How to Be an Awesome Podcast Host
Updated: Apr 5
So, you want to be a podcast host? Awesome! Podcasting is a great way to reach out to new audiences and build connections with like-minded people. Plus, it's a lot of fun! You may feel like you need years of experience in broadcast or as a stand-up comedian in order to be a top-notch host, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Anyone can be a great podcast host with the right attitude and a little bit of practice.
Here are some tips to get you started on your journey to becoming an awesome podcast host.
1. Be Prepared
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to mention nonetheless. Before you hit that record button, take some time to gather your thoughts and plan out what you want to say. This doesn't mean you need to write out a script but having a general idea of the topics you want to cover will help keep your recording focused and on track.
Get to Know the Guest Beforehand
The secret to a successful podcast is doing your research on the guest before the day of the interview. Many times, it seems like hosts are making up their questions and segues on the spot, but that's the point - it feels natural and effortless. It takes preparation and planning in order to do this.
Search their social media handles, including their personal and business accounts. Be sure to also take a look at their website, and review branded pages, such as "About Us" and any "Services" pages, to get to know their company story, what they do and who they are. (Be sure to also ask them for a resume or bio!)
Act Like a Chess Player
If you know anything about the game of chess, then you know that a professional chess player is always thinking at least three moves in advance. The same goes for podcasting. Plan out your season as a whole rather than each individual episode. This will give you a better idea of the overall direction you want your podcast to go, and help you book dynamic guests that complement each other.
Check Your Equipment
This one is key. Do a soundcheck before you start recording to make sure everything is working properly. This includes making sure your microphone is on and recording, as well as adjusting the levels so that the audio doesn't sound choppy or staticky. If you're recording remotely, do a test call with your guest beforehand to make sure the connection is strong and there's no lag time.
Find the Perfect Location
Having the right equipment is a great start, but it can only do so much. If your location is noisy or echoes, it will be very difficult to produce high-quality audio. Whenever possible, try to record in a quiet room with soft surfaces, such as carpet or drapes, which can help absorb sound. If you're recording remotely, ask your guest to do the same.
Take into consideration things like AC units, laundry machines, kids, pets or notifications and chimes from your cell phone or electronic devices. Not only do these make noise, but they can also be distracting.
Listen to Other Podcasts
Getting to know other podcasts and their hosts is a great way to familiarize yourself with the various styles and formats out there. Pay attention to the way they structure their episodes and take note of any hosting techniques you like.
You can also learn a lot from podcasts that are in a similar vein as the one you're planning to launch. This will give you an idea of what's already out there, how yours will be different and unique, and help you find your niche.
2. Be Engaging
Podcasting is all about conversation - you want to make sure you're engaging with your guest and keeping the discussion interesting for listeners from start to finish. There are a few different ways you can do this.
Use Intros and Outros
The beginning and end of your podcast are just as important as the meat in the middle. A catchy intro will pique the listener's interest and make them want to continue listening. And a well-executed outro will leave them wanting more and eager for the next episode.
Both intros and outros should be around 30 seconds to 1 minute in length, and should include your podcast title, host name (or names), and a brief summary of what the listener can expect from the episode. You can also use that opportunity to thank your guests and sponsors (if you have any) and promote any upcoming events or projects.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
This one is pretty self-explanatory - in order to keep the conversation flowing, you need to ask questions that will elicit more than a one word answer.
Instead of yes or no questions, try asking open-ended questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." For example, instead of asking "Do you like your job?" try asking "What do you like most about your job?"
Don't Talk Over the Guest
It's important to let your guests have the floor - after all, they're the experts on the topic you invited them on to discuss. Not only will this make for a more interesting conversation, but it will also show that you're respectful and interested in what they have to say.
Be a good listener, avoid getting sidetracked from the primary points of discussion, and if your guest does go off of topic, do your best to lead them back onto the main topic.
3. Be Yourself
This may be the most important tip on this list. At the end of the day, people want to listen to a podcast that is authentic and relatable. So be yourself!
Your podcast should reflect your unique personality, and your goal should be to build a rapport with your listeners. The more they feel like they know you, the more likely they are to keep tuning in.
Avoid Coffee or Stimulants
No one knows you better than your own self. So if you know that coffee makes you jittery and extra enthusiastic, try to avoid it the morning you're going to be recording. That said, if you are feeling nervous or fidgety before hitting record, that's ok! Listeners love when hosts can laugh at themselves. Be authentic and unafraid to share your feelings and thoughts.
Dress For the Part
You may be wondering why your attire matters when no one can actually see what you're wearing. But the way you dress can actually have an effect on the way you sound.
It's not a matter of how you look so much as it is how you feel when you dress well. If you're comfortable and confident in what you're wearing, it will show in the way you speak. The overall boost in self esteem is going to radiate through your voice and tone.
So, there you have it! Yes, there is a lot of work that goes into being an awesome podcast host, but all of that preparation and forethought is worth it.
Keeping in mind the above, the most important thing you could do is just show up. With the right podcast editing team, a lot can be corrected and adjusted after the fact, even if you make some mistakes during the recording process.
Remember, while practice makes perfect, not even the most seasoned hosts are perfect. So don't put too much pressure on yourself. Have fun and happy podcasting!
Recommended Read: Why Your Business Needs a Podcast