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How to use language to connect with your audience

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by in Podcasting
Words have power spelled in blocks

What you say matters just as much as how you say it

A good presenter is engaging, entertaining, relatable and most of all someone who can build a strong connection with their audience.

That’s easier said than done when you consider effective communication is made up of…

Good communication

So, when you’re hosting a podcast you’re basically communicating without the bit that has the biggest impact…body language.

Body language is one of those things we don’t often think about but it’s so important when you’re building rapport.

If you’re sitting across from someone who’s fidgeting and looking at the floor while saying “this is the best fun I’ve had all year” you probably won’t believe them.

Conversely, if you’re on a first date you’ll know if you’ve got a connection with someone just by the way they look at you, even if they don’t utter a word.

So when all you’ve got is audio and none of these social cues are available, it’s even more important to give serious thought to what you say and how you say it.

How to use tone to connect with your audience

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Good presenting sounds like it’s easy

Shows that people enjoy listening to are ones where the presenters are relaxed and in control.

Often when you listen to shows like this it can sound like presenting is a piece of cake.  But that just means the people behind the mic are doing their job properly.

A professional presenter is always a couple of steps ahead of their audience and they never stop thinking about what’s coming out of their mouth.

Eventually, this becomes automatic the more experience you have but when you’re starting out you’ll have to put a bit more thought into what you’re doing to get it right.

I’ve written about how “you” is the most important word you can use if you want to connect with your audience.  But here are some other things to think about when it comes to the language you use…

The most important word to use in your podcast

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Always use conversational language

Sitting behind a microphone is a big deal for some people, especially if they haven’t had much experience.  It’s easy to feel like there’s a need to formalise your language or “over sell” what you’re talking about.

Obviously, there’s more weight in a moment when it’s being recorded or being listened to by random ears but it’s important to remain cool, calm and collected.

You need to find the balance between being familiar but not overly familiar, being relaxed without sounding lazy and loosening things up while still sounding like you’re in control.

You have to talk to your audience like they’re old friends, not strangers and relaxing your language is a huge part of that.

How to keep an audience engaged when podcasting solo

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Paint a picture in your listener’s mind

“Theatre of the mind” is a wanky radio term that means using the kind of words and descriptions that put your listeners exactly where you are.

The only way people can connect with something you’re talking about is if they can relate to it and the only way to do that is if they can see it in their mind.

To do this it’s important to choose words that describe a situation, place or experience so your listeners can be there with you.

You want them to see it, feel it, get emotional about it and to do that you need to be descriptive.

How to find content for your podcast

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Don’t use jargon

Obviously, jargon means different things to different people and will depend on who you’re talking to.  If you’re doing a show for rocket scientists you’re obviously going to use a few words us regular chumps won’t know but that’s why it’s important to always have your audience top of mind.

You never want them thinking “I don’t know what they’re talking about” because they’ll just turn off.

No one likes feeling like an idiot and using unnecessary jargon doesn’t make you sound smart, it makes people feel excluded.

Are these things holding you back from starting a podcast?

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Create a show language

Don’t be afraid to use language that makes your listeners feel part of a club but be mindful to do it in a way where people can catch on pretty quickly.

As you grow your audience new listeners will almost always start with your latest episode and work their way back so if you’re heavy on in-jokes and people feel like they’ll need to listen to all 300 episodes to work out WTF you’re talking about you’ll lose them.

Using words that make your listeners feel part of your team is a great way to bring them into the show and build a lasting connection.

On my old podcast, Paul and Rach, we called all our listeners “mad rooters.”

This started when we were on radio together and slowly crept into the show until listeners were calling us mad rooters and next thing you knew, the club was born. If you were a Paul and Rach listener, you were a mad rooter.  

Having a shared language with your audience builds a connection that lasts long after the show is finished and even know, over a decade later, old fans of the show still call us that.  That’s a magical thing.

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

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