You invest a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in your podcast. Or maybe just time and money? Either way, your podcast is an investment and you want to get the best possible return on that investment.
So why not be the best podcast host possible?
After listening to hundreds of hours of client podcasts as a podcast manager, publishing almost 200 of my own episodes, and being on more than 50 episodes as a guest, I have a few thoughts on how we can all do it better.
This week on the podcast, I’m sharing 10 tips for being a better podcast host and a few pet peeves that I see over and over again on podcasts…for business and for pleasure. You owe it to your listeners and yourself to do it right.
Mentioned In This Episode
Welcome to episode 181 of The Content Experiment Podcast, a podcast for podcasters that supports the idea that content and marketing are ever-moving targets and it’s okay if you don’t feel like you’re doing it ALL right, ALL of the time. You have permission to experiment with little tweaks and changes in your content to find what works for you, what increases value for your audience and what grows your business. And most importantly, what feels good for you.
I’m Abby Herman, content strategist and consultant for podcasting business owners who want to make their podcast, their primary content marketing tool, feel easier and more streamlined so they can get back to serving their clients and making those sales. Because your podcast is your primary marketing tool and you want to leverage it to grow your audience, authority, and business. I’ll show you how, while you do business in a way that works for you–I can help by supporting you through building a content and marketing strategy, taking care of the podcast management for you, or giving you the tools and resources to take this on yourself.
Hosting a podcast is a LOT of work. You have all the back-end stuff to take care of, like guest management, show notes, promotion, professional audio, etc. And you also need to do the work that pays the bills. For me, that’s podcast and content management and creation. The podcast is one of my primary nurturing strategies for my business.
So as a podcast host, it’s important to get the most out of your time and, if you’re outsourcing any of your podcast production, money. Otherwise it feels like a waste.
As the host, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your audience reaches the right people with the right information at the right time. And that listeners and subscribers continue to listen and even share your episodes.
It’s important to also consider your guests who will appear on the podcast. Making it easy for quality guests ensures you have a good relationship with them and that they will do their job as guest (more on this in episode 179 where I talk about how to be a better podcast guest–be sure to check it out).
Too many podcasters give up after a few episodes, something called podfade, because they overcomplicate the process or just get incredibly overwhelmed with all the pieces. It doesn’t have to be complicated. At The Content Experiment, we work with clients to simplify the process. Some of our clients literally just record their episodes and we do everything else. Everything. While we don’t do audio editing inside TCE, we have an amazing editor we outsource to and we can also work directly with your audio editor. But all that promotion and social media content? Your nurturing emails? And email sequences from the freebies I’m going to suggest you talk about on your episode? Yep, we do all of that. To find out more about what this looks like, let’s chat. Visit thecontentexperiment.com/chat.
But for your part, as the host, how can you be the best host possible? Today I’m sharing 10 tips and a few pet peeves when it comes to podcast hosting. I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts as a podcast manager and recorded almost 200 episodes of my own podcast. So I feel like I know a thing or two about what works and doesn’t work.
Listen in and know that you are not alone with your frustrations.
Know what you want to share with your audience
I always recommend starting with surveying your audience and asking them what they want. This doesn’t mean you should send an email to your list and have people respond with what they want you to talk about on an upcoming episode. It means you should strategically survey certain people in your audience to gather ideas for your content strategy.
Go to thecontentexperiment.com/ask for my free 5-day challenge that walks you through how to do just that.
When it comes to how your podcast fits into that strategy…
Your guest episodes should be part of your content strategy
Your solo episodes should be part of your content strategy
Know what journey you want to take audience members on and what you need to share…before you start recording
What is the outcome you want? What problem are you solving with the episode? How will solving this problem support your listeners in the future?
For this episode, for example, the problem I’m solving is how frustrating it is that people aren’t taking action after listening to your podcast and that it’s taking you so much time and effort to publish each episode. The tips I’m going to offer here will help you streamline. I’m giving you the HOW. How to streamline and make things easier for you, how to reduce the amount of time you’re spending on each episode, how to make your podcast as effective as possible. As a result, you won’t experience podfade and your podcast will continue to nurture your audience…with ease.
