What differentiates a great podcast from an average podcast? Well, you can say it’s the audio quality or the guests who are interviewed. But at the heart of it all, the thing that defines a podcast as great is the host! The host is the glue that holds everything together. They determine what content is created, which guests make an appearance, and whether or not the audience becomes a strong, engaged community.

Becoming a great podcast host takes some skills, practice, and a few key characteristics! To help your podcast thrive, you have to learn to create the conversation your audience desires, become an expert on the subject, and really seek out the best guests to interview on your show. Of course, each of our podcasts has a unique spin and requires any number of important podcast host traits to make it a success. So take these 10 characteristics and implement them as a start to creating the successful podcast you’ve always dreamed of!

1. Engage Your Audience in Conversation


One of the best tips for a podcast host is to speak to your audience like they are in the room with you. Don’t tell them about what they “will hear” or how “great the interview was”. Instead, let them discover it along with you, in “their” moment. This helps your listeners to feel like they are right there with you, listening to the interview for the very first time as it is happening. Although this is not true, it definitely creates a much more life-like atmosphere and draws your listeners into the crucial and sometimes intimate conversations of your podcast. Most importantly, think of your listener as a third person listening in to your conversation, not a crowd of people listening to your conversation. This creates a one-on-one feel, inviting them into the conversation with you to go on the journey together!

2. Know Your Subject Matter


There’s nothing worse than going off on a tangent simply because you forgot what you were talking about in the first place. Knowing your subject matter is critical when it comes to keeping your audience engaged and actually allowing them to walk away from the episode having learned what you set out to teach them. Being well-prepared and researched in your topic can help you stay focused and gives you a clear path of the conversation. It is important to keep a narrow focus and make sure that you are not losing anyone along the way. True knowledge and expertise trump a simple opinion every time!

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3. Avoid Information Overload


Podcasts are not all about shoving information down your listeners’ throats. Often times people get bored when there is too much information thrown their way. Instead, break the information up by adding in stories, personal anecdotes, or something for your audience to relate to and remember down the road. Your listeners are much more likely to remember a story than a bunch of facts strung together. Keep in mind, you cannot assume that everyone learns the way that you do. Find new ways to be a good teacher and a great communicator and you are sure to get your message across effectively.

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4. Understand Your Audience


In order to be a great podcast host, you have to be one with the audience, and understand what’s running through their mind the entire duration of the show. Throughout the episodes, keep reminding yourself of what they would be feeling or what they would be thinking. By knowing their thoughts, you will be able to ask much better questions of your guests, really digging into what your audience is after. As the podcast host, it is your job to deliver the content they want to hear, and you can only do that when you truly understand what makes your audience tick.

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5. Seek Out The Best Guests


Sometimes a podcast guest can make or break your episode. If your guests are inexperienced with the podcasting format, do your due diligence to make sure that they get the right tools, even set up a practice run, and really get them acquainted with the world of podcasting. Now, remember, just because someone has asked to be featured on your show does not mean that they are a good fit. Again, what does your audience want? Will this guest benefit them and give them the valuable content that they are looking for? Don’t be afraid to ask these tough questions and really vet your guests to find those golden interviews!

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6. Prepare For Every Interview


Before the interview, make sure to research your guest and become familiar with their work. Take the time to read their books, listen to other podcasts that they’ve been interviewed on, and really get accustomed to their topic of choice. To dig even deeper, send out a pre-interview survey to get to know them better. Gather as much information about your guest, including their bio and headshot, so that you can give them a big thank you and share their details out with your listeners to really give them the value and exposure above and beyond what is expected. On top of that, say thank you by sending them a gift or something to remember the podcast by.

7. Set Your Guests At Ease


Preparing your guest for the interview is just as important as preparing yourself. A great way to get your guest to be more prepared is by sending over sample questions ahead of time to give them a chance to look them over and think through the possible answers they could give. Another great tip is to pick a topic of their interest, something that highlights their expertise and brings a new piece of knowledge into your show. On the day of the interview, get your guest loosened up before by asking them personal questions, or sharing a story with them. These non-threatening topics can help them become more relaxed. Then, transition straight into the interview with this same feel and energy so that the momentum is not lost for the show.

8. Encourage Respectful Debates


Part of being a skilled interviewer and great podcast host is learning how to read the conversation. Every conversation as the potential to go really well, really badly, or simply fall flat. This is where it is key for you to guide your guests along the conversation, encouraging interesting topics and diving into each aspect of what the guest has to offer. Now, keep in mind, often listeners really enjoy a spirited debate, a conversation that really gets into the nitty-gritty of a topic, especially one that is close to their hearts. As the host, you have to guide these debates and encourage them to be respectful of all sides. Again, giving your listeners the excitement of it all without it getting too heated or uncomfortable.

9. Create Killer Episode Titles


When it comes to your episode title, first impressions are key! There needs to be a hook that draws listeners in and give them a hint of what is to come without giving it all away! If your podcast has been running for a while, it can often be hard to come up with creative, catchy titles. This is where interesting content comes into play; make sure to ask guests things that have never been said on other podcasts, dig into topics that aren’t often covered, and really find that unique twist to add to your show, even if the guest is not new to the audience. Be your own creator, and really embrace that side of yourself.

10. Be Authentic


Finally, but most importantly, just be authentically you. At the heart of it all, you have to be authentic on your show. There’s nothing better than knowing that as the host, you are giving it your all! Listeners want to connect with you, the real you. Not some made up version of someone you wish you were. That is what will make your show the most unique because nobody can tell it like you can. Only you have the perspective and the point of view to share your message with your audience. At the end of the day, they tune in to hear your authentic voice and to relate to all that you have to share with them.