When I listen to a radio show or podcast I’ve never heard before, the first 10 seconds are critically important. The first impression your podcast makes is equally as important as the first impression you make when meeting a new person.
Nail this first impression and you may have a friend – or listener – for life. Blow it, and I’m on to the next person or podcast.
The singular most important attribute to put across in the first 10 seconds of your podcast is energy.
As a listener, I need you to make me feel like this is the place to be, like there’s no other place you’d rather be. Because if you’d rather be someplace other than hosting your podcast, I guaran-damn-te you I’d rather be someplace other than listening to your podcast.
I need energy.
I need enthusiasm.
I need you to verbally take me by my shirt and say, “you found the right place, man!” “This is where you need to be!”
I don’t need your Twitter handle, I don’t need your Instagram handle, I don’t need your email address, I don’t need to know the phone number to call in or the temperature of the room you’re broadcasting from, or what you’ll be talking about later, I NEED ENERGY!
Don’t confuse energy with high-pressure, used car salesman. Don’t confuse energy with screaming. Don’t confuse energy with late-night infomercial guy. The energy I am looking for in the first 10 seconds of a podcast is the energy that tells me this host is totally in to this podcast episode. I need to feel I am receiving 100% of their focus, their attention, their intellect, their humor – their whole being.
As a podcast host, in the first 10 seconds of every episode, you need to convince me to stick around for the rest and the way you do that is through your energy. How you make me feel as a listener. That this is the only place to be right now. I found it. Get ready. We’re gonna have fun, you’re gonna learn something, this is a valuable use of your time.
You achieve this with the tone of your voice, the quality of your voice, the animation in your voice. You achieve this by feeling it yourself, by actually being excited to host your podcast.
If you aren’t excited to be hosting this podcast, you can’t fake it. If that’s the case, stop reading, discontinue your podcast, and do something else. If there’s anything you’d rather be doing while hosting your podcast, then do that other thing because I can tell, your audience can tell, you can tell, and you’re wasting all of our time.
I recognize it can be difficult to physically create this feeling if you’re in a tiny studio all by yourself. Even so, you’ve got to belt your podcast out to the back row. I don’t care if you’re broadcasting to no one else in person and only your parents online, you need to host your podcast like you’re giving the keynote address at the Republican or Democratic National Convention in front of 20,000 people live and 20 million watching on TV.
Initially, this will be awkward. It feels weird, frankly. But it’s essential.
If you have a hard time finding this energy engage in some sort of physical activity before turning on the microphone. Do jumping jacks, push-ups, jog around the block. Get your heart rate up, your blood pumping, and take that energy to the microphone.
Energy. Energy. Energy.
Your podcast is a performance. Think of it like a basketball game, a concert, a play, a stand-up routine. You need energy to perform at your best.
Let’s hear two examples of beginning a show with energy from my radio station, 1010XL in Jacksonville. Within the first 10 seconds of both of these clips, you can hear that the host sounds excited – not crazy, zany, over-caffeinated – but excited, happy to be hear, enthusiastic, and moves right into the show’s content without preamble.