By Karly Nimmo of Radcasters Podcasting S’cool.
As a podcast host, a guest, and from working with hundreds of podcasters, I’ve seen almost everything. The good, the bad and the train wreck ugly (you know, that mess that is hideous but you just can’t look away?).
I’ve seen rock solid, rigid processes and systems. I’ve seen chaotic, frantic, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mayhem. And everything in between. So I thought I’d sit down and give you a heads up on what makes a good and terrible podcast host.
Disrespecting my privacy
Taking my email address and adding it to your mailing list: not cool.
Many hosts have taken the fact I’ve sat down in an interview with then as the go ahead to add me to their mailing list; without my permission. Not cool at all. Unless I’ve explicitly expressed that I’d like to be on your list, don’t add me without my permission. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth as a guest. And makes me feel a little bit violated and disrespected. It’s kind of like inviting someone over for dinner, and them taking your keys so they can drop in whenever they like.
On the flip side, it’s totally okay to stay in touch. Follow up after your interview with a thank you. Then again with some links and images once their episode is live. And maybe a few months down the track to ask if they’ve had any traction, or to share that they are the most downloaded ep… something that is related to your existing relationship with them; fostering and respecting that. If you’d like to keep in touch, ask them how they’d prefer you do that moving forward, and then do it that way.
Be on time
There is nothing worse than sitting at your computer, waiting for a podcast interview to start. Be on time goes for both sides. As a guest, be on time. Not a minute late. Be ready to go. As a host, be on time. Hit call the second that clock ticks your scheduled time.
Generally I’ll drop a polite message to the other party to let them know I’m ready when they are. Makes that whole waiting weirdness a little less weird. ‘Do I call them? Or am I meant to wait for them to call me?’
Being late is disrespectful. That person has committed and shown up, and your tardiness shows a lack of respect for their time. If for any reason you are running late, offer the courtesy of a quick note.
You want to get the best out of your guest and doing so requires a certain level of trust and rapport. If you aren’t on time, it’s likely the guest will already have a bit of a barrier up when you do dive in. And it’ll make your job much harder when it comes to getting the gold.
Know when to shut up
Look. Yes. It’s your show, but that doesn’t mean it all about you. Be quiet and let the guest speak. If they need help, or are nervous and really struggling, then gently guide them on track. But don’t make it all about you.
Another pet hate is the need to constantly validate. Silence is golden, and nowhere is that more true than in your role as a podcast host. Keep quiet. The constant ‘hmmmm’ and ‘yes’ can be distracting. And it stops your guests’ flow.
I totally understand that it’s natural for us to want our guest to know that they are being heard. And vocal validation is one way of making that happen. If you feel like that is the case, maybe do a video call instead. That way you can nod your head, smile and look at the camera. This helps to build rapport too, as the person really feels like you are listening.
Generally, people are very uncomfortable with silence. They need to fill it. Just like you do, when you are validating someone vocally. So people will fill the silence with something. Anything. And when you fill that silence, you’re not allowing the gold to unfold. The gold really happens when your guest goes off path and starts to wander down a road they hadn’t even considered. This is where you’ll often get your “tweetable”, or your magic quote.
I know. I know. ‘But you just said shut up?’
You gotta know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
There are two key areas I see plenty of podcasters fall down: pre and post-show communication.
Put a system in place that allows for pre-show communication. I use Acuity Scheduling and once my guests select their interview time slot, and pass on all their details (name, email, skype, bio and headshot), a series of emails go out to them, explaining all the details they could possibly want. Some key details I include are:
- My intention for the show
- What they can expect during the recording
- Questions I may ask
- A video on what they need to be a rad guest (you are more than welcome to use it)
When I originally wrote my email sequence, I imagined someone who I knew would need every single detail before hand. We all know one of those people right? The kind who need to know the exact when, what, how, why before doing anything. I’ve tailored my correspondence to that one person, and let people know it’s fine for them to fly by the seat of their pants too.
And then after the show, share when it will be going live. Keep them in the loop. And once it is live, be sure to make it as easy as possible for them to share. Don’t expect that they’ll do it, because many won’t, but do make it as easy as you can for them.
Provide them with links to iTunes and your website. Give them some artwork to share. Tag them in Facebook, twitter or instagram posts. Create an image with a quote of something amazing they’ve said. Perhaps even give them some ‘swipe text’ – text they can copy and paste into a post.
One of the most awesome things about podcasting is the relationships you make. People who you might not have access to beforehand are suddenly talking to you. And often, they are influencers in your field.
Respect your guests’ time, communicate with them clearly, and you’ll make their first impressions of you rock solid. Make their experience as professional, easy and enjoyable as possible. Then nurture these relationships and allow them to continue to flourish.
Being a rad podcast host can only have a positive impact on your podcast, your business and your life.