Improve Your Podcast Host Skills

Becoming a better podcast host requires intentional effort, particularly in improving interviewing skills.

A podcaster is unique because your podcast features everyone but you. As podcaster, you are responsible for simply creating engaging Podcast Interviews with experts. Therefore, some improvements to interviewing / hosting skills are in order. Where do you start?

Perhaps you have years of experience and have implemented everything you know and, therefore, are in need of fresh ideas to become a better podcast host. Perhaps you have only been at it for a couple of months and want to do everything you can to make your podcast succeed. Whatever your situation, these five interview tips, if practiced, will improve your quality as a host.

Need to know now? Ok then, Here are our five tips in a nutshell:

  • Start each podcast with light discussion
  • DON’T check your personality at the door
  • Do your research
  • Produce YOUR podcast and NOT your audience’s podcast
  • Prepare questions, but be flexible

1. Start Each Podcast with Light Discussion

Podcast Interviews are difficult enough. You must create an engaging discussion for at an average of 45 minutes. Start off on the right foot. Begin with light conversation before diving deep into the subject of the interview. This will be simple if you know your guest beyond the primary topic.

For instance, if you are interviewing a political commentator, then you are likely to discuss a political subject. However, does he or she have an active interest in knitting? Perhaps you discuss their latest knitting project before diving into the topic of the podcast. This will warm your guest up to you as an interviewer, particularly if your topic is a divisive issue.

Michael Cazayoux hosts the Brute Strength Podcast, which covers the topic of fitness. Michael is a good example of light conversation before engaging the primary topic. All of his guests are professional athletes and coaches, people who are not typically producing podcasts or other media content. In a podcast featuring a three time Cross Fit Champion named Mat Fraser, Michael started with five minutes of light banter about how difficult it had been to get Mat Fraser on the show because of his training schedule. If you listen to the first seven minutes of the podcast, you can hear how the light conversation set Mat Fraser at ease, which set the tone for the rest of the podcast.

2. DON'T Check Your Personality At The Door

To be a better podcast host, do not be a monotone, disengaged, host. Few things are as damaging to the quality of a podcast as a monotone, emotionless host. It sets your guest on edge. It makes the podcast boring for the audience. You could interview the creator of the universe and if you are an emotionless host, your podcast will tank.

Bring your personality to the podcast. If you have dry humour, then bring your dry humour. If you are a naturally thankful and loving individual, then bring that same thankful and loving energy. Even though your job as a host is to highlight those you interview, remember your personality is the consistent ingredient in your podcast. 

A great example of this is Joe Rogan. Joe Rogan hosts a podcast called The Joe Rogan Experience, in which he brings on a wide range of personalities; anyone from political commentators and conspiracy theorists to sports legends and movie stars. Listen to any Joe Rogan podcast and you notice Joe Rogan’s personality is the consistent ingredient (for the purposes of providing evidence, check out his podcast with Wiz Khalifa). He does only about 20% of the talking, but has generated a faithful fan base because of his personality.

3. Do Your Research

Nothing irritates the audience more then a podcaster who has not researched the topic of the podcast. If your guest wrote a book, then you should read the ENTIRE book. If your guest hosts her or his own talk show, then it is important to listen to more than just one episode. 

As a podcaster, you invite experts to come and educate your audience on their field of expertise or to express their opinion. Therefore, your area of expertise needs to be the experts’ work and opinion.

A great example of this is Peter Robinson, the host of the podcast Uncommon Knowledge. Peter Robinson not only studies the experts he interviews, but he demonstrates that he had spent a significant amount of time thinking about the material they had written. He demonstrates this by pulling quotes from their book, explaining the context of the quote, and then asking an in depth question that causes the he or she to explain their theory beyond what is written in their book. A great demonstration of this is in an interview he conducted with Thomas Sowell.

4. Produce YOUR Podcast, NOT your Audiences Podcast

This advice sounds counterintuitive, but is one of the great lessons experienced podcasters learn years down the road. Do NOT produce the content you think your audience wants, but the content you want.

Though he is not a podcaster, he is a content creator. So, his advice is very applicable. Ron Carlson, arguably one of the greatest short story novelists in America, struggled to write anything that publishers wanted. Carlson said, in a moment of clarity, that he realised he struggled to produce worthwhile stories because he was always trying to write what he thought other people wanted to hear. As a result, his writing came off as derivative and stale. So, Carlson wrote stories he wanted to read. He produced content he was passionate about and the faithful fan base followed.

Sam Harris is a good example of this. Same Harris is the host of a podcast entitled Making Sense with Sam Harris. While hosting a guest named Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris deviated from the original topic of “how people derive meaning” and engaged in a lengthy discussion concerning “What is truth”. The podcast was so successful that within a month Sam Harris had Jordan Peterson back on to continue the discussion, something in which his audience expressed unanimous interest.

5. Prepare Questions, but Be Flexible

It is important to prepare for each guest. You need to know what you want to discuss, the flow of your discussion, and produce plenty of questions accordingly. However, you need to be flexible enough during the podcast to allow the discussion to evolve naturally.

 Patrick Cummings is a great example of allowing the discussion to evolve naturally. Patrick hosts a podcast entitled Chasing Excellence. He is obviously prepared for each podcast with the topic and in depth questions about the topic itself; however, he typically only asks a few questions to get the discussion started and, then, transitions to listening and asking specific questions directly related to his guests responses in real time. It creates an atmosphere that is comfortable and engaging.

 

Conclusion

Though this is not an exhaustive list of interview tips or techniques you will need to become a successful podcaster, these five basic tips, if practiced properly, will improve the quality of your podcast.

  • As you start each podcast with light discussion, you will find the quality of your interviews to improve because your guests are more comfortable.
  • If you DON’T check your personality at the door, you will add a consistent element that generates a faithful following.
  • As you do your research, the quality of your interview questions will be on par with the greats.
  • As you produce YOUR podcast and NOT your audience’s podcast, your passion will become intoxicating to those who listen.
  • As you become more flexible with your questions, you will foster more profound discussion with the experts.

We hope this blog helps you, practice these five things and improve, continue taking your podcast to the next level, and let us know what you think in the comments section bellow.


Need help with your podcast strategy? need a hand with the production or management? get in touch, the team The Podcast Boss can help you!

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