Apple Podcast stats reported in 2018 there were 550,000 Podcasts online, as of January of this year, it was estimated that there were 750,000 Podcasts worldwide. This comes as no surprise especially with the upsurge of COVID 19 in 2019. Bearing this statistic in mind, how can you, as a Podcast host stand out? With such a big responsibility to deliver relevant content that your audience wants to hear. Improving your hosting skills can be overwhelming, but look no further, as today we’re going to look at the essential skills to ensure you as a host stand out! This article will be divided into two sections, the first will be looking at some skills briefly then we will look at the skill of interviewing at the end, as this is one of the most important skills a host should have.
As a host it is important that you can communicate clearly and hold the interest of your audience. Sounding conversational will be a lot easier to listen to than sounding monotone which can lead to people zoning out and not actually listening to what you have to say. Try to sound engaging and adjust your tone depending on what’s being said, if it’s exciting, don’t hesitate to maybe raise your voice slightly, have fun with it!
Our first point brings us neatly into this next point, speak with your audience as if they are in the room with you, let them follow you through the conversation to discover and learn with you. Think about creating a relationship with your audience, making your content relatable and easy to understand so a wide range of people will be able to connect with you. A good tip is to put yourself in the perspective of the audience and ask yourself; What do I want to know? What problems do I have? What are my interests? Try to think of your audience as a third person, rather than many people, this will help you speak in a one-to-one manner, allowing the audience to feel like they are on this journey with you.
I know how cliché this sounds, but this a valuable piece of information, let me explain why! The host could be described as the heart of the Podcast, because you bring something to the Podcast that is different to other Podcasts. How can you connect with an audience if you aren’t being authentic? If you try to copy a different style of communicating or try to be someone you aren’t, your audience may end up listening to other Podcasts that may adopt this particular style better as they are being authentic to themselves. You are unique and being yourself is something only you can provide and bring to the table.
How about when you are conducting an interview? How can you as the host be a good interviewer?
Do your research! Take the time to review your guests, learn more about them, their work, and their experiences. These can be in the form of their books, videos or even other Podcast interviews where they have been a guest. Prepare a bio and headshot of them for your audience so that their details can be shared with your audience during the Podcast.
Open ended conversations are a must! Try to avoid yes or no questions, this will allow a conversational flow and encourage them to explain their answers. It’s a conversation, you want them to have the platform to explain and go into detail with their points and answers. Prepare questions based on your research, what could do with more explaining? What else would you like to know about them? How did they get to this point in their lives/ work?
Every conversation and debate have the potential to turn disastrous especially when your guest has a different opinion to you and strongly believe in it. Remember you are there to learn and to teach. Be aware and able to read the conversation, watch to see if the conversation is starting to turn bitter or argumentative. Debates are brilliant to learn and understand different perspectives and can be really interesting to the audience, but you as a host has a responsibility to keep it respectful and appreciate your differences.
This is key to preparation, considering preparing your guest is just as important as preparing yourself. Sending them a few questions you may ask them can be helpful. This means that they can make sure they can prepare their answers and ensure they are answering as well as they can. it also means they aren’t caught off guard which can be quite embarrassing and allows them to disclose if there are topics/ questions they don’t want to discuss. Another way to put them at ease is before you begin recording, ask them a few practice questions to loosen them up and get them into the flow, whether it be questions about them personally or a story about them, this can be effective to relax them!
The point of a Podcast is to speak so this point can seem contradictory. However when you have a guest on, you should ensure you aren’t the only one carrying the conversation, after all, you did invite the guest to speak! Being able to listen can help you think of more new interesting questions to ask them to expand on something they have just mentioned. Again, it is conversational, so both parties should be listening and speaking. Once you’ve listened try to acknowledge their answers by building on it rather than moving on to another topic or point!
So, the moral of the story; Be yourself as authenticity is key, conversational speaking is interesting, and audience engagement can produce relationships. Interviewing skills are a must, to ensure interviews go down smoothly, preparation means less slip ups, asking the right questions can encourage a good flow and interesting information, debates can be exciting but only if both parties agree to be respectful, relaxing your guests means nerves don’t get in the way and active listening encourage learning! These skills do take time so don’t beat yourself up if it takes you some time to learn these. Practice is key. Good luck and happy hosting!