Listening to any podcast and you can tell a great show host from a not-so-good host almost immediately. All too often people start podcast shows for the wrong reason – they want to be a celebrity. Follow that line of thinking and you are doomed to fail.
What makes a great host is that the host focuses on their guest and truly wants to find that piece of information that can help their audience. So, how do you become a great host? Follow these simple rules.
1. Focus on your guest
Focusing on your guest is so easy, but so many of us just don’t do it. Do your research, ask open-ended questions and let them talk. You should do less talking than your guest.
2. Ask great questions
The best way to ask great questions is to ask one at a time. The next best way is to not explain your question in four different ways. Often, you will hear the show host ask a great question and then ruin it by babbling on and on for another minute and a half explaining away, or worse yet answering their own question. Ask the question and then let the guest answer it.
Bad question: Did you have a rough childhood?
Good question: How did your childhood impact you today?
Great question: I understand that your parents told you that you were worthless in the 5th grade. How often do you think about their comments when you are signing 10 million dollar checks?
3. Follow the leader
I am going to tell you that it is a great idea to go down the rabbit hole. But only as far as you can still see daylight. So many times you will hear a guest talk about something really juicy and the host won’t pick up on it. They just leave it there. Make the show exciting by following the leader down the rabbit hole and exploring the tangents of their answers or conversations.
4. Bring good energy
As an editor, I hear shows die all the time. The host lacks energy and isn’t prepared. The guest gives a killer answer and the hosts says “yep, okay next question”. You have to play off each other and always keep in mind that no guest has to be there and no guest that has a bad time is going to promote your show. Have fun and bring the energy.
5. Don’t use these stupid words
6. Model the greats
Like it or not, Howard Stern is one of the best interviewers in the world. He’s fast, witty and does a ton of excellent research. He plays off his guests and makes them feel at home. That’s why he is able to dig into their lives on such a deep personal level.
Find hosts that you like, the ones that do a great job, and then listen to what they do. Emulate it in your own style and follow the rules above.