How to Be an Exceptional Podcast Host
Being a podcast host can be a real struggle and you’ll most certainly meet numerous hurdles along the way. It’s imperative to constantly improve your skill as a host in order to get better and make your show more engaging.
So how can you become an exceptional podcast host?
I’ve come up with a Golden List that is ridiculously easy for you to put into practice. Remember, these are skills that can be honed – it just takes some time and a little elbow grease!
Always Do Your Research
Landed a podcast guest? Great! Here’s the thing, though: the podcast interview shouldn't be your first exposure to your guest. As the podcast host, take time to do your research before the show starts. Dig into your guest's online persona. Scroll through their social media, and Google him or her to get a feel of what they want the world to know about them.
You can absolutely have your VA or someone else on your team come up with a quick summary of the guest for you. However, it's best to do a little more of your own research too. You might find more interesting facts about your podcast guest.
Your job as the podcast host is to make your podcast guest look good in front of your audience, and it helps knowing about them to get the ball rolling. Doing your research also allows you to pick up on topics and points that they typically want to hit during interviews. It's a great way to decide what you want to hit on, and what you want to miss or gloss over.
Think Beyond The Surface
When someone is considered a popular influencer, they're most likely being interviewed A LOT. These people fall into the habit of giving the same answers or stories in interviews
You may not know it, but they might often get bored of being asked the same questions. Your job as the podcast host is to investigate a little and find the thing that really excites them. Take note of which questions they are consistently asked and avoid them. Find your own angle and craft questions prompting them to provide unique answers.
Set Recording Times In Advance
Podcasting can be overwhelming if you don't put a system in place. A podcast schedule is needed to keep track of what tasks are done, what's next, and when it's all due. Keeping recording times will save you from missing deadlines and falling out of rhythm.
If you only hit record on an interview when the mood strikes you, there will be inconsistency in your podcast episode release schedule. It’s not only going to hurt your podcast data, but you also might lose motivation to work on the show.
When landing a podcast guest, it’s a fact that not everyone's schedule is predictable. Sometimes it can take a lot of emails back and forth just to book the interview. This can be frustrating not only to you, but to your potential podcast guest, too. This could create a bad impression, or worst case scenario, they'd change their mind about being a guest on your podcast. You’d find yourself back to square one.
Podcast hosts need to be organized! My recommendation is to use Calendar Assistant tools. I personally use the Acuity scheduling tool – easily its best quality is how simple it is to navigate. You can go right in without prior knowledge of CRM (Content Management System) or CS (Customer Success), and you'll pick this up quickly. I found a convenient way to organize my time, communicate with my potential podcast guests, and keep track of my scheduled meetings.
Using these kinds of tools will show your availability with ease to your potential guest – no more email ping pong.
Your goal is to make it ridiculously easy to spend time with you. The fewer the steps they go through the podcast guest onboarding process, the better.
Set Up For Success
Here's what I have learned as a podcast host: testing my tools and equipment, as well as the podcast guest’s's tools and equipment, before the recording can create an infinitely better podcast guest experience. This is especially important if you're interviewing podcast guests who aren't tech-savvy. Inform them of any technical issues as early as possible and get that taken care of. If needed, ask your guest to reschedule with you if the technical issues are pervasive. Remember, only so much can be fixed in post-production, so quality audio recording is key.
Yes, your podcast editing team will do their job in making sure that the audio is clear and crisp. But having good sound starts with a good setup.
Here’s a checklist that I personally go through before recording:
- Video quality
- Background/virtual background check
Have A Conversation, Not Interrogation
One common mistake podcasters make when interviewing guests is sitting with a checklist of questions and responding with, “Oh my gosh! That's great! My next question is….”
Drawing up a podcast guest outline is a great way to prepare. But you shouldn't treat it like a podcast host’s dogma. It's important to keep a level of openness and flexibility throughout the podcast interview. If all you do is read off rehearsed questions, the conversation would feel disjointed and artificial.
When exciting points are raised, follow up, dig deeper, and try to get more information. Respond to your podcast guest with unique and genuine questions.
Story-Telling Always Wins
Podcast interviews don't have to be serious for it to be valuable.
Telling a funny story or a funny example to illustrate a point can be as effective — maybe even more so. It's because stories stick better with people. It'll be more unforgettable if you explain things simply. A good podcast host should understand story outline, focus statements, point of view, choice points, drama, and stakes.
So here's where you have to be creative. Putting your unique spin on it will give your podcast more visibility and can help your guest be noteworthy to your audience. If your listeners can picture it in their head and play it like a movie – all the better! Be a host that thinks in stories.
Let Your Podcast Guest Talk
If you invited a podcast guest, it can sound rude and is usually very irritating for your listeners when you interrupt your guest while they speak. There can certainly be times when you must interrupt your podcast guest to steer them back to the meat of the conversation, but these instances are ONLY exceptions. As the podcast host, your role is to make your podcast guest the show's star.
If your podcast guest is in the middle of getting a point across and you want to dig deeper, write it down in a pad and wait for your chance to bring it up. I know it can be tempting to express your agreement with “agreed” or an “uh huh”. This can mess up your recording flow and might cause your guest to miss out on expressing a key point
That said, active listening and participating in topics the podcast guest brings up will make them feel valued. Be jazzed up to talk with them and share their enthusiasm. This will definitely ensure a more natural flow of conversation and provide your podcast guest a good experience.
Do Post-Podcast Interview Follow-Ups
A big podcast host no-no: ending the connection after the podcast interview.
Podcast interviews are not only great because of the value they add to your audience or even your guests. They are opportunities for you to build relationships with other authorities in your niche or connect with other podcast hosts.
You can't rush relationships. However, you can take certain measures to facilitate the relationship. And these opportunities will turn into nothing if you (and your team) don't practice post-podcast interview follow-ups. Ending the connection after the podcast interview can be a good relationship lost in the future. Believe me, this is a major relationship loss if you don't dedicate yourself to getting this right
Here are the ways we connect with our podcast guests (and we do this a lot):
- Send a ‘Thank You’ email. Thanking your guest for the time and expertise they have provided to your audience is always a good practice. This is a great chance to allow them to review the episode, make any changes they want, and continuously build a connection with them.
Here's a thank you email I personally send out to my guests after recording an episode:
Thank you for the great podcast interview! That will go live in 6-8 weeks and my production team will keep you updated and supply links, assets, etc…! I hope it leads to some good intros/opportunities.
Here is a copy of our interview to download within 7 days & get to your team. You are welcome to repurpose our interview in any way you like as it helps you.
I recorded a quick personal video for you:
*INSERT PERSONALIZED BOMBBOMB/GREETING VIDEO HERE*
I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation and seeing how we might be able to partner together.
- Podcast episode scheduled? Send shareable podcast episode links, trailer videos, or trailer images. Bonus: add captions, too, so they can easily share the podcast interview accessibly across platforms.
Remember that these things have to be personal. This will go a long way to starting the relationship in good faith.
To be an exceptional podcast host is a never-ending journey of growth. You should always strive to hone your skills, whether working on your own podcast or listening to other podcasts created by others. And the best part about skills is that they can be learned, polished, and improved upon with practice.
So, make a list of what you do well and remind yourself of everything that sets you apart from everyone else. After that, commit the significant time and effort to polish your abilities and transform yourself into the best possible podcast host you can be!
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