Think of the last game show you watched. Was it “The Price is Right”? “Wheel of Fortune”?
A lot goes into these shows – big flashy lights, excited contestants and (of course) the big prizes. But as viewers, we’re captured by the hosts. Alex Trebek, Steve Harvey and Regis Philbin, with their slick suits and booming voices, keep us tuning in episode after episode.
Similarly, when it comes to launching a successful podcast, an engaging host is crucial. They’re the guide along your audience’s journey – the voice delivering and organizing all the information you’re sharing.
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Some people are natural entertainers, while others have to spend a little more time honing their skills to really launch their podcast. Whichever group you fall into, these seven tips can help you improve your interviews, speak more eloquently and become a better podcast host overall.
There are several tips and tricks you can employ before and during podcast recordings to improve your hosting skills – let’s dive in.
A great podcast host knows that preparation is key.
It’s always a good idea to do some research on your upcoming guest(s) and learn a little about their background. You know that Susan has spent 25 years as an accountant, but did you know she worked as a scuba instructor in Dubai prior? Or that she won an award for software innovation in 2000? Something as simple as a LinkedIn search can unveil great talking points for your episodes.
Consider writing a loose outline of topics to discuss for your upcoming episodes. Begin with some background questions for your guest. Then, if possible, choose a theme to center your questions around.
You don’t have to script out the entire interview, but a rough outline can help ensure the conversation flows and you avoid any awkward pauses.
As our Director of Digital Media Brodrick Lothringer says, “You have to think about the story of the episode before you sit down for the interview, or else you’ll wind up with an episode about nothing and everything all at once.”
Related: 8 Steps to Launching a Podcast Your Ideal Prospects Can’t Ignore
Oftentimes, podcast guests are people you know or interact with regularly, so you already have a baseline of knowledge about them. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your audience members – what do they already know? What questions would they want to ask?
If you’re unsure, consider putting a post on your social media account teasing your upcoming guest, with a call for audience members to submit all their burning questions ahead of time.
In addition, ask your guest what kind of questions they get from people to help give you an idea of things your audience might also be wondering.
It’s every podcast host’s nightmare: You finish up a top-notch interview just to find that you never hit the “record” button. All your hard work is lost – and your guest is ready to head out the door.
There’s an easy way to avoid this simple (but catastrophic) mistake: Work it into your process to check your recording systems at least twice. Set reminders on your phone, leave a sticky note by your computer – whatever works to make sure you don’t end up with nothing recorded.
The art of podcast hosting is a delicate balance. You bring your guest on to share their story and expertise, but you also need to be present as the host of the show in each episode. It will take practice to learn how to steer the conversation without dominating it, especially since each guest will have a different approach to the recording session.
For example, you may have a guest giving simple, one-sentence answers – before you know it, you’ve run out of questions to ask. On the other hand, you could have Brad FakeName who won’t let you get a word in edgewise and takes the topic in directions you don’t want it to go.
Let the conversation flow organically, but don’t forget to steer it back to the topic at hand when needed.
You can have the best content in the world, but it’s not worth very much if your audience can’t understand you. Many people speed up the pace of their sentences when they’re nervous, or start to stutter over their words.
Research shows that U.S. speakers are most comfortable with a speaking rate of about 100-150 words per minute (WPM) during presentations, and 120-150 WPM conversationally. On the other hand, 160+ WPM is considered fast.
Now, you don’t have to start counting out your words, but if you’re really struggling, there are tools out there to help you hone your skills. For example, VirtualSpeech provides guided speaking exercises based on your unique goals.
Record yourself speaking for a few minutes. Better yet, conduct a mock interview with a friend or family member – then play it back and grade yourself. Are you speaking clearly? How’s your pacing?
Have a trusted friend or colleague listen to your voice and give feedback as well – it can only help!
If conversation really gets flowing, it’s easy to forget that your listeners might not have the technical knowledge that you do. If you find yourself using acronyms and phrases like “Roth conversions,” be sure to pause and give a definition for your listener.
If you can, leave the jargon out of the conversation entirely. If you confuse listeners, you lose listeners.
One thing you can’t manufacture is passion. Your listeners are smart, and they’ll match your energy. If you’re passionate and authentic in your interviews, that will show in your voice.
Likewise, your guests will have more to say about the passions they love – it’s great to have an outline of questions, but don’t be afraid to spend a little extra time on the subjects that matter to them.
Hosting a podcast is a great way to deepen your relationships with other industry experts, so you want to ensure they have a positive experience with your podcast recording.
Consider sending your guests a list of questions ahead of time so they feel prepared and know what to expect. Also be sure to send a thank you card or some form of appreciation afterward!
And that’s it – you’re already an expert podcast host. Follow these seven steps and you’ll be on the path to producing your best podcast episodes yet – and let us know if you need some help!
Did you know that Three Crowns provides comprehensive podcast production, including one-on-one coaching for hosts. Let’s chat about your podcasting goals and get started today.