When you apply proven and working mechanisms of psychology in podcasting you will benefit from having a more engaging show, deliver more value to your listeners, improve the education values of your podcast, and build an image of a highly skilled educator and a trusted advisor.
Do you want to have a more engaging show and retain your listeners for longer?
How can all of this be achieved?
Psychology is still a young science. The discipline has seen most of its significant advancements in the past century itself. Its applications are gaining prominence in the present time. There is an increased attempt to understand how and why humans react and behave; and use the findings to make products, services, or brand communication more effective and relevant.
On a similar note, I believe in applying psychology in podcasting to make it more effective.
Before I elaborate on how to use psychology in podcasting for better content quality, let us first understand what exactly psychology is.
Defining Psychology for podcasting needs
According to the American Psychological Association, psychology is the study of mind and behavior.
And if we want to know why psychology matters, it can be explained in the form of the goals, it tries to attain. These are:
- understanding and explaining human behavior, and
- using the findings to predict or change it.
Podcasting, in its essence, relies on the connection developed with the listeners.
As compared to other media, listeners don’t jump from one podcast to another too often. Rather, they invest their time in a few selected shows and prefer to come back for more episodes.
Most listeners would vouch for their favorite podcasts, as they believe it to be a more credible source of information than any other broadcast media.
And that deepens my belief that applying psychology in podcasting can help you establish a stronger connection with the listeners.
How to use psychology in podcasting?
Understanding the human mind is like exploring deep waters!
Even after years of extensive research and studies by psychologists, what we know is just the tip of the iceberg.
However, there are a few aspects that have been observed to enhance learning. You can use these to effectively apply psychology in podcasting to make your content click with the audience.
Repetition is the basis for education – this is my favorite psychology in podcasting tool. Listeners are grateful for valuable repetitions.
Repetitio est mater studiorum, which means that repetition is the mother of all learning. Do you remember learning the same poem over and over again when you were a child?
Or, in your adulthood, you might unknowingly end up memorizing all the fine details of a political scandal because the constant media coverage exposed you to the new tit-bits of the story every other day.
Repetition helps individuals of all age groups grasp a new concept or a story.
It also helps them understand and explore complex topics and new ideas. This is a very useful point when it comes to utilizing psychology in podcasting.
You can employ repetition in multiple ways to hook the listeners to your podcast.
Repetition helps plant your storyline or core content in your listener’s mind.
A listener would not like to rewind and listen to the same part again hence you should be a bit repetitive in your narration in order to make things clear.
If your podcast has a duration of thirty minutes or more, you will have to directly or indirectly remind the listeners of the key point.
People tend to forget non-repetitive content.
A topic covered earlier may not be grasped or remembered accurately by your listeners. The listeners would not retain 100% of the information and would not end up using it.
Instead of searching for brand new ideas for every episode, it will be worthwhile to go back and work on the same topics again. But I don’t mean a bland copy.
You can cover your previous topics from new angles – it will make it more valuable for people, and they would be actually applying the knowledge. Working on the same content again doesn’t mean regurgitating the old stuff.
You can use new case studies to further establish or explain your point. There can be multiple episodes around the same topic, for example:
- an episode with a general list of ideas,
- deep-dive episodes where you explore the finer details,
- you can also interview different experts on the topic, bringing in multiple viewpoints for your listeners.
The Forgetting Curve
The theory traces back its origin to the 19th century, and it holds great importance for applying psychology in podcasting.
German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus performed multiple memory experiments and observed that people tend to forget information over time, and it is necessary to repeat it to learn it again and again in order to retain it.
And, of course, one cannot disagree with his findings. We have long forgotten the stuff that we learned in high school, but teachers remember the syllabus very well as they have to explain it many times to different classes over many years.
This tendency of individuals to forget information strengthens my previous point – the importance of repetition in podcasting.
The forgetting curve is another reason to reuse your material wisely.
You may be worried about sharing new and fancy stuff in each episode. But your listeners would be happy if you remind them of something you have told them a long time ago and if they could implement or use that knowledge.
If you shared any incredible statistics to support your episode content weeks or months ago, you could say it again, and your listeners would be delighted.
If you have solved a problem for them, you can remind them of the solution.
It is possible that many listeners didn’t use your solution the first time around. This doesn’t mean that it holds no value for them; rather, it’s mostly because people are busy or some even procrastinate from time to time.
A reminder to do something might be appreciated by them.
Make sure vital information is brought back again
Since information is lost when we don’t attempt to retain it, your listeners might forget parts of your episodes, something you wouldn’t want if you are running a show with a linear storyline. You can keep your listeners connected by ensuring a tight script that doesn’t stray away from the narrative. Don’t have way too many characters or plot twists in the show. And at the beginning of each episode, give a short recap of the previous one.
