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14 Inspiring Podcast Ideas to Surprise Your Listeners

14 Inspiring Podcast Ideas to Surprise Your Listeners

The number of Americans listening to podcasts is increasing. Commuters are replacing their playlists with podcasts, and consumers are tuning into online talk shows on the go.

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The increasing podcast usage has given passionate talkers an opportunity to connect with listeners at an emotional level.  But podcasting is not as easy as just buying a microphone, finding the right podcast hosting, that fits your needs, and setting up your first episode.

The hardest part of coming up with podcast ideas is..

..what to talk about?

This is why as a podcaster, you need to put in the time and work into researching the right topic – what your listeners want to hear. Knowing the right subject to discuss and how to discuss it to ensure maximum engagement and zero boredom is a skill every podcaster must develop.

I wish it was as easy as searching on Google.

(But it’s not.)

I understand that this mastery does not come easy. Especially if it’s your first podcast. This is why I have curated a list of exciting tactics you can adopt to add some spice to your podcasting.

Let’s gather some great podcast ideas for you:

1. Research engaging podcast topics

When it comes to podcasts, you must make an impressive first impression. How do you do that? By ensuring you are presenting a good podcast idea.

If you are a first-time podcast creator and just want to get started with your own podcast, ensure that you know your motivation or ambition.

Next ask yourself, “Why am I podcasting?” Your answer to this question will depend on your next line of action. For instance, if you are all about fun, you can develop a podcast topic from your everyday conversation. This may include your interests and hobbies, but with a touch of excitement and uniqueness.

Suppose your podcast is focusing on marketing a business or service, you should brainstorm relevant topics that are linked to your industry or niche. For instance, you can create a podcast on exercising if you are marketing a health and wellness app.

The principle here is to ensure that your podcast ideas are exciting and engaging and relevant to your niche. Podcasting on a topic you are passionate about will make the creative process easier for you and the content fun for your listeners.

Interestingly, it is possible to choose a podcast topic with no link to your business or service. This is a strategy employed in Earwolf network’s comedy podcast, How Did This Get Made?. The podcast focuses on the analysis and mockery of unusually below-par movies.


Image Source: Earwolf Podcast Network

2. Go fiercely specific

The global podcast collection currently stands at about 1 million active podcasts. Although it is not as large as the website and blog collection, the fact remains that it is a busy segment of the online space.

Therefore, to stand a good chance of breaking into the scene, you must ensure that your podcasts stand out from the norm. Podcasts that are not focused on a very specific topic or niche will most likely end up lost in the mix.

Let’s consider a podcast on communication tips. The norm is to discuss random communication hacks. However, you can make yours unique by podcasting on how parents and children can communicate or how office workers can communicate.

This slight specificity narrows down your potential audience and confers a unique angle on your podcast. Your target audience will find the content perfect and more valuable since it directly addresses them and no one else. They will think that the podcast is made for them only.

3. Start with “What’s in it for me”

Ask me, “how to start a podcast?” And I will tell you to pour in “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)” – the question we ask too many times. In fact, it comes before every decision we make or the actions we take in the course of the day.

Humans are naturally wired to act on their interests. When leveraged the right way, this behavioral drive can get anyone to dance to your tune – or have them hooked from the moment you say the first sentence.

According to Daniel Decker, an expert in strategic marketing, “WIIFM is the question whose answer tells people why they should listen (or not) to whatever you have to say.” Apparently, only the right answer can convince them they are spending their time judiciously by listening to you.

So, start by introducing your listeners to why this episode of your podcast is worth their time. Are you offering a solution to a problem? Or giving them a crucial, life-changing tip?

You can take a cue from Jim Kwik, a popular brain coach whose first line is always a vital question that will keep the audience glued to their listening device. For example, if his podcast idea is about quietening the brain, he starts it with a question like “how to quiet the brain” to capture the listeners’ attention.


