Successful podcasting is all about creating your own unique identity among a sea of wannabes. When it comes to niches and formats, there is a huge variety. To appeal to listeners, podcasters have experimented with many different formats. A top podcasting format involves bringing new guests on a show to share their expertise or experience. This article, with crucial tips for podcast hosts, will allow you to elevate your interviewing skills!
While some decide to run a podcast without guests, having guests come over to your show, can enrich it in many ways.
First of all, they add novelty to the show- there will be a new voice alongside yours, with something new to share. Then, another person’s story or knowledge would add credibility to your content. But having guests on your show and bringing out the best from them is a big challenge.
While it is easy to translate your own perspective and ideas into an interesting podcast show, getting the results that you have envisioned from a guest is an altogether different process.
If your podcast format involves bringing new guests in each show or bringing in guests just for a couple of shows, make the most of it by following these tips for podcast hosts.
1. Select the right guests for your show
Are you planning to bring guests for every show, or is it only for some of the episodes? And why exactly you want to bring them in? Start by asking yourself these two questions to figure out who the right people are to come as guests.
Is your show aimed at people of a specific profession?
Then highly experienced professionals and educators from that industry can be your ideal guests. Are you trying to promote a new philosophy or a way of living (let’s say, veganism)? Then look around for folks who can convince your listeners about the benefits of the new lifestyle.
Don’t fall for newbie influencers or bloggers, go for people with real credentials or experience – someone who has thoughts worth sharing with your listeners. This is one of the most important tips for podcast hosts, especially the amateurs – do a background check on the prospective guests and make sure they are who they claim to be.
2. Learn more about your guests
If you want to ask precise and relevant questions, you should know your guests really well. Merely learning their job titles or achievements won’t do. Among the bunch of tips for podcast hosts that I want to share, this one demands the attention of newcomers as well as experienced podcasters alike.
Don’t wait for the actual interview day to learn about their life – a lot of podcasters are guilty of this. You must do your research well before you actually interact with them.
Try to know about it beforehand, as much as possible. Know all the things they have spoken or written on public forums and the Internet. Make yourself extremely familiar with their public persona.
3. Understand their work, industry, and philosophy
Your research should not stop at what your guest has said or done. Learn a bit about the line of work he or she is in or the causes they champion.
Even within a specific niche or industry, there are many branches or variations. If your guest is a Keynesian economist, you must know what Keynesian economics represents. If your guest is a wellness coach, then find out what exactly the title means, i.e., what wellness coaches do in general, what kind of people or industry they work for.
These details will help you make a lot of difference to your content, and you will know what exactly you want to get from the guest. You must know enough to ask relevant questions that make you sound curious yet intelligent.
This will also help you with choosing and approaching the right guests. Unless you learn about their work line, you can’t fairly assess how they are relevant to your podcast. Your listeners are investing their time in your work, so you have to make sure that whatever your guest will be sharing on the show is strongly related to your podcast content. You are not going to diverge from your niche or intended aim to accommodate a guest. Rather you have to align their knowledge with your work.
4. Introduce them in your show notes
If you follow the above-mentioned tips for podcast hosts, it would be very easy to write a concise introduction for your show guests and include it in your show notes. This will give listeners another reason to tune it to your show. Publish this also on your podcasting website.
If your guest is an authority on the subject, the show notes will prompt new listeners to download the episode. Most subscribers of any podcast do not follow it right from day one. A podcast has quite a number of episodes by the time it gets traction. Many new listeners would love to go check out the old episodes and see if there is something worth listening to. Reading the name of guests and what they are going to speak about would encourage them to download the older episodes.
Additionally, you may include this description in the mail updates that you send to your mailing list. This will generate enthusiasm for your next show among people who might not open their podcast app every day but regularly check their mailboxes.
5. Prepare your questions in advance
Since I am sharing tips for podcast hosts for a variety of podcasters who might be reading this right now, I want to talk about a point that might be pretty obvious to some of you, but trust me, many newcomers make this mistake. And that is not preparing the questions well in advance.
Amateur podcasters may be amazed by the free-flowing conversations they listen to on podcasts, but the list of questions should be ready beforehand.
That is a must if you want to get the best from your guest. Your listeners will not tune to listen to what would sound like a telephone call between two acquaintances, and they want a well-structured, insightful show! Prepare well and ask questions that let you create a great episode.