Knowing what I want you to get out of each episode helps to ensure that the episode is valuable and helpful for listeners and that you get the most out of it possible
You can and should do the same for your podcast
Seek out guests that align with your mission and that benefit your audience
And bonus points if you can find a guest who hasn’t been interviewed on ALL the podcasts
Something that has irritated me over the years is that we see the same experts showing up over and over again. There are plenty of experts to talk about whatever topic you’re looking for. Ask around and seek them out
Don’t accept every pitch that comes at you. Be intentional about who’s a guest. Your audience will thank you and your interviews will feel SO much better.
Your podcast is YOURS and you get to decide which guests align with the message you want to share with your audience. Don’t feel like you have to accept every pitch (I rarely do!). Instead, seek out guests that are perfect fits
Send a guest intake form WHEN they book their interview – and automate this!
Make the whole process as few touchpoints as possible. Gather all the information you need from your guests up front
When they book their interview, either when they’re booking or immediately after, ask for their head shot, bio, social media links, what topic they want to speak on, web address, questions they want to be asked, and so on.
This prevents you from having to ask for this information later and allows you to keep in flow. As I’ll talk about in a minute, this is where I start planning my episode so it’s essential that I have this information early.
From the guest perspective, it’s annoying to be asked for this information later. Or is that just me? And you can’t count on the guest actually providing that information in a timely manner. Frankly, I’ll cancel the interview if I don’t have the form because it hinders my ability to do the necessary research.
The way I look at it, I’m opening the doors to my listeners for my guests. I’m spending time and money to bring their message to my people. They can fill out a form for me.
I have a template you can use for this. It’s in my brand new podcast hosting guide that walks you through all the recommendations I’ve included in this episode. You can access that at thecontentexperiment.com/guide.
Do your research and plan your interview in advance
This is huge. Why take the time to seek out a guest and interview them if you’re not going to make the most of the interview?
If you’re not going to make sure your audience gets some incredible value from the guest appearance?
It’s really obvious when the host hasn’t done their research on their guests. They don’t get to the guest’s expertise, the interview is all over the place, and it sounds very stilted on the listener’s side.
Hopefully you have a really clear reason for having the particular guest on your show. Remember that when you’re doing your research.
Take the time to review the guest intake form ahead of time. Look at their social media accounts, review their website, find some compelling content they’ve published and write down some questions around that
I think about the journey I want to take listeners on and create 5-6 questions around that, making sure to touch on the big message or lesson I want listeners to get out of it – again, talk about what outcome you want to see, what problem the guest is helping you solve, and what you want listeners to do as a result of listening in.
If you’re doing a solo episode, research is still important
Know the journey you want to take listeners on and have, at the very least, a rough outline. In case you haven’t heard me say this before, I actually script out most of my solo episodes. This ensures that I say what I want to say, the way I want to say it, and I truly believe that listeners get the most out of the episodes that way
Sometimes I go off script, and I try really hard to not make it sound like I’m on script or reading when I am. But I’ve 100% done my research!
Don’t strive for perfection
Some of the best interviews are off the cuff. Not many, in my opinion. But just because you have a list of questions for your interviews doesn’t mean that you can’t ask other questions. Make it more like a conversation vs an inquisition.
No one wants or needs to listen to perfect. Frankly, it’s intimidating. And it takes SO much time to be almost perfect (because you’ll never get to actual perfection).
Let it go and just get it published already. I promise that no one but you will notice that extra “um” or that your social media promotion for the episode isn’t your best work.
Structure your episode format for maximum impact
If your podcast is meant to grow your thought leadership, teach something; self-serving guests who are only there to promote their own thing should be a no
If your podcast is to entertain, make it fun and engaging. Limit business-type talk
I would also recommend cutting the chit chat. If you have a business podcast, your listeners probably don’t want to hear a whole background history of your guest. They probably just want to get down to the nuts and bolts of it.
Last week I was listening to a marketing podcast and it literally took 10 minutes and 36 seconds (yes, I looked because I was so annoyed) to get to the actual conversation about the topic of the podcast. I wanted to turn it off but I also really wanted the actual content too. The cohosts and the guest were talking about things that are totally and completely unrelated to the topic. Incredibly annoying.
Be aware of these side conversations and keep them to a minimum based on the structure of your podcast.
Tell the guest what you’d like to cover, before the interview starts
I hate being hit with a question I didn’t expect. And I know it shows in the way I answer the question. I don’t ever want to do that to a guest on my podcast.
