This seems to be an age-old question. Some shows are short and sweet, others tend to take up hours. So what is the right answer?
Last year I talked with John Chambers of the “One Minute Tip” podcast. He talked about how simple and how complex even a show that lasts only sixty seconds can be. After all, you don’t want to go over the 60 second mark, so you have to be concise with your words or else you might not get the message across. Too many words and you’re rushing to fit them all in. Too few a words and you’ll have to stretch to hit the mark.
Podcast Sweet Spot – 15 to 20 Minutes
I have heard this many times before – try not to go over 20 minutes when podcasting. You start to lose audiences, and they might stop listening to your show. For some people, 20 minutes might even be too long.
Let’s take a look at older media – Radio and TV. They usually had 7 minute segments before going to commercial. Was that just so they can sell more ad spots, or really was it to give you a change of pace so they could continue on longer?
Let’s talk drop-off points: a 15 minute show might lose 75% of the audience by the 10-12 minute mark. Maybe the listener ran out of time, or just got tired of listening. Either way, most stats will show that drop off point happens – no matter what the situation.
Therefore, a good show sees a 7 minute time limit. If you have to go longer, it might be best to do two – 7 minute segments with a 30 second break. Even if you don’t put an ad in there, you might be giving them something else to focus on.
Try This: Get a Stopwatch. Time yourself in how long it takes you to deliver your podcast. Challenge yourself to go a little shorter than last time. The “Eye on time” could help you get a better pace with your show.
What About Video Podcasts? What Time Limit Should They Have?
I always have said that video can be a different beast when it comes to podcast shows. You first have to determine if your show is going to be watched in front of a computer, or on a couch with the family. If your show is best viewed at a computer desk, then regular podcast rules apply. However, if someone watches your show while sitting down in the living room, they might not want to watch a 7 minute show.
I think of it this way: when I invest time on my couch, it’s going to be for at least 30 minutes. That way, the relaxation can begin. The last thing I want to do is turn on a show thats going to end in 7 minutes. Then I have to spend time trying to find another show to relax from.
If your show is meant to be watched from the couch, then at least a 20 minute time limit should be set. That gives people time to relax. Don’t forget to give them a break every 6-7 minutes, though.
When is is OK to do Longer than 20 Minutes?
This is not the “Be-all End-all” of podcasting. There are many shows that go longer than 20 minutes and have lots of viewers. If your content cannot be contained in a 20 minute timeframe, then experiment.
If I had a chance to talk to the President of the United States, I might just take more than 20 minutes (if we can be engaging for that long). The cool thing about going over, is you could go back and edit. So a 60 minute Q&A would turn into a 5 minute podcast of the important highlights. Heck, in a case like that, you could say “If you want to hear the whole interview, go here…”
The idea is to check with your audience and see if they are getting into your work. If you see a low audience, or the stats say 100% drop off by a certain time, try shortening your show a bit. Figure out what you are going to say, and find new ways to say it to save time.
Not everyone can do a one-minute show. Not everyone wants a one-minute show. Whatever time you choose, keep an eye on the stats to see if the audience approves.