Your brand is making a podcast, and your boss wants you to give feedback notes to the producers.
Maybe you listen to lots of podcasts, and maybe this will be your first time, but you’ll do great.
I’ve spent twenty-odd years making content for podcasts and broadcasts, developing shows, leading creative teams, and training producers and hosts. Every single show I’ve worked on was made better when someone gave me their honest and considered insights about it, no matter whether they were first time listeners or grizzled podcast pros.
Always remember this: You don’t have to know what goes into making a show, to know what you get out of it. So if you’re asked for feedback, own your expertise as an audience member. Here’s how:
Have a conversation about feedback ahead of time
Even a quick set up chat can help establish the groundwork for great conversations throughout the podcast production process. I even have a worksheet I send along to teams that will be reviewing our shows. It includes a bit about the show’s mandate, invites them to think about elements like tone, pace, and performance, and acts as a handy checklist if they haven’t reviewed audio content before. (I’ve shared it below if you want to take a look.)
Yes, you’re going to have to talk about your feelings
As a producer, I want you to feel something when you listen to our podcast, because no one who is indifferent to a show is going to subscribe to hear more of it. I’ll make a million choices (what type of music, what style or writing, how long interview clips run) to convey the values and voice of a show. These choices will be totally different if it’s a gritty, fast-paced true crime series, than if it’s a thoughtful, in-depth interview show. If one of these production choices hits an off note emotionally, you’ll know it in your gut when you listen, and I want to know about it too.
Be specific. Like, really, really specific
Different listeners prefer different things, and while I’m happy to know if you loved or hated something, I need to know exactly what triggered that response so I can do more or less of it. As you listen, keep notes on when you hear something that stands out, details on what is, as well as why you’ve noted it (e.g. “At 16:37 the host saying ‘Hey Y’all!’ didn’t sound authentic given her personality, and it distracted me from the narrative a bit.”).
Nominate one person to feed back the feedback
Pick someone from your team to consolidate all the feedback from the group before it gets passed along, so there’s nothing ambiguous (for example, someone leaving a question to the group like “Hey, I wonder if this would be a good place for us to mention x,y, z?”) or conflicting suggestions (e.g. Reviewer 1: “This music is great!” Reviewer 2: “I don’t like the music here!”).
Above all else, know that yes, producers really do want to know what you think about the show. I define feedback about audio the way I do feedback in all other areas of life:
It’s information shared with the intent to help someone better succeed.
We’re all part of a team making this podcast together, so don’t be shy. Tell me what you really think.
Here’s that worksheet I mentioned, in case you find it useful to help you and your team “think in audio” when giving feedback on your latest podcast project. Feel free to borrow any bits you like, and really make it your own. (And of course, I’d love to hear your feedback if you try it out.)
PACIFIC CONTENT PODCAST FEEDBACK CHECKLIST
Thanks for being part of our pre-release feedback group for the new podcast series, Insert Title Here. As content producers, we love having people listen to our shows as our audience would, bringing fresh ears to the project.
Feel free to give the project a listen as you might to any podcast, and then do a sit-down listen where you take notes. The listening experience can be very different walking your dog, versus sitting in front of a computer.
Some areas we’d especially love your thoughts on:
MANDATE: Here is the show’s mission statement:
Insert values and mandate here
- How well does the show accomplish what it sets out to do?
- Where do you feel it is most effective?
- Where does it stray from its purpose?
TONE: Are there any areas that hit a high note, or an off note?
- Host’s voice, words and intonation?
- Music cues?
- What words would you use to describe the tone of the show overall as someone listening to it?
PACING: Are we telling you the right amount, at the right speed?
- What about the host’s read?
- Tempo at which we move between scenes?
- Is there a spot where you feel your attention flag, or feel you were taken out of a scene too soon?
CONTENT and STORYTELLING: Are we giving the right information, and do you know why?
- Have we set up the context for the show overall?
- Context for the scenes and characters?
- Do you feel you have been guided through a story arc?
- Was there a spot where you felt lost?
OVERALL PRODUCTION: Are there elements of the listening experience that added to or took away from the content and storytelling?
- How was the volume level? (anything too loud or too soft)
- Music cues appropriate?
- Length and content of clips and quotes?
- What did this show leave you feeling?
- If you had listened as a regular audience member, how long would have stayed engaged?