for years, and most of the time I interview other people on my show, but one thing I’ve wanted to experiment with is the idea of a solo podcast, just like I’m doing right now.

Niall Mackay: It’s a completely different experience to podcasting with a guest or a panel. So in today’s episode, I’m going to share with you five ways to help you create your own solo podcast or improve yours if you already have one.

Niall Mackay: It can be a daunting experience to get in front of a microphone by yourself and talk for however long you want your podcast to be. So in this episode, I’m going to share with you my top 5 tips to make your solo podcast the best it can be. So let’s get started.

[00:01:00]

Niall Mackay: Number one, spend time to research your topic. Make sure you do your homework and you’ve prepared your content for your solo episode.

Niall Mackay: So whether you’re an expert or a complete beginner at your topic and your chosen niche, make sure you prepare an outline of the episode topics and what you want to talk about.

Niall Mackay: A full script might be even better, it really depends on who you are.

Niall Mackay: Whether or not you use a full script and follow that completely is completely up to you.

Niall Mackay: I do a bit of both. Sometimes I will have my episode scripted word by word and follow that. And other times, just like now, I can talk about it. I have clients that do both methods. Some can talk about their topic, about their niche without even thinking, easily for half an hour.

Niall Mackay: One of the things you do have to watch out for if you don’t script it. Is the old classic um, And ah. There’s a big difference between scripting and not scripting and you will notice it. That if you just talk [00:02:00] off the cuff, you’re probably gonna use a lot more filler words. Now, obviously you can edit them out afterwards.

Niall Mackay: But, for a much smoother and better podcast, if you do um and uh a lot because you have to think about what you’re talking about, then you should probably have a full

Niall Mackay: But do make sure you research your topic before you start, it will give you more confidence, it will stop the ums and ahs and it will make your episode flow better and you will sound more like the expert that you already are.

Niall Mackay: now if you are going to create a podcast just by yourself with just you. Just remember how crucial your voice is. Your voice is the only one that people will hear. I hope you like my voice right now. I’ve been told it’s quite nice. Is it quite nice or is it just the accent? I can’t tell. But without a co host or a guest, there’s only one voice to carry that conversation and convey that information. So make sure you share your personality.

Niall Mackay: Nobody wants to listen to a podcast in a monotone [00:03:00] voice just describing exactly the information just like this. 70% of what you convey comes from your tone of voice and your body language. Now don’t worry about the body language if you’re only doing an audio podcast, but that means that you should use your body language even if you’re not recording and even if no one’s there.

Niall Mackay: That will come through in the tone of voice. Your tone, your inflection, your pacing and your energy all have a significant impact on how listeners perceive your podcast and whether or not they’re going to stick around for the full episode and come back for

Niall Mackay: more.

Niall Mackay: I’ve been podcasting for years, I’m a teacher, I’m a stand up comedian and I’m used to standing up and talking in front of people. Not everyone has that experience. If you’re podcasting solo for the first time, practice on your own. Practice at home first. Make sure you get that tone of voice, that energy in there so that people want to listen to you.

Niall Mackay: Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before. Everything can be achieved with practice.

Niall Mackay: Take that time [00:04:00] to develop your vocal skills, make sure you use that tone of voice, go up, go down, slow it down, get excited, anything that you can do to make sure that your voice is unique, the biggest tip I ever learned doing stand up comedy

Niall Mackay: applies to podcasting as well, is remember there is only one of you.

Niall Mackay: You don’t need to pretend to be anyone else. Be yourself because nobody else can be you. Once you do that, you’ve got the market sewn up. Thanks Bill Hicks for that advice.

[00:05:00]

Niall Mackay: My third tip is to create a story arc. Everybody loves a story. , if you think of all famous, that’s why we love movies, it’s why we love books, it’s why we love TV shows, even documentaries now, all have a story arc. That’s why I love watching Netflix.

Niall Mackay: If you have a solo podcast, no matter what it’s about, create a story arc. This will help build suspense, create anticipation, and keep your listeners hooked as you take them on a journey through that story.

Niall Mackay: It’s also going to help you organize your content in a more structured and meaningful way.

Niall Mackay: You should do that with an introduction. Some rising action to get people excited, a climax, some falling action, and then a resolution. Think of any rom com, they all follow the same story arc, boy meets girl, girl meets boy, they start to like each [00:06:00] other, then they maybe fall in love, then one of them does something to mess it up, they have an argument, they fall out, and then suddenly they find each other, they get back together, and it’s all happy ending.

Niall Mackay: That’s the same story arc that you should be following, no matter what topic you’re talking about.

Niall Mackay: People remember and connect with stories, not just bland, boring information.

Niall Mackay: So take the time to plan out your story arc and you’ll be on your way to having a really successful solo podcast.

