(By Randy Lane) My wife JoAnn and I recently visited a popular sushi restaurant for the first time in Westlake Village where we live, north of Los Angeles. The décor was beautiful and inviting. That’s where the positive experience ended.
We were greeted by an aloof hostess who seated us with menus. A few minutes later a brusque waiter reviewed the evening specials. We felt excluded and had to vie for attention the entire evening. To add insult to injury, the check was a car payment!
The next week we tried an Italian restaurant for the first time. We felt warmly welcomed, and the staff seemed genuinely happy we were there. The waiter was attentive, informative and friendly. The food, service, and atmosphere became an unforgettable experience. We left feeling a part of their family. It’s now our favorite restaurant.
Many radio shows and podcasts lose potential fans in the first few minutes or even seconds because they are not inclusive. Welcome new and occasional listeners by making them feel part of the family.
Here are four simple ways to be inclusive and make new listeners feel like they are part of your fan club:
- Execute clear setups. Start content segments with a headline of your content, what we call the 8-second grab. Then set up topics, dilemmas, and discussions with a crisp explanation in one or two sentences. Don’t make listeners work to figure out meandering setups. Non-fans won’t; they’ll switch stations.
2. Set up television shows and movies. Most of your audience have not seen the show or movie, even if it’s number one on TV and at the box office. Set up TV and movie conversations with a one- or two-sentence premise and an audio clip. Discussions about specific scenes will drive listeners away when they are unfamiliar with the show or movie.
3. Reset clearly and briefly. Shows often continue a conversation from a previous segment without letting newly tuned-in listeners in on the topic. When there’s no context, listeners feel left out of the conversation.
Bert (The Bert Show) often resets character traits for new listeners, such as, “If you’re new to the show, Cassie has had body issues for years.”
It’s particularly annoying to listeners who tune in to an interview and guests are not reintroduced every few minutes. Close interviews by telling listeners who was just interviewed for the benefit of listeners just tuning-in.
4. Name check the cast. Refer to one another by name on ensemble shows. It makes it easier to follow conversations when two males or two females have similar-sounding voices. Name-checking also connects names with voices and builds familiarity with individual players.
In the documentary Spielberg, actors like Tom Hanks, Laura Dern, and Matt Damon talk about how Steven Spielberg makes his movies easy to follow. He shows what every character is doing and thinking in every scene as he moves the story forward. The best radio shows and podcasts do the same thing and grow their audience by being inclusive.