Welcome to the first edition of Sounder’s Coaching Series, where we invite experts from around the podcasting industry to offer advice and answer common questions. Together we can podcast smarter! Today we welcome Travis Brown from PodDecks to debunk several common interview and hosting myths.
Podcasts have become one of the world’s favorite forms of entertainment, with the number of listeners and podcasts growing every day. With more than 30 million podcast episodes available for streaming and millions of fans hungry for more content worldwide, it’s never been a better time for creators to enter the podcasting space. It’s shamelessly my favorite medium too, which is why I love my job at Podcast Buddy. For the last seven years, I’ve coached new podcasters through planning, launching, editing, and growing their new show. I’ve also talked with countless creators who dream of finally starting a podcast but are hesitant to even try. Why? Myths about hosting that lead to a lack of confidence.
There are tons of podcasting falsehoods about what it means to be a “good” podcast host. After launching over 100 shows and editing over 2,000 episodes, it’s become clear to me that these myths need to be addressed. Most of them are nonsense, but they hold perfectly capable people back from fulfilling their podcast dreams. We don’t want that. In this guide, I’m going to debunk seven popular myths about what it means to be a “good” podcast host and interviewer. There’s room for everyone in podcasting because it’s not a one-size-fits-all medium. Style and personality are celebrated!
1. Only extraverts make good hosts
If you’ve ever thought about creating a podcast, but are concerned that you aren’t extraverted enough to be a compelling host, I’ve got news for ya! While an extravert can certainly be a good podcast host, you don’t have to be massively outgoing to be a fantastic interviewer. There’s a myth out there saying that extraverts are the best and most successful hosts and interviewers, likely because they are branded as socially adept members of society.
The truth? Introverts have a built-in superpower when it comes to interviewing: listening. See, the key to a good interview is to ask your question, then shush up and listen to what your guest has to say! As a host, you should never be dominating the conversation, since interviewing is less about having a back-and-forth conversation and more about setting up your guests to be able to share their stories. To be fair, extraverts may have the advantage when it comes to a conversation-style show between two or more hosts. But extraverts, introverts, and everyone in between can be great podcast hosts, as long as they are willing to listen!
2. Finding interesting guests every week is impossible
First-time podcasters typically have a handful of guests in mind when they start. Once the list is exhausted in the first few episodes, they find themselves at a loss for new ideas and slowly peter out. While it’s true that finding interesting and relevant guests is an essential piece of the podcasting puzzle, the process is often much easier than people think. Here are a few simple tricks to help you find exciting podcast guests.
- Join communities of podcasters on social media (try Facebook and Reddit groups). Communities like Podcasting Mastermind Group and Podcast Guest Connection are easy to join and friendly! You can connect with other podcasters, find guests, and trade interviews.
- Reach out to podcast hosts in the same niche. Interviewing other podcasters who focus on similar topics is a great way to get more exposure and to establish yourself within a given community.
- Write to your favorite creators, innovators, business owners, etc. If you have a favorite author, why shouldn’t you shoot them an email to let them know you are a fan and would love to interview them? Once you start reaching out, you’ll be surprised by how many people show interest.
Don’t sweat the rejections. Often a “no” is simply due to limited scheduling bandwidth and has nothing to do with the size or reach of your show. Simply offer to follow up in a couple of weeks. Make a great impression and leave the door open for future collaborations.
3. No one will want to be a guest on a small show
Many creators hold off developing their podcasts because they believe they will not be able to book prominent guests without thousands of listeners. It’s a little like the chicken and the egg. The truth is, it’s not about the size of your show, it’s about the quality of your pitch! No matter who you are asking to appear on your show, the most crucial step is to present it as an opportunity.
Start by demonstrating how their unique perspective or expertise fits with the topic of your podcast. Then describe your audience’s demographic and interests. Remember, you are giving your guests the opportunity to engage with a niche audience (no matter the size). Guesting on podcasts is also a great way to get a free piece of content and publicity, which people rarely say no to!
4. You need a broadcast background to succeed at podcasting
Podcasting has become more accessible than ever before, with free programs, hosting providers, tools, and consulting companies. Despite being a relatively easy medium to enter into, many still believe that podcasting is reserved for broadcast professionals with expensive equipment, technical background, or years of experience in radio.
While a background in broadcasting may help with creating a podcast, it certainly isn’t necessary to become a successful podcast host. More important than experience is the willingness to start small, learn, ask questions, network, and keep a consistent schedule. Starting a podcast is fun but growing a podcast takes time and passion.
5. Preparing for an interview takes hours
Inviting guests to be on your podcast can be intimidating, especially if you are interviewing someone you look up to or someone influential in your industry. Lots of novice podcasters find themselves trapped doing hours of research prior to their interviews, worried that they might miss important information or critical questions.
While it is true that you should know a handful of facts about your guest, like how they can educate or entertain your audience, you don’t need to know their full life story. I advise my clients to search for their guest’s other interviews and check out some of the questions they have been asked before to see the topics they generally discuss. Then I recommend hosts prepare unique questions accordingly. By listening to how guests answered in the past, you can uniquely approach topics that will serve your audience. This tactic also helps your guests sound well-rounded and offers them the space to expand their insight.
6. Every interview has to follow the same format
One common myth novice podcasters fall prey to is that you should be asking the same questions to each one of your guests. I’ve found this idea comes from the theory that having guests answer the same questions can help create better brand consistency, giving listeners something to grab onto when they first encounter your podcast.
There is no reason to ask every guest the same question, and doing so can actually drive away listeners rather than draw them in. Tailor your questions to the individual, and leave room for a unique flow to take place. Each guest has an interesting background and perspective, so try to create a handful of talking points that highlight their knowledge, passion, or expertise. Some podcasters ask the same questions to kick things off or end the conversation as more of a hook or gimmick. This is fine as long as the rest of your interview is unique to each guest.
7. I’m not creative enough
Another common misconception holding people back from becoming podcast creators is that it is challenging to come up with interesting topics and questions. Sometimes it seems like they’ve all been covered before. Lots of creators fear their interview questions won’t be good enough to make a compelling podcast, forgetting that the juice is in the answers.
As you prepare for each interview, it is only necessary to create a few open-ended, leading questions that can help to get your guest started. Once the interview is on a roll, simply asking “why” can be a great way to enter deeper into the mind of your guest, one layer at a time.
Still feeling at a loss for decent interview questions? There are lots of ways to develop interesting questions. Jot down your favorite questions from interview-based shows you enjoy, carry a notebook during the day to write down ideas, or use tools like Pod Decks, so you always have interesting questions right in the palm of your hand.
Feeling inspired to create your own podcast? Check out Podcast Buddy to learn how we can help you create professional-sounding podcasts without having any professional experience. And get to know Sounder.fm, a free hosting platform that provides all the tools you need to grow an audience.