Every good podcast host knows that there’s always an opportunity to improve her hosting skills.
Improving your podcast hosting skills honestly has a lot to do with becoming more comfortable performing interviews and leading the conversation as a podcast host. Feeling comfortable at the mic just comes with time and experience!
That being said, there’s still a lot that you can do RIGHT NOW to uplevel your podcast hosting skills.
Learning how to be a good podcast host will do both of these things:
- Create a better experience for your guests
- Make your podcast more engaging for listeners
So what, exactly, are we waiting for? Let’s dive into these 12 quick tips on how to be an amazing podcast host.
1. Briefly thank the listener for listening
It’s super simple – thank your listeners for tuning in. You don’t need to go on a long rant about it, but adding in a quick thank-you goes a long way. Try something like this:
“I’m so flattered you’re spending a little piece of your day with me today – thank you.”
“It means a lot that you’re taking the time to tune in today, so thank you.”
“I know you’re super busy, so thanks for tuning in today!”
A simple, personable acknowledgment that they’re taking the time out of their day to listen to what you have to say makes you seem so much more down to earth. Your listeners will appreciate that!
2. Become a better podcast host by listening to your past episodes and learning from them
There’s almost nothing like learning from experience! To be a good podcast host, you’ll want to listen to your old episodes over and over.
Listening in like you’re an audience member will allow you to experience your podcast from the other side. And it’s so important. If you’re cringing at the thought of listening to your own podcast, I completely get it… but you have to get over it!
This is how honestly how you can become a truly great podcast host.
Ask yourself a few questions while you listen to each episode:
- Do I sound confident?
- Am I asking the guest relevant questions?
- Am I staying on-topic?
- Is the audio quality up to par?
- How could I improve the experience for listeners?
Go with your gut feeling here – you’re probably right! When you’re finished reviewing yourself, get a friend or family member to listen to a few episodes and provide feedback. They might hear something that you completely didn’t notice!
3.) Do your required homework as a podcast host
Research. Your. Guest.
Failing to become familiar with your podcast guests is such an epic failure on your end. When you forget to research the guest, the conversation usually ends up losing its focus because the two of you aren’t on the same page.
The more clarity and focus you can bring to your podcast episodes, the better. Before any guest comes on your show, you need to know who they are and what they do – at a bare minimum.
4. Find podcast guests that make sense for your audience
The best way to bore your audience and lose listeners is to bring on podcast guests that they don’t resonate with.
It’s super-flattering when another person is willing to come on your podcast. I completely understand that feeling!
But you need to be picky with who you bring on. Every single guest needs to be relevant and create value for your audience. Otherwise, you’re just asking people to hit that “unsubscribe” button!
5. Be you and don’t act too formal
The internet is a weird place. It’s super-casual, but in some places, we feel the need to act strangely formal. Think back to the first time you ever wrote an “About” page on your website. Was your copy a little bit… stiff? Same here, girlfriend.
Don’t speak formally on your podcast and avoid jargon unless it is commonly understood within your podcast’s audience. The more conversational you are in your podcast, the more most of your audience will appreciate your podcast hosting abilities.
Also, it’s always annoyingly obvious when someone is being fake or putting on some kind of front for their audience. Don’t be that girl. Just be you – show up authentically as possible. Your listeners want to be able to relate to you and get to know you, not some formal and boring professional person.
You can be professional and personable! You can be professional and exciting to listen to.
6. Focus on the convo and avoid getting off-track
A good podcast manager or editor will be able to edit out your ramblings with a few clicks of a mouse, yes. Still, you should stay as on-topic as possible during your podcast episodes.
As a host, it’s your job to lead the conversation in a direction that will serve your audience. You want to pack in the most value you possibly can to each and every podcast episode.
If you frequently veer off and start telling stories that have little to do with what your podcast is supposed to be about, a large number of your listeners will get annoyed and stop listening.
Don’t get too off-topic. If you love to tell personal stories or you have other topics you want to talk about, some great places to share those things are by blogging about them or posting about them on Instagram.
7. Don’t overwhelm your audience with info
Avoid information overload by keeping it relatively simple. If your listeners feel confused or overwhelmed during your podcast episode, they will probably find another podcast to listen to instead.
