So you’ve recorded your first podcast episode. Now what? If you’re intent on building a listener base, just throwing it onto Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and Spotify probably isn’t going to get you very far. In 2019, everyone under the age of 60 (and a bunch of adventurous folks over 60, too) has a podcast. Is it even possible to stand out from the crowd? And how do you know your show is doing all of the things you want it to?

One great way to gently ease your nascent podcast out of its cocoon–and probably pick up a few loyal fans in the process–is to host an in-person listening party with those you trust to give sharp, honest advice. Sounds fun already, doesn’t it? Check out some of our ideas to make it both productive and memorable:

Supply Food and Drink

Order some delivery from your favorite pizza place and make sure there’s enough beer, wine, and soda to go around. We’re far removed from the heyday of radio when families would sit around the wireless listening to their favorite programs. That means your friends and family might feel a bit awkward sitting around and listening to audio. Fortunately, the food and drinks will ease the atmosphere and give them something to do with their hands other than gesture in amazement at how great your podcast is.

Encourage Note-Taking

While it might be a little gauche to force the attendees of your listening party to take notes, you should make any and all note-taking as convenient as possible. It’s important to get feedback on your podcast before you release it to the world. Listeners at your party may recommend edits to your existing episode or offer pointers that you can take into account for future recording sessions. To make the most of this opportunity for advice, have pens and paper available for those who want them!

Make Anonymity an Option

If you or your guests don’t feel comfortable with a post-show feedback session, set up a method for anonymous delivery of critiques. You could send an e-mail to your guests after they’ve gone home, encouraging them to submit feedback via an anonymous form. Many people find it difficult to tell artists the honest truth about their art in a face-to-face setting, even if they have positive things to say. Give your audience some time to mull over their thoughts and then let them contact you online.

Hold a Q&A Session

A Q&A session might be better suited for a more established podcast’s live event, but it’s also a great way for beginners to shed light on their vision and creative process for their audience. A frank discussion about your podcast led by your audience can equip them with the tools they need to spread the good news of your podcast to their friends and social network.

For you, a Q&A is a chance to crystallize your goals for the podcast and get used to articulating them to others. Answering unrehearsed questions in front of a crowd can send the butterflies aflutter in your stomach, but it’s a great opportunity to practice the same public-speaking skills that are crucial to your podcast. It'll also let you know what, if anything, is confusing to your listeners.

Prepare Souvenirs for Your Guests

As a token of appreciation to your guests, who took valuable out of their days to listen to and critique your podcast, have something nice for them to take home in remembrance of the occasion. Consider ordering some custom t-shirts or mugs with your podcast’s logo as affordable, fun souvenirs. If your podcast is too young to have settled on a fancy logo and defined aesthetic, consider sending them out later on as a thank-you gift to the friends who helped you get your podcast off the ground.

Launching a new podcast is hard work, and making your voice heard in a vast sea of competition isn’t easy. By hosting a listening party, you can give yourself a boost. It exposes a small audience to your show in a much more memorable and intimate way than a boring Facebook post. It also gives you a chance to connect with an audience, solicit feedback, and use that advice to improve your show. Why not put it on your schedule right now? Reach out to us for more information.