Also, the interview is not a test for your guests. You don’t want to make them nervous or your podcast episode to have abrupt pauses or cuts. Rather than springing surprises on them, share the list of questions with them in advance. They may be leaders of their respective fields, but it might be their first time appearing on a podcast show. Give them time and space to prepare. Take feedback from them about your questionnaire – is there something that you have left out but deserves a space on your show? Is there a better way to ask a question?
6. Make your guest comfortable
If the guest is coming over to your studio, your space should have a proper, comfortable chair for them to sit. The place should be tidy and clean with proper cooling, and there should be potable water and maybe a few snacks for them to energize.
Inform them in advance how long the recording will take – so that while they are at it, they don’t have any other pressing concerns. Your guest may be learned and experienced, but a studio recording set up can be overwhelming for them. Or the guest may face stage fear.
Make them comfortable, guide them through the process. They might be recording for the first time, so guide them on the little things- like how far they should be from the mic. My tips for podcast hosts might sound a bit frivolous, but trust me, these small things add up and really make a difference to your work.
7. Create a friendly atmosphere
These tips for podcast hosts – most of them are based on my own experience. And I want to put them together so that I can help you jump-start your podcasting journey. When I first started recording – it was in my home studio, which made me realize the importance of having a distraction-free atmosphere!
If you are having guests at your home studio or recording studio, make sure there are no distractions. Put your phone on silent mode, ask your family or coworkers to not disturb you. Make sure your pets or kids don’t scurry around while you are doing an interview.
If you are interviewing over a phone call, make sure there are no background noises. Let the guest know how long the phone call will be and ask him or her to sit in a noise-free room as well.
8. Hone your skills
There are chances that your guest might sound natural, but your voice comes across as scripted or monotonous. Work on your voice skills. No matter who your guest is, you got to sound confident. You are the host, don’t get nervous or over-excited if you are interviewing a very popular personality or someone you are a fan of!
While I am listing down tips for podcast hosts, I want to remind you that podcast is essentially an audio content format, and you need to think of yourself as a voice-artist if you want to take the quality of your recordings to the next level.
Do vocal warm-ups to sound better and practice voice modulation. Listen to your recorded voice over and over again – know what can be improved. You can also have practice sessions – perhaps a friend may be willing to play the part of the guest and help you rehearse!
How to ask meaningful questions to your guests?
The flow of your podcast episode, and the content you will deliver hinges on the questions that you are going to ask. Hence, the questions that are going to frame are pivotal to making an interesting episode.
- Don’t lead your guest – Don’t ask questions that superimpose your point of view. Keep your tone neutral. You want to know what your guest feels or thinks, and you have not asked them over to validate your thoughts.
- Don’t ask Yes/ No question – That would lead to awkward silences and a lack of meaningful insights from your guests. And that will not ignite a long and engaging conversation that you need for a podcast episode.
- Ask one question at a time – Don’t barge your guest with multiple questions. Ask one clear-cut question at a time. This will also make the conversation easy to understand for your listeners.
- Build a narrative through your questions – Ask the question in a sequence, that will let your guest chalk out a whole story for you. You can probably let your guests introduce their field of work or open their story before you move on to more complex or critical matters.
- Sound conversational – Most part of the conversation is going to be pre-planned. But you should not sound scripted or childish. Don’t say things like ‘I am going to ask you 10 questions’ or ‘the third question is’….remove such phrases and sound natural.
- Remember your show length – Keep in mind the duration of your show and decide the number and complexity of your questions. If you make short episodes, say 15 to 20 minutes long, you can discuss in advance with your guests and suggest them to keep their answers concise.
Your questions should generate conversations that are interesting and
Focus on Engagement
Your questions should generate conversations that are interesting and insightful to your listeners. Think about what you want to share with your listeners. Consider what answers they would have sought from your guest on the topic of concern.
Keep the comfort of your guest in mind. This is an interview for a show, not a job interview or a courtroom hearing! Don’t badger the guests. You have to bring out the best of them, rather than questioning their knowledge.
Have a discussion with your guest in advance. Let them know what your show is about and what is the profile of your ideal listener. When they come prepared with answers, it is your podcast that is going to benefit.
Podcasting is easy as well as tricky – and involving more people into your work, like bringing a guest, requires thorough thinking. I hope that my tips for podcast hosts can help you all visualize the process and help you become a better podcast host.
You’re welcome. I hope you found it useful!