14 Tips to Being a Better Podcast Host

by Jill Thomas | Feb 18, 2022 | Podcasting

Read Time: 6 min read

Summary: TL;DR: To enhance your podcast hosting skills, choose topics you're passionate about, prepare show content, have a contingency plan for unexpected situations, practice active listening, and be authentic like talking to a friend. Consistency in scheduling, episode length, and format is key for listener engagement. Make content digestible, work harmoniously with co-hosts, understand your audience, and interact with them for feedback. Research guests thoroughly, keep them relaxed during interviews, and conduct smooth conversations. Review past episodes for improvements and consider professional podcast services for growth. Remember, authentic engagement and preparation are crucial for a successful podcast hosting experience.

Starting a podcast is a great way to market your brand or create an outlet to discuss your passions, but podcast hosting doesn’t always come naturally. Here are 14 ways you can improve your hosting abilities!

Choose Topics that Interest You

Make sure to find podcast topics that resonate with you so your passion shines through in each podcast episode. Though you don’t need to be an expert on every topic you discuss, you do have to care about the subject, even if you’re a skeptic. Plus, if you can find your topical niche, it’ll be easier to build a community of listeners who care about the same things as you do.

Prepare Show Content

It’s important to plan out your podcast content before you record episodes. Create a podcast script or an outline for every episode. Consider providing this plan to any guests or interviewees you have on your show so they can start thinking about their own talking points as well. When planning interview questions, be sure to write them as open-ended prompts so you get more interesting stories and meaningful conversations out of your guests.

Have a Contingency Plan

Podcast episodes don’t always go according to plan. You may have a guest derail the topic, talk over you, get too heated, or draw a blank. This is why it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan so you can take control of the conversation and get back on track. Having a list of questions in front of you in case a guest loses their train of thought is helpful so you can quickly pivot. You can also always pause the recording (if it’s not live) or go to an advertiser break (if it’s recorded live).

Practice Active Listening

While preparation is key, being present during your podcast recording is just as crucial. This means listening actively to what your co-host or guests are saying so you can ask thought-provoking questions and let the conversation flow naturally. Some tips for active listening include making eye contact, avoiding interruptions, and paying attention to nonverbal cues like body language and facial expressions.

Act Like You’re Talking to a Friend

Being authentic on your podcast is the best thing you can do to be a good podcast host. One of the best ways to achieve this is to pretend like you’re talking to a friend when you’re recording. When you’re around friends, you tell stories, feel comfortable enough to make mistakes, laugh, and talk casually. These genuine and relatable moments are what make a great podcast. Plus, if you act as if your listener is in the room with you, they can discover the conversation with you as it unravels.

Be Consistent

One of the best ways to create a loyal listener base is to be consistent. Find a podcast recording and upload schedule that works for you and stick to it so your audience knows when to expect your podcast episodes. This helps your listeners build your show into their routines and lets them know they can count on your content, which can contribute to listener loyalty and engagement. The same goes for being consistent with your podcast episode length and podcast format.

Keep Your Podcast Digestible

When you’re recording a podcast, be mindful of how fast or slow you’re talking and make sure to enunciate your words. Ask guests to explain technical information in simpler terms for listeners who may not be as familiar with the topic. One tip for hosting a podcast is to break up chunks of information with stories, examples, or segments so your listeners have time to process what you’re saying. Short segments make content easier to digest and help keep your audience engaged.

Work as a Team with Co-Hosts

If you have a podcast co-host, make sure you can bounce off of one another naturally in conversation and have a clear expectation of each other’s roles and responsibilities. Make sure you’re listening to each other, splitting interview time, and sharing the floor as well. One helpful tip is to establish turn-taking cues with your co-host. These could be anything from a hand gesture to verbally handoffs like “What do you think?” or “Do you agree?”

Get to Know Your Listeners

Remember, you’re not speaking into a void! Learn about your listeners by looking into your podcast audience demographics. Where you collect your podcast analytics depends on where you publish your podcast. Pay attention to information regarding:

  • How many people are listening to your podcast
  • Where and what time of day are they listening
  • How much of the episode they listened to and what point they stopped
  • Your highest and lowest ranking episodes

These metrics can help you get an idea of who your listeners are and what content they interact with the most, which allows you to better shape and market your podcast to your target audience. For instance, if you tried a new segment in an episode and that episode received more engagement, then you should consider making that segment a regular part of your show.

Interact with Your Audience

Engaging in conversation with your podcast listeners is a great way to receive and implement feedback, build a community, and retain loyal audiences. Encourage your listeners to leave podcast reviews and make sure to read them. Reviews help with podcast growth and reveal what your listeners want from you. You can also ask your audience to participate in social media polls, send in stories or questions to be shared on the podcast, and attend live events for your podcast.

Research Your Guests

When booking podcast guests, pick and choose guests wisely. Who would your audience be interested in hearing from? How could this guest contribute to your show topics? Conducting thorough research on potential guests upfront is the best tip for podcast interviews. The more you know about them, the more intriguing and in-depth questions you can ask them. Also, your guests will be more likely to open up more when they realize you’ve taken the time to do your research.

Keep Your Guest Relaxed

One way to put your podcast guest at ease is to send them your episode outline or interview questions ahead of time so they feel prepared and know what to expect. While recording, keep in mind that your guest most likely has something they’d like to promote, too. Let them know when they’ll be able to plug their business or special cause so that they don’t spend the whole show worrying about getting the promotion in. And just like it’s important to thank your audience, it’s also a smart idea to show your guests appreciation. Maybe send them a small gift afterward or give them a shoutout on your social media channels.

Interview Like a Pro

Work to conduct smooth, stress-free interviews for any and all guests you have on your show. One podcast interview tip is to chat with your guest before you start recording and then continue that casual dialogue into your podcast. When interviewing, start with easy questions like “Where are you from?” so they have a chance to warm up. If you’re doing a virtual interview, set your guest up with any equipment they may need and make sure they know how to use it. Bonus points if you do a test run ahead of time to make sure the quality is good and everything runs smoothly!

Review Past Podcast Episodes

Go back to old podcast episodes and listen for any audio issues or spots where you might be losing your audience. You may discover ways to improve the podcast listening experience for your audience and identify additional podcast equipment needed to enhance the quality of your show. This can also be practiced as a form of long-term reflection, as you’ll be able to gain a better perspective on episodes you posted a while ago vs. ones you’ve only just uploaded.

Want to improve your podcast? Hurrdat Media offers all kinds of podcast services from production and advertising to hosting and consultation. We also have an in-house media network!