Image Source: Kwik Learning

4. Storytelling never fails

The secret to the best podcasts of all time is the content. And what better content is there than stories? Telling interesting stories with the right hooks will make your listeners look forward to your new episode. For one person podcasters, storytelling is no less than an elixir of their podcast longevity.

Wondering how and where to get the stories? The truth is everything you say or do is a story. From the regular jokes with friends to memories you share with strangers, they are all valuable potential storylines that can be developed with the proper storytelling hooks.

One author who has mastered the art of storytelling using hooks is Brene Brown, author of “Daring Greatly”. She often shares her kitchen stories in her podcasts while staying in the purview of the topic.


Image Source: Brene Brown

5. Recap a common movie or book

People find it easier to relate to content that exposes them to an entirely new experience. The new experience can be anything in the region of a book or a movie you enjoyed.

It is even better if it is a popular movie or book, where you can pick a couple of lively talking points and potential conversations. Start these conversations while hosting a podcast and watch with awe how your listeners stay glued.

This tip has worked well for the Potterless Podcast, where the podcast host is a 25-year-old man reading and discussing various Harry Potter book series with Potter fans.

6. How about some recent happenings?

Admittedly, it is not every time we learn something that is exciting or remarkable in the news. But when such occurrences happen, do not hesitate to integrate them into your podcast.

Let’s say the other day, you heard about the heart-warming news of a 60-year-old who beat cancer twice. You can integrate happenings like this into your podcast topic.

Doing this helps in two ways, it relieves you of the intense pressure of creating relevant content, and it gives your audience something great to talk about.

Suddenly, everyone wants to tell their friends about the “Woman who MIRACULOUSLY defeated cancer,” and, of course, without forgetting to mention you as their source.

Note that your podcast episode does not have to be entirely about the news. You can just create a segment where you talk about recent happenings and get people to look forward to getting informed by you.

The latest health news Ben Greenfield integrates into his podcast has helped him expand his reach. He recently did a podcast on cancer, where he discussed the Scientific American article on cancer diagnosis.


Image Source: Ben Greenfield Fitness

7. Talk about relevant surveys, studies, and facts

Have you ever wondered why people are interested in fact lists, surveys, and authentic studies? Well, the reasons are not far-fetched. Such resources offer updated knowledge, which in turn, makes all feel smart or smarter. They also provide informed perspectives on a subject matter.

People want to see fact lists and see where they can agree or disagree. Others want to consume this information as a form of reward for the researcher, as in a podcast.

Is there any new thing you have learned and are convinced your listeners will find interesting? Go ahead and discuss it in your next podcast episode. While at it, add how you conclude that such information is valid (or not).

A name that comes to mind here, again, is Ben Greenfield. Greenfield does share not only recent surveys or studies but also shares his thoughts on the same.

8. Quotes work well

Your claims become even more plausible when you back them up with quotes. So, when you use the right quotes from famous people in your podcasts, you are bringing uniqueness and professionalism into the equation.

These supportive words have a way of adding more value to your podcasts. Jim Kwik is one podcaster who often uses this trick. He adds famous quotes from experts or the ones he made himself to his podcasts.

Such quotes go a long way in keeping things short – a hack that comes really handy for listeners with a short attention span.

9. Discuss personal experiences

People will always want to learn about another person’s experience; after all, human beings are wired to crave new information.

When you discuss personal experiences people can relate with, it helps them develop a strong bond, deeper understanding, and a sense of satisfaction for such content. 

So, feel free to share personal experiences that relate to your podcast topic. It can come in the form of adventures or attempts at life – either failed or successful. Either way, highlight the lessons and values you gained from such experiences.

This is a strategy Tim Ferris has adopted in his perfect podcasts. The author of The 4-Hour Workweek is popular for always raising personal concerns over any topic idea he is discussing. For instance, his recent podcast featuring Dr. Kelly Starret touched on his tight quads and out-of-shape back.


