Podcasts are a dime a dozen these days, but only the few, the proud, the very good survive. Why? Star power and high production quality don’t hurt, but we’d like to argue that a podcast’s success hinges on the host’s ability to…host. It’s about more than sitting behind a mic and hitting “record.” A good host is in control and drives the conversation from beginning to end.
Here’s how we suggest you do it:
#1 — Prepare your guest
Not every episode will include a guest interview, but a few might. If you’re preparing to interview someone, make sure you manage their expectations. Send questions ahead of time, but also ask if there’s a topic they’d like to discuss. Finding and highlighting their enthusiasm makes for a more compelling conversation. Make sure you’ve read through their bio in advance, and don’t be afraid to ask for a punchier version – you will lose a listener (or 3) over a long bio. And finally, end the conversation with a shout out to their social media accounts and website.
#2 — Transition seamlessly
The most awkward moments usually involve a transition, so it’s important you practice. Know how you plan to welcome the audience, introduce yourself/co-host/guests, segue between segments, and sign off. Your goal is to immediately capture the audience’s attention, which you risk losing via a sloppy or awkward transition. If you feel awkward, the audience probably feels awkward, and they will stop listening.
#3 — Have a conversation
Though you already know what you plan to ask (because you took our advice and sent questions in advance, right??), your conversation with the guest is more than a Q&A session. The questions should serve as your guide, but also play off what the guest says. If they bring up an interesting point, ask a follow-up question or acknowledge their answer and block and bridge to a new question. If you mindlessly ask questions and fail to make connections between answers, the episode will sound rehearsed. Remember: the audience wants to listen in on a conversation between you and your guest, so the goal is to make them believe that’s what’s happening.
Understanding how to host is only one part of podcasting. Thankfully, the Leadership Institute is organizing its Conservative Podcasting School on October 15-16 to teach you EVERYTHING there is to know about how to start a podcast. We highly recommend you register to attend.