Instead, I like to run through the questions really quick so they know what to expect and see if they have anything to add. This can really help to deepen the conversation and create more actionable steps for the listeners.
I do not typically send questions in advance. Partly because it’s just another step, and partly because I don’t feel like I should have to
But I will send some questions ahead of time if a guest specifically asks me to
For the love of everything SEO and ease of sharing, post every podcast episode on your website!
This drives me absolutely to the belly of frustration itself.
When we manage clients’ content, we’ll often share podcast episodes where they’ve been guests in the past. It is SO difficult to do that when the host doesn’t have each podcast episode as a post on their website.
You cannot assume that sharing your episodes from your host or from Spotify or Apple podcasts or wherever. There are too many platforms and everyone has their favorite.
Plus having the show notes and podcast player on your website helps with SEO. And that’s a really good thing
Share links and graphics with your guests prior to the episode going live.
You heard in episode 179 that guests should share the episodes they appeared on. Well…that means they need access to links and graphics! Before the episode goes live.
A lot of business owners prepare their social media posts weeks in advance. I almost said most business owners but I know that’s not the reality. At any rate, creating social media in advance is good practice. Assume that people are doing that.
Set up a templated email where you share the link and graphics the week prior. Bonus points if you have an audiogram or sample social media captions ready too. This doesn’t happen often, in my experience, but it’s SO nice when it does.
Encourage your guest to tag you in the social posts and comment on them and re-share on your accounts when they do. Of course, you should be tagging them on your posts too!
Do you really need ads? Probably not
I listen to a couple of podcasts where the podcast itself is the business. The goal of the podcast is to earn revenue from the listenership.
For most business owners listening right now, most of the audience, you have a service you offer to clients and your podcast is how you market yourself and nurture people
If that’s the case, stop with the ads. Either ads to your own services and offerings or ads to something you’re an affiliate for
Get to the meat of things
Of course, it IS important to talk about what you do and who you do it for, how you work with clients, and to give additional value. As you probably noticed in this episode, I’ve shared a bit about how my team and I manage podcasts and I shared a free opt-in, the podcasting guide, with a pretty link (it’s thecontentexperiment.com/guide if you missed it before).
This is not being salesy or publishing ads. This is being a good service provider and giving you ways to work with me or take additional action. Not only is this a good idea, it’s good podcasting.
So no long drawn out ads please, but do include information about how listeners can get more from you
Some of my biggest pet peeves?
Ads. But you already knew that because I literally just talked about it.
Banter about personal lives when it’s a business podcast. This is especially true when there’s more than one host. I just don’t like useless chitchat. You’re hosting a podcast for a reason, for a purpose, I don’t think it’s to air your personal laundry. Listeners are tuning in because they want to hear the topic you promoted in the title, not to hear about your personal life.
Aligned with that peeve, I also have a hard time listening to long, rambling podcasts that either cover too much ground or take too long to get to the point
Bad sound quality. Now I know that the sound on this podcast isn’t the best. My editor keeps trying to get me to switch software. But when there’s a weird tinny sound or the quality of sound for the host vs guest is totally different, it’s really difficult to listen to
Inconsistency. Consistency is huge, for any kind of content marketing. I would bet money that you have the ideas to publish something weekly, and I know it’s a lot of work to come up with the ideas and actually publish something. But if you’re good at what you do, listeners will come to expect content from you. So be consistent with your publishing. If you need help with this…help coming up with ideas or publishing your content on time (because you don’t have the bandwidth to do the backend work), let’s talk! This is something my team and I can support you with. Go to thecontentexperiment.com/chat to book a free quick chat with me.
I hope you were able to take away some helpful tips for your next podcast episode. I know I feel a lot better getting this off my chest. We’ve helped clients with hundreds of episodes over the years and while no podcast is perfect, there are best practices that benefit everyone.
And again if you want a guide to this episode plus a template for gathering information from your podcast guests, go to thecontentexperiment.com/guide to grab yours!
If you found value in what you learned here today or were nodding your head yes to all the things, be sure to share it on social media. Take a screenshot of the episode on your phone and share it over on Instagram stories. Tag me at thecontentexperiment. The more you share, the more we can get the podcast into the hands of more business owners, just like you, who need to hear the message that they are not alone.