Image Source: The Tim Ferriss Show

10. Offer valuable tools and references 

There are a lot of things people can do with the right recommendations. For a section of your listeners, these recommendations can shape their mindset to rebuild, repair, re-strategize, and rebound.

Introducing your audience to valuable tools or useful recommendations makes your podcast even more worthwhile, both in the present and future.

Recommendations usually contain strong but clear messages. They can come in the form of songs, tools, books, movies, games, products, albums, destinations, and any other thing that interests you and may engage your audience, giving them something to takeaway.

For instance, listeners of the Marketing Over Coffee podcasts get regular recommendations in the form of marketing tools. A recent episode of the podcast recommended the cloud as a business system. Other times, it can be actionable business tips.

11. A piece of advice won’t hurt

There is a cult value that comes with every quick piece of advice. For instance, someone creates fear and follows it up with a simple doctrine that will help you escape from the same fear.

Do you want to ease the fears of your listeners? Offer them a piece of good advice when you have any.

In one of my favorite podcasts,  Smart Passive Income, Amy Porterfield and her co-host Pat Flynn, offered advice on quizzes, “A quiz really helps people decide, “Would this be something that’s right for me, or maybe I’m jumping the gun?”

Tip: Make sure the advice is a quick and actionable fix.

12. Discuss changes

Your podcasting becomes even more valuable when you talk about positive changes people want to hear. Every other day, we read stories of how unemployed, broke people break the shackles of depression, work on ill-health to rebuild, get a top-paying job, and live their best lives.

These massive changes, in the ears of the right person, can spark a ray of hope. For instance, you can consider discussing the pre- and post-COVID life changes and how it affects people.

It is a topic with a lot of angles to approach from.

13. Get interactive with a Q and A segment.

As much as you want to pass information to your listeners, it becomes an information dump when there is no engagement. Make your podcasts a two-way knowledge exchange by involving your listeners.

If you are sticking to the basic rule of “podcast as a focused conversation”, then your content should always revolve around what your listeners want to know or already know. And proper engagement with the audience is a vital strategy adopted by top speakers. 

Involving the listeners in the conversation helps you grab the information in the content faster, thus highlighting how valuable the podcast is.

You can engage your audience by asking them to send in questions via email or social media. Sieve through and answer the best ones. You can also invite experts to answer these questions.

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the great influencers out there. Using his #AskGaryVee hashtag, he gets questions from followers and provides answers via his podcasts.


Image Source: Twitter

14. Nudge them to take further action

How do you conclude that your podcasts speak volumes?

Rather than saying your goodbyes the usual way, introduce a basic nudge that makes them take further action.

What do you want your audience to do after the podcast? Find a way to integrate this into your parting words without necessarily derailing.

You can ask them to follow you on social media, direct them to your website for more actionable and valuable tips on the topic discussed, or introduce them to the never-seen-before cuts of your upcoming episodes.

Let’s bring Tim Ferris back at this point. He enjoys concluding his own podcasts by inviting people to join him (or his guest) on social media to discuss the topic more. For instance, his recent podcast with Chuck Palahniuk ended with him recommending a Sylvia Plath book alongside some social channels of Chuck Palahniuk.

Wrapping up

Note that not all the recommended tips will fit your type of content. You do not have to apply all the 14 podcast tips discussed above at once. So, take the time to see which will work best for you.

Feel free to start with a few of these creative ideas and see how much more engagement you drive. You can also swap them to get the level of personalization you desire.

Tip: Do you need help with your podcast project? Hire an expert or a freelancer on Fiverr.

If you need to expand on these strategies and adjust them till they suit your goals, do so. Nothing is stopping you from getting creative, especially if it will drive more engagement.

Keep putting out great podcast content!

Guest author: Eduard Klein is International Digital Growth Marketer, Blogger, and Entrepreneur with a global mindset.
He guides how to ride the wave of digital technology & marketing – and not get swept away. You can contact him on Twitter or Linkedin.

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