Want to be the next Guy Raz? Here are some tips for aspiring podcast hosts
Everybody wants a piece of the podcast pie. According to Podcast Insights, there are over 48 million episodes available as of April 2021.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic, last year was just as monumental. In 2020, an estimated 68 million Americans turned in every week.
Podcasts keep people entertained or informed. Anyone from Former First Lady Michelle Obama, self-help author and blogger Mark Manson to plus-size supermodel Ashley Graham has dived into the podcasting world.
However, did you know that only 35% of podcast consumers listen to an entire episode? This means that a majority of podcasters are giving it their all only to have people listen to just a part of their podcast.
So what distinguishes an excellent podcaster from a mediocre one? For starters, finding the right host matters. A good host steers conversations to one that keeps audiences engaged, and who can put a unique spin on relevant topics to hook their audiences.
If you’re looking to not only break into podcasting but to stand out and gain a loyal following, these are the skills you’ll need to master:
Identify your audience and niche
To stand out, you’ll first need to concretely think about the group of people you’re hoping to cater to.
By understanding your audience, it’ll be easier to create a content strategy on relevant topics to speak about on your podcast without going off tangent.
This will play an essential role in helping you build a community around your brand.
Master the art of speaking
As cliché as it sounds, practice makes perfect. Most people can speak with ease, but not everyone can be engaging.
Every podcast host will need the right communication skills to keep their listeners glued in. You’ll want to sound conversational, not robotic, so don’t be too fussed about all the “ums” and “uhs” and “you knows.”
This is echoed by NPR podcast host Guy Raz who told Fast Company in an interview that he likes to keep filler words in his conversations.
Try a few practice runs with your notes before recording until you sound natural.
Consider checking out other people’s podcasts and picking up on how they tell a story or structure their conversations.
Avoid information overload
The last thing you’ll want to do is overwhelm your audience with too much information. This is usually the main reason why consumers start to tune out after a while – they’re bored.
Stories or anecdotes are more memorable than facts. So break up your key points and sprinkling some personal stories – you’ll give your audience something they can relate to, and ultimately, remember.
Ask the right questions
Interviews add depth and colour to podcasts, which makes it essential for any host to research their interviewees.
Apart from learning more about your interviewee, don’t forget to research topics that might be relevant to your discussion as it can help you ask better questions and keep the conversation going smoothly during the interview.
If you have some time and money on your hands and wish to learn more beyond hosting podcasts, you could consider enrolling in a course that will help you pick up useful podcasting skills in a structured manner.
Berkeley, for instance, offers a Podcast Bootcamp, an intensive seven-week, in-person graduate-level certificate programme that focuses on developing – from ideation through to promotion – a podcast series.
RMIT University also offers an Introduction to Podcasting. With this programme, candidates will learn all the basics of getting a podcast up and running – from what gear to buy, how to record interviews and edit audio, as well as how to distribute and market your podcast.
Finally, Podcast Engineering School’s podcast programme offers live interactive online training, mentoring sessions and a deep dive into podcast production, including the hardware and business aspects of it.