Death by Numbers

Why you need to limit your digits when you podcast

Numbers. They can be an important part of your point but they can also turn off your listener if you throw too many at them at once. Nix the number overload!

I get it. Stats are an easy way to either prove your point or give your listener the scope of a situation. I’m all for have a percentage here and a big number there but not a whole heap of them in a row. Podcast is not the time and place for that.

Look numbers look good on paper. They might even sound good to you but let me tell you something – that’s because you’re staring at them. When you rattle them off all at once, it’s a total turn off. The listener just can’t follow when you overload them.

Do you remember old radio commercials (and even some TV commercials – especially the ones why they expect that you must be drunk or half asleep to be watching them) where they rattle off a phone number three times? “Just call 1-800-555-2699 that’s 1-800-555-2699. The number again is 1-800-555-2699.” They do that because they know the listener is not going to comprehend it the first (or even the second) time – oh and they want to give you time to run off and grab a pen because they know you desperately need a slanket with built-in popcorn bowl.  

If you remember these commercials you probably also remember that as often as possible they would change the numbers to words – again because they know numbers are hard. “That’s 1-800-Get Cozy!”

So, what you’re thinking. That’s radio not podcasting. Well… let me tell you something. That’s old radio. They don’t do that anymore. The reason they don’t is because you can give people a website instead and that’s a much more appropriate place to put the number. And that goes double for podcasting.

Let’s take for example, say a podcaster who likes to share his income report with his audience. Which experience would you rather have – hearing him read each line item to the penny or having him simply direct you to where you can find it on his website. I thought so.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not banning numbers. I’m not anti-number. I’m not a numerist. I LOVE stats!  I just think there’s a right way and a wrong way to use them. For example, that un-named podcaster with the income report – he’d do really well to share the one number that impressed or surprised him the most this month and then invite his audience to read the details on his site.

In this episode, I give you several ideas on how to use stats and numbers effectively in your podcast without overwhelming (and turning off) your listeners. So, now that you’ve read 9 paragraphs containing 473 words or 2166 characters why don’t you take a break and listen to my advice on how to avoid death by numbers.

I’ve got a number for you. 40. That’s how many specific elements of your podcast I assess when you hire me to critique your podcast. How many elements have you considered when you listen back?

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