Niall Mackay: My fourth tip is be vulnerable and be authentic.

Niall Mackay: Vulnerability and authenticity can make all the difference.

Niall Mackay: Your audience wants to hear your unique perspective and experiences and being open and honest can help you connect with them on a deeper level.

Niall Mackay: Sharing personal stories and struggles can be scary but it also allows you to create a relatable and human connection with your listeners. go back to my last episode and I share the biggest mistakes I’ve made from [00:07:00] podcasting.

Niall Mackay: Those are embarrassing. This is my full time job. I should not be telling you the mistakes that I made, including not pressing record on a podcast. I’m happy to share that with you to show that I’m a real person and I’m not perfect. I do make mistakes as well.

Niall Mackay: And authenticity is key because it allows you to stay true to your message and your value. Basically, don’t be fake. Be, be who you are. Listeners will be able to tell whether you’re being genuine or not, and they’ll also appreciate the effort that you’re putting into it.

Niall Mackay: Most of all though, remember to have fun and just let that authenticity shine through. Be yourself and that’s what will keep people coming

Niall Mackay: back.

Niall Mackay: And number five, for a solo podcast, make sure that you incorporate listener feedback. Listener feedback is a powerful way to build a loyal community of engaged and enthusiastic listeners. If you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know every episode I ask, go to the notes, there’s a link there and you can leave me a message, and when you [00:08:00] do, I will feature it

Niall Mackay: it in future.

Niall Mackay: I’m always asking other podcasters and friends for feedback on this episode or suggestions for new, or suggestions for new episodes. Make sure you take that feedback and then you use it.

Niall Mackay: But what you want to be doing with your podcast is not creating something that’s distant and exists over there. You want to build a community. You want to make your listeners feel part of it and by incorporating listener feedback and sharing that on the podcast and incorporating it into everything you do helps build that sense of community.

Niall Mackay: You’ve chosen your podcast niche because it’s something you’re passionate about and people are listening to it because they’re passionate about it as

Niall Mackay: So why not build it bigger than that? Talk to them on social media, ask for feedback and comments, ask for them to share your posts, build something bigger than just your

Niall Mackay: podcast.

Niall Mackay: And some extra little tips for you as well, you could ask a question

Niall Mackay: and another couple of extra things that you can do to [00:09:00] help your solo podcast is introduce a giveaway. Now don’t, now remember, introducing a giveaway can be time consuming, so don’t say every single listener message me now and I will send you all a personal handwritten note. It’s gonna take you forever.

Niall Mackay: Introduce something that’s quick and easy, a short game that listeners can get involved with and they can stay engaged with you. Then, don’t forget as well to have your call to action at the end. Drive listeners somewhere, and just one place. So, for me, I’m going to ask you, at the end of this episode, go to the notes, click on that link, leave me a voice message.

Niall Mackay: What did you think of this episode? What did you think of future episodes? I’ll share it on the podcast in the future. And the first person to do that, I’m going to give you a free one on one consultation call with me. I don’t know, is that a prize or a punishment? I’m not sure. But if you want that prize, leave me a message and then you can win it.

Niall Mackay: So you may be thinking, every [00:10:00] podcast I hear has somebody interviewing someone else. There’s always more than one person on a podcast. So do solo podcasts do well? Well, the success ultimately depends on the quality of the content. Your delivery and who you’re targeting. Some of the most successful podcasts out there are hosted by solo podcasters who’ve built a strong connection with their listeners through their unique voice, interesting topics, natural conversation, and engaging storytelling.

Niall Mackay: You do have to be a confident speaker because the double edged sword of a solo podcast is you have no co host, no guest, so you will be doing all the talking. A big advantage of having a solo podcast is that you have complete creative control over the content, which means you can choose the topics you want to cover, the format of the show, and how you want to engage with the audience.

Niall Mackay: Also, If you have a solo podcast, you can often produce them far more easily than with multiple hosts. One of the biggest challenges I hear with podcasters who have [00:11:00] multiple hosts is trying to organize a time that both of them are available. It’s double the work if you have an extra host, and even interviewing a guest is still double or triple the work than hosting a podcast solo.

Niall Mackay: Just remember though, people like to think that the podcasting space is crowded and there’s no room for no podcasts. This couldn’t be further from the truth at all. there’s something like six million new blog posts posted every day versus 250, 000 podcasts per week.

Niall Mackay: But, if you do want to stand out, focus on quality content.

Niall Mackay: So you do have to put in the time and the effort. But solo podcasts are much faster.

Niall Mackay: So follow these steps for your solo podcast, give me your feedback, I want to hear from you and if you do need any advice then just drop me an email, niallatsevenmillionbikes. com

Niall Mackay: to help you out. Happy podcasting,

Niall Mackay: Cheers.

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