You can also work around the forgetting curve by sticking to a fixed format for each episode.
Listeners would be able to recognize the pattern and learn more.
The Aha Moment
When the apple fell on Newton’s head, and suddenly the idea of gravity emerged in his mind, you can imagine the kind of happiness he must have felt.
And there is actually a moniker for it, it’s called the ‘aha moment’! Psychologists have studied it for years. The term is used for the specific moment when pieces of a puzzle fall into place, and the person finally figures out the crux of a complex problem.
The person feels happy as the brain gets reward signals.
Many researchers believe that this is the feeling that has contributed to the development of science and culture, as individuals felt rewarded by discovering new things or solving societal problems.
You can make ‘aha moments’ a part of your podcast.
Use this trick of psychology in podcasting to give the listener a rush of positive feelings while listening to you. Employ the ‘aha moment’ as a storytelling device. Begin with a complex situation, and proceed with your narrative to simplify it and move towards a climax that gives listeners an ‘aha moment’!
Listeners should get clear takeaways from each episode.
You can also break your storyline into smaller parts to deliver multiple insights.
Another useful strategy could be to solve the same problem in multiple ways. This will increase the Eureka effect, and listeners would also feel more connected when you give more than one solution rather than going for a one-size-fits-all approach.
Make Information retention easy
Use tricks to help the audience remember what you have said.
Don’t overload listeners with info.
You are making a podcast, not writing a complicated textbook. If you are making very informative and solution-oriented episodes, keep them short, say 15 to 20 minutes, so people can remember more.
Are you worried it might be too short? Don’t. Length needs to match the material (I’ve already covered all the doubts, extensively here).
Discussions, interviews, panels can be longer, as ideas are floating around and not everything has to be retained by listeners.
Consider your audience to be laymen.
If your podcast refers to a complex theory or has jargon, simplify it for them before proceeding forward.
Incorporate storytelling – this way of using psychology in podcasting creates strong bonds.
Use real-life examples that your listeners can relate to. Break down complex ideas into short and simple sentences that are spoken in a logical sequence.
Build pictures with your words so that listeners can visualize your narration. Emphasis on the main point two-three times in non-repetitive ways in your episode. At the end of each episode, your listeners should be satisfied or have some clear takeaways with them that they would remember- it will make them come back for more episodes.
Here are some tips to help you with episode structure planning.
Dunning Kruger Effect
Cornell psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger coined this term in 1999, and it talks about how people overestimate themselves.
This essentially means that when people learn a small portion of knowledge about complex things, they overestimate their level of knowledge and skills.
This is good for you if you want to incorporate learning from psychology in podcasting.
You can use the Dunning Krugger effect to inspire and motivate listeners.
They will feel empowered after listening to your podcast and would like to come back for more info. Many people search for blogs and Youtube videos to learn new things and search for solutions. You can position your podcast into that space.
When you are sharing information or insights in a podcast episode, aim for a similar effect as Ted Talks. People should feel that listening to you enriches them in some way.
Emphasize how your ideas can improve their life. Combine this with the ‘aha moment’ moment and awe your listeners. This will make them feel good about what they have learned.
And when you find fresh aspects of solutions, you can reintroduce them to your listeners. Avid listeners would be happy to receive new updates.
It reflects your commitments to your podcast and your genuine interest in doing something for your audience. It can give listeners the same effect as if they learned something new and groundbreaking.
Check this if you want to learn more how to create good educational podcasts.
Capturing the flickering attention
Attention spans have become smaller, while more and more content has permeated every sphere of our lives. In fact, the average attention span of a human being has dropped to eight seconds.
Competition is tough, but it is still possible to win over a demanding audience. A short attention span doesn’t mean that a podcast has to be short, it means that it has to appear insightful and important.
Here is a longer material how to do it. But in summary:
- Tailor your content in a manner that will encourage listeners to stay and listen more.
- Don’t talk in circles, be direct and meaningful.
- Come to the point and introduce your topic or agenda (the benefit your listener would get from listening to the episode) in the very beginning.
If a podcast is genuinely long, it’s okay. But don’t overstretch your content or use too many fillers.
Simple and easy to grasp sentences and ideas that don’t puzzle the listeners should form the crux of your episode.
It would be good to assess who your target audience is, as it has psychological implications on how they engage with your content.
For example, a podcast focused on a more literary or intellectual audience can benefit from the greater attention span of such listeners, and the content can be presented accordingly.
Something created for laymen or the general audience should be more simple but effective.
In a nutshell, understanding how people think and react can help you make your podcast more likable and relatable.
Spending a little time to apply psychology in podcasting would be really worth the effort in terms of improving content quality and increasing the listener’s engagement.
What is your favorite psychological mechanism you use in your podcast?