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Tips for handling criticism as a podcaster

Nobody is a stranger to criticism. At some point in our life, we’ve all encountered a parent, teacher, business partner, co-worker, boss, spouse, or a stranger that felt compelled to share a tidbit of what they think we could be doing better, especially when it comes to our podcast. We can handle constructive criticism from those we know and respect because we feel they have our best interest at heart. It doesn’t mean we like it, but if it’s valuable feedback and we’re smart, we’ll internalize and build a better outcome from their suggestions.

But wouldn’t you know, it’s those comments from strangers on your podcast that will eat away at you. It’s remarkable how one random armchair critic or keyboard warrior can tear your confidence down. Even if nine out of 10 comments are positive, that one negative comment will ruin your day and even make you question if you should keep making your show. 

Don’t throw in the towel just yet! We have some tips for handling constructive and negative criticism you may face as a podcaster.

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn–and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” — Dale Carnegie

Let’s establish the fact that no matter what you do, someone somewhere will be dissatisfied. You can’t please everyone; it’s a fact of life. When you agree to share your creativity with the world via your podcast, you open yourself up to other people’s opinions from all angles: they pop up in your social media, reviews, your website, and your inbox. Because your podcast is an extension of you, what others have to say about your podcast (good or bad) feels very personal. 

How you respond to the criticism will largely shape the experience for both yourself and the person offering the feedback. When you come across comments, suggestions, or feedback that feels like criticism, you will need to determine if it is constructive or negative.

Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism is a good thing; it helps push you to make you and your podcast better. If you have feedback coming in, you know people are listening to your podcast, they genuinely care about your show, and they’re giving you their honest opinions on how you can make it better for them. You’re making your show for your listeners, so why not listen to constructive criticism that will only make the show better for their benefit? If you truly listen, you may discover new points of view or counterpoints you may not have come up with on your own to make improvements.

We are talking about the public at large, so keep in mind that not everyone will be delicate or tactful with their feedback. Try to see the underlying intent of the message and determine if there is value or merit to what an audience member trying to convey. If there is indeed something useful, take a moment to think about it (avoid a knee-jerk reaction). Sit on it if you need to, and when you’re ready, thank your listener for their input and their time. You can ask questions for further clarification and let them know that you have taken what they’ve suggested into consideration. Keep it classy and professional – you may even turn a harsh critic into a raving fan if you handle the situation the right way.

Negative Criticism

Haters and trolls will do what they do best: knock your voice, tell you that you have a face made for the radio, mock your intelligence, and ultimately be a waste of space in your day. Let those go. You’re never going to win them over, and they’ve already made up their mind to tear you down.

They don’t have talent, drive, creativity, or confidence like you do to share what you love. It takes gumption to create content that engages your real fans and takes time and energy to produce a podcast to share with the world. What’s their contribution? They have nothing better to do, and quite frankly, they can go and kick rocks!

The best way to deal with negative criticism is to ignore it and get on with your life. Keep on doing you, and your real listeners will be keeping on right beside you.

We get it, not everybody has a thick skin and can let the haters roll off so easily. If you’re in that camp, there are a few measures you can put in place to try and limit the amount of negativity:

  • If you have an online community, group, or forum, you can draft guidelines about what is and what is not acceptable, and remove or block anyone who is inappropriate or breaks the rules.
  • Close the comments on your website, blog posts, or YouTube. Or stay on top of the comments coming in and remove spam or block on social media without reading them. 
  • Kill with kindness. If someone has something ugly to say about one of your podcasts, don’t stoop to their level. Reply with a simple, “Thanks for the feedback – I hope you enjoy the next episode better.”

Having a podcast will always attract attention, both good and bad. If you’re behind the mic doing what you love best, remember that your audience is listening to you, and you’re having an impact on them. Not the other way around. You have the power to choose whether or not to respond, and if you do respond, you have the ability to do it with professionalism. 

“Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.” — Zig Ziglar

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