How to Know If You Talk Too Much

Think of your airtime on a radio show or podcast as you would dollars in your 401k; Invest more in your high return-on-investment content, and divest what does not pay you back as much.

High-performing shows not only plan content, they also discuss how long they are going to take to execute each segment. There is a correlation between airtime and the strength of the content.

Here are some ideas on determining how much airtime a topic is worth to your audience.

When to cut content shorter:

Information. Cut data, dates, times, locations, and survey results to the bare minimum. Seconds, not minutes. Statistics are not entertainment.
Opinion. Unless you happen to be the world’s leading expert on the topic, limit “here’s what I think” to two sentences.
If there is an app for that. Typical weather and traffic can be delivered in seconds – and those listeners who want detail are getting it on their device. Sports scores, box office rankings and stock prices can be cut completely unless important breaking news.

When content can go longer:

Stories. Listeners love action, extreme behavior and quirky, flawed characters. Great storytelling is what drives audiences to films, TV series, books, podcasts and radio.
Great audio. If a picture is worth a thousand words, audio is worth a million.
Drama and emotion. What’s at stake? Is it a disagreement over a parking space, a relationship-ending conflict or a battle for the future of the free world? More drama = more airtime.
If it is funny. Keep going as long as the laughs hold out. Laughter is never boring.
Your star power. If you are a familiar voice after years in the market, your audience is more likely to stick with you through longer segments. Management might consider giving more leeway to shows with ratings that consistently outperform their station.

Of course, once you are into a segment be willing to throw out your plan and allow for great moments of spontaneity. Just be mindful that today’s audiences have a shorter attention span than a goldfish and follow the old show business rule of “keep them wanting more.”