How to Use Critical Listener Feedback to Become a Better Host

Most broadcasters would wholeheartedly agree that feedback from listeners is one of the things they care about most, and for good reason. In most cases, the size of one’s audience and its growth pattern over time are largely what make a show a success or a failure.

In this article, you’ll learn how to do two things. First, we’ll show you how to effectively solicit feedback from your listeners and highlight a few neat tools that remove the pain from the act of sending in feedback. Second, you’ll find out how to respond to negative feedback without sabotaging your show or podcast.

Getting Feedback: Industry Best Practices

The first step in ensuring that you listeners send in their comments, questions, and concerns is to open up a few different channels that they could use. There are a number of complementary ways to ensure that your most passionate fans (and critics) get in touch with you:

1. Use SpeakPipe

Speakpipe is a tool that lets your website visitors easily leave voicemail messages using only their computer mic. After pasting a snippet of code into your website, you’ll have the option of having the tool appear at the bottom corner of your show website or as a separate section inside one your website pages. A lot of hosts have started using the tool, and rightly so. As the show producer, you can include your listener’s voice messages inside your episodes, thereby making your broadcasts more fun and engaging for your audience. Also, the likelihood is that by having a range of ways to receive feedback, you’ll simply get a lot more of it.

2. Use Phone Voicemail

If you look carefully at the websites of successful hosts, you’ll notice that a lot of them provide phone numbers, which their listeners can use to dial in. And, similar to SpeakPipe, setting up a voicemail number using Google Voice, BroadVoice, or Kall8 will let you receive listeners’ recorded messages, which you can then use in your show episodes.

3. Use Traditional Feedback Channels

Your objective should be to maximize the number of ways listeners can get hold of you. To that end, you can use website comments, website contact forms, your social media pages, and, if you manage one, an online community forum.

Once you get things handled on the technical side, there are a number of things that you can do to improve the quality of the feedback that you receive:

  • Ask for feedback on specific aspects of our show. A good way to solicit feedback is to clarify what it is that you’d like your listeners to comment on. For example, you could ask – “what do you think about our sound quality?” or “I’d love to hear your comments on our show length/introduction/content!”
  • Encourage your listeners to contact you. Many hosts prefer to include a call-to-action at the end of their broadcasts. This is certainly a good approach, but note that tend to predispose yourself to good feedback by reaching your most loyal listeners (who make it until the end of your episode). Also, make sure that your listeners understand that it’s okay to leave honest feedback (a lot of people feel nervous about sounding aggressive or confrontational, so try to ease their anxiety about writing or calling in).
  • Make it incredibly easy. Show your listeners how they can leave feedback. Make your website easy to navigate and your email address, phone number, or SpeakPipe window easy to find.

Managing Negative Feedback

Dealing with negative feedback is a relatively frequent, albeit unpleasant, occurrence in the day-to-day work of many creative individuals. Here’s how to mange this form of feedback constructively and improve your show in the process:

1. Put it into perspective: researchers have found that negative emotions are much easier to remember. And as James Clear writes, studies have shown that “it takes about five positive events to make up for one negative event.”

2. Separate the trolls from those who provide constructive critical feedback. No matter what you do in life, personally or professionally, chances are that you’re going to run into trolls or haters, especially online. And there’s only one way to deal with those kinds of people – to not let them derail you from the path to success. In short, simply ignore them. It’s also not worth your time to worry about how your loyal listeners might be react to overly negative non-constructive reviews. Most people see this kind of “feedback” for what it really is – unobjective criticism.

3. Go the extra mile: when you feel that someone has sent in a truly useful critical comment, go ahead and contact that person. Thank them for reaching out to you and ask for a clarification if you’d like them to elaborate on something they said or mentioned in their message. At the same time, continually challenge yourself and really consider whether there is merit in a negative comment, especially if it concerns a feature of your show that you’ve been working hard to improve.

Final Thoughts

Soliciting and incorporating listener feedback is a crucial component of a healthy and thriving show or podcast. However, remember that whatever you do, someone will judge you for it. With that in mind, it’s important that you learn to view and accept all kinds of feedback and use it as fuel for future growth and improvement. Finally, whenever you feel down, refer to this quote by Elbert Hubbard, American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher, who said that “to avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.


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