Tons of podcasts are educational (My favorite podcasts are all educational, actually!) but even if you’re teaching to your audience, keep it as simple as you can.
- Break up the facts with stories and anecdotes – as long as they relate strongly to the topic.
- Keep it pretty basic. If you want to elaborate, your blog is a great place to do that!
Storytelling is powerful stuff. Listeners are more likely to remember lessons learned from a captivating story than they will if you just spout off facts and stats at them.
8. Be passionate about your chosen topics
When I listen to your podcast, I want to hear enthusiasm and expertise! It should be clear that you love talking about this stuff – whatever “this stuff” happens to be.
Your listeners can probably find another podcast or two about a similar topic. So show up excited! Show up and make it obvious that you love sharing, teaching, or telling about your podcast topic.
Enthusiasm is infectious!
9. Good podcast hosts know who they’re talking to
An amazing podcast host knows her audience like the back of her hand.
In any business model, you need to know who your audience is. If you don’t understand who your podcast audience is and what they want or expect from you, it’s going to be difficult to become a better podcast host.
You need to know what your audience’s skill level is in what it is you talk about on air. You need to know their frustrations, struggles, likes, and dislikes.
What other podcasts do they listen to? Do they want long stories or quick tips? Do they enjoy goofy comedy or do they roll their eyes at dad jokes? Are they spiritual or will they click the “X” button at the first mention of anything “woo woo”?
You need to get into your audience’s head if you haven’t already. Try conducting market research in Facebook groups in your niche. Get on calls with people who listen to your podcast. Get on calls with people who you think would benefit from or enjoy your podcast.
Ask them questions about what they like and dislike about your podcast, about what they’d like you to do a show about, and who they’d like to hear on the show. This is so crucial to the success of your podcast AND to your podcast hosting skills.
10. Help your guests feel ultra-prepared for their episode
Helping your guests feel more comfortable will make the recording experience so much more enjoyable for both of you. It’ll also make your guest sound a lot less awkward during their interview!
You want each of your podcast interviews to be a smooth, authentic conversation. It’s hard for that to happen if your guest feels anxious or doesn’t know what to expect. Help your podcast guests out by helping them feel more prepared for their spotlight. Here are a few ideas for how to do that!
- Send over a list of questions beforehand so that they don’t feel as on-the-spot during the interview
- Get on a call with them before starting the episode to get to know them a little better and to allow them to become more comfortable with you
- On the day of the episode, ease into the conversation by talking a little bit before you start recording
- When you do go live, don’t switch up on them. Keep the same energy and tempo as you had when you were talking to them before pressing “record”.
11. Be consistent
Just like anything else, (Blogging, making YouTube videos, posting on Instagram) a podcast will thrive when the host is posting consistently.
Your audience wants to know what to expect. If they love your show, they’ll want to make time for it. Allow them to! They can only do that when they know when you’ll be releasing an episode.
It’s easier than ever to listen to a podcast episode whenever, so you might not think this matters too much, but consistency is key to pretty much anything. Especially when that thing is trying to build an audience.
Whether you post twice a week or once a month, hold yourself to that and keep yourself on schedule. If you’ll be taking a break, let your audience know well in advance so that they don’t think you fell off the planet when you go on vacay.
12. Talk to your audience like you’re talking to a friend (And talk in present tense)
This kinda goes along the same lines as being authentic and avoiding too much jargon, but an easy way to keep your audience engaged is to speak to them like they’re a friend who is sitting across the room.
You can actually make them feel like they’re there, right across the room from you, by talking in present-tense instead of past-tense.
Yeah… total podcast host hack! Some of my favorite podcasts do this so well – Jenna Kutcher from The Goal Digger Podcast comes to mind.
Ex.) Talk about how excited you are for this interview instead of how great the interview was. Doing this creates a much more intimate experience for the listener and makes it seem less like you’re talking to a large audience of people. You can start to build a stronger connection with your audience this way.
How to be a good podcast host: Final thoughts and action steps
Alright girl, well these are for sure my top tips on how to be a great podcast host. Get out there and uplevel your skills! Maybe start with something easy, like listening to a few of your episodes and taking notes. From there, you can dive into some Facebook groups for market research – you’ll get tons of helpful opinions and comments as long as you select groups that align with your podcast topic; maybe even some new fans!