The other day, I was listening to a podcast. The first minute or so was spent on music, sound effects, introducing the podcast, and a sponsor's message that seemed to go on forever. By the time the content started, I had opened another webpage and was already tuning out.

Then the host came on, introduced his guest, and they started talking about this and that. The podcast went on for about 43 minutes. I hardly heard a word of it.

Which got me thinking. Which is better for podcasts: short or long?

Here's my opinion:

  • Short and to the point is best for podcasts that are all about the information. Teach what you're teaching before your audience checks out.
  • If you're going to go long, you must do one of two things (or better yet, both):
    1. Pack in so much information so tightly that your audience is spellbound the whole time.
    2. Entertain.

I can only imagine one scenario where the two-people-having-a-long-conversation podcast that isn't strong in one of those areas would work for me: if I'd loaded it onto an MP3 player and was listening while doing something that takes a long time and requires next to no mental engagement, like exercise.

And even then, information density and entertainment are important, because without them, I'm likely to load up a different podcast the next time I head out for a jog.

But that's just my opinion. There are some big-name people putting out some long, rambling podcasts, and I'm sure they get plenty of listeners. Is it because they've already established their reputations? Or am I the only one who thinks they're a waste of time?