Creating a compelling podcast isn’t easy. It’s not like a blog post where all you have to do is compile your thoughts into a few paragraphs or a YouTube vlog where it’s just you speaking into the camera. Nope, podcasting is a lot tougher. Not only do you have to come up with interesting content, but you have to be entertaining and intriguing behind the mic to keep your listening audience engaged.
Did you know for the average 30-minute podcast you’re looking at roughly around 10-18 hours to produce? It’s not just flipping on a switch, talking into a mic, and calling it a day.
If you’re brand new to podcasting, chances are you’re learning most of this as you’re going along. It can all feel a bit overwhelming when you have to be the host of your show, plan content, and edit it to deliver a finished episode.
Some people get behind the mic and they’re like a fish to water. It all comes very naturally. Others need a bit of refinement and that’s OK. With a little practice and preparation, you can mold yourself into a world-class host.
Here are some tips you can start putting into practice today to help you hone in your hosting skills.
Have a conversation with your audience
One trick is to practice visualizing that your audience is in the room there with you while you’re hosting. Pretend like you’re having a conversation with a friend and that your audience is listening in on your conversation. Avoid being too formal. You don’t want to sound like you’re giving a TedTalk to a crowd. Your audience wants to friend you. Put yourself in their headspace and ask the question, “Is this interesting enough, even for me?”
Pay attention to your delivery. It might be beneficial to record some test audio to get a feel for how your approach is going to come across before you jump into the actual episode, especially if this is all brand new to you. It’s amazing when you listen to yourself back and discover all the “umms” and “uhs” that creep into the conversation. Taking some time to do a little self-evaluation will help you improve on future content and improve your hosting chops.
Remove any distractions
Remember a time when you were in a public place and you had to be quiet, then suddenly your phone goes off? (You don’t want that added sound effect on your podcast episode). Turn off your ringers, slack notifications, and other noise so you can completely focus on what you are trying to do. Nothing screams “unprofessional” when you can hear noises like the TV on, or the kids running around, or somebody doing dishes in the background. You should have a dedicated space for recording where you can close the door and have privacy and quiet.
Find the right guests
As a new podcaster you more than likely don’t have the luxury of having a producer that’s going to help you find and land guests, so you want to make sure that you’re picking the right guests. Yes, having any guest is amazing and is something to be grateful for, but it’s OK to be a little picky to stay true to your vision. Is this somebody that your audience is going to like and resonate with? Do they add value? Can you see yourself having an engaging and entertaining conversation with them? After all, you’re still building a brand.
Do your research and prepare
Have you ever had to give a presentation and you weren’t ready? Remember how that felt? You don’t want that on your podcast. Now that you’ve selected the right guest, make sure you know everything about them. You want to make sure you’ve done your due diligence before sitting down to talk with them. Being unprepared will only bring a lack of focus and clarity to the episode. Your listeners deserve better.
Check out your guest’s website, read their blog posts, follow them on social. Imagine you’re a reporter getting ready for an interview. Generate a list of questions ahead of time and write up a script or an outline that you can follow so you don’t go off track. You don’t want to read directly from a script, but you’ll want some talking points so you have something to fall back on if you lose your train of thought. This will help you keep the conversation going and help reduce the number of awkward pauses or silences.
Make your guests comfortable
You may be getting someone on your show that has never done recorded a podcast episode or you may be interviewing a seasoned pro. Whoever it is, you want to give that same level of professionalism and detail to everybody. That means setting the right expectations and making sure they’re comfortable before you even begin.
Send your questions ahead of time to them so they have a chance to review and prepare. If this is their first time recording on a podcast episode, let them know what they can expect, like the distance they need to sit from the mic so you get the right levels. If they’re a remote guest, make sure they’re in a quiet spot with no distractions and that they silence their phone and notifications so there are no interruptions.
Have an icebreaker to start the conversation. Ask them to share a personal story or joke to get into a conversational mood so the dialogue will be free-flowing and comfortable for both of you.
Be a storyteller
Nothing is more memorable and impactful to your audience than when you can share a great story. A good podcast host is also a great storyteller. They use personal experiences to create relatable content that helps them connect with their audience on a whole new level. Got a long history with your guest? Start out the episode by talking about a memory with the two of you that can tie into your topic.
Make sure you also avoid information overload. Don’t overwhelm your audience with facts and figures. They are more likely to get bored or tune out if you’re not giving them something they can relate to. Think about some of the best podcasts you’ve ever listened to? Was it because of a memorable story? Stories are one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal to create lasting impressions and emotional connections with your audience. Make sure you use them often.
Just be yourself
People can spot a phony a mile away. They don’t want an act. They want genuine emotion, passion, humor, and honesty from their host. That’s one of the coolest parts about what you’re doing! You have an opportunity to let yourself shine through your podcast. Don’t get bogged down in semantics and over-analyzing your performance. People are tuning in because they feel like you have something to say. Make sure you super-serving them well by being authentic, prepared, and helpful.
Remember your why
Above all, always remember why you wanted to start a podcast in the first place. What was it that prompted you to feel the need to get behind the mic and share your thoughts with the world? Remember your mission statement. Keep it in the back of your mind as you continue to plan your content, book your guests, and improve your performance. This is not a skill that happens overnight.
What would it be like if a couple of months from now you can go back and listen to your old episodes and see drastic improvements? Continue to keep pushing yourself to be better and your audience will thank you for it.