How to Be A Better Podcast Host When Hosting Guests On Your Show

How to Be A Better Podcast Host (What Every Guest Wants You To Know)

Last week, we dug in and we went from pitch straight through to marketing, promoting, and sharing the show on how you could be a better podcast guest. This time I want to take that same trajectory this week because there are also things on the host side that we can do to set the guests up for success. When our guests succeed and have a good experience, guess what, so does the listener. That’s what we want. That’s our ultimate responsibility.

I want to remind you, before we dig into this, we did an episode a few months ago about dealing with difficult guests and having to make some decisions in your post-production about guests. I want you to listen to that one in addition to this one because there is some fundamental importance there around making decisions for your show that I think is important. 

The first thing you need to know to be a better podcast host… You also need to do your research. 

This is how we started our list last week and it’s as important here as it is there. So often, I see hosts pitching guests because they have a “big audience”. Because if I get this massive following to listen to this person that they’ve very likely heard on other shows, then they’ll love me so much. They’ll come hang out and listen to my show, which is not a great tactic. Someday, we’ll do a whole episode on this maybe but not a good plan.

If you do invite someone because you respect them and has nothing to with their audience size, and you just know they’re going to be incredibly helpful for your audience and you’re going to be able to have a really engaging and quality conversation that helps your listeners do what they need to do, cool, go for it, but make sure that you’ve done the work. Don’t just come to the show ready to wing it. Understand what you want out of the show, what is the takeaway you want listeners to have when they’re done with your conversation. Be ready to have an actual back and forth. Participate in the conversation.

We’re going to talk about this forward in another one but I want to be really clear. There’s as much research you need to do as the guest and this is also true if you’re pitched by someone else. Honestly, it may be more true. If you are getting pitched, you should be going down a research rabbit hole of one of the shows that they’d been on. We don’t actually take pitched guests on the show. At this point, it’s a blanket decision I’ve made but when I did, the very first thing I did was go listen to other guest appearances. I want to know what they’re like in an interview. I want to know how they answer questions. I can generally tell if a show is a show that’s going to edit a guest into sounding better than the guest sound, which is one of the reasons I listen to more than one show, before I ever respond.

Now, the response is much quicker because it’s almost always no. But you need to take the time to figure out where they’re going to fit in for your listeners. You know we talked about this last week, this idea of you being the executive producer of your show and you have a responsibility to your listenership. It’s doing this research [inaudible]. Coming ready to move the conversation, how you want to move the conversation. Cool. All right.

The second thing you need to do to be a better podcast host is to give clear expectations.

Be clear both before when you’re reaching out with whatever platform you’re going to be recording on, whether that is Zoom, or I don’t know if people still use Skype for podcasts interviews. I had for a long time because I get a much cleaner recording than I could get out of Zoom. Riverside, that’s what we’ve been using for our guests interviews the last couple times we’ve had guests. Zencastr, we’ve worked with clients who use Zencastr. Whatever the platform is, make sure that you set them up for success, to give them really clear expectations around when to show up, what they need to have, what they need to have ready, headphones, microphone, suggestions.

You gotta remember, not all podcast guests are podcasters—although I’ll be honest, I really prefer podcast guests who are podcasters because it makes my job as the host easier—but set them up. Let them know what to expect. If you’re using a platform like Riverside or you’re using a platform like Zencastr where it is a specialty software, make sure you send over instructions, make sure you send over a link or to a YouTube video or something like that on what to expect in the interface. What’s cool is that these tools have created really good resources to send your guests before the show. Equip them with that. Set clear expectations.

Then give them clear expectations of where you want the conversation to go. I love, once we’re on the call getting ready to dig in, giving the guest a quick rundown, “Here’s the bullet points I have in front of me that I want to make sure we cover in this episode.” I don’t like scripts. Just like in these episodes, I don’t script. I work off the same sort of bullet point structure. In fact, all I have written down for the show is four bullet points. They are literally the four things I’m going to say to you. I’ll share those with the guests. I’ll say, “Hey, I’m hoping we start here, then we move here.” I really want this to be a key takeaway for them and that’ll be where we’ll close, then I’ll ask, “Where you can point them. Do you have an idea of what you want them to be?” I do try to get my guests thinking about that stuff. I like this because I’d like to let them be ready.

If you have a question that you ask every guest—I’ve had hosts do this with me when I’ve been a guest—let them know that in advance, they should, as your guests, if they listened to last week’s episode, already know that because they’ve listened to one or two of your shows but I always like to know in advance. I don’t have a question I ask everybody but I always like to know in advance, if there’s going to be a question because it’s clearly a thing for your show, nudge me, so that I can think of a really good answer. Set expectations. Let them know what’s going to be happening, what the process will be.

Also, depending on how you end, maybe you’re going to wrap up the show and say goodbye but you want them to stay on line with you, let them know that’s what’s going to happen, “Hey, we’re not recording right now. This is just us. We’ll start recording.” This is also when I do, “If there’s something later that you want us to take out of the show, just let me know and we can remove it.” Let them know that then. Also let them know what’s going to happen at the end of the show. At the end of the show, I’m going to say, “Bye, thanks for listening.” Let them know that they’re free to go or you want to close out with them. I like to close out and say, “Goodbye and thank you.” But yeah, that’s what you want to do. Give clear expectations.

The third piece to being a better podcast host, it’s gotta be more than a call and response Q&A. 

Make sure you are participating in the conversation. Once the guest answers your question, take something they said and expand on it. Reiterate it. It doesn’t always have to be that you build on it because maybe you’re really highlighting their expertise or maybe it’s a case study episode and you are speaking about the impact you’ve had, and you don’t want to be like, “And I did this too.” But reiterate, “What I’m hearing there is you say, blah-blah-blah. It’s a really great point about XYZ.” Whatever those pieces are, reiterate them, bring them back, expand on them, talk through the process. This will help give your listener the opportunity to process really incredible takeaways your guests inevitably have but also it will introduce more voices.

The great thing about a host guest or a dual host situation is that back and forth is the conversational rhythm that can come. Don’t kill that by waiting for them to complete their answer, pausing, then asking your next question. You will remove every bit of personality from the interaction and that’s not at all what you want to be doing.

The fourth thing you can be doing to be a better podcast host… make it really, really freakin easy to share. 

I’m talking about putting a Google Drive folder together or Dropbox folder together with the assets, with a Google Doc or a doc inside of Dropbox—you can tell I use Google Docs—with a list of Instagram posts, hashtag suggestions, whatever, LinkedIn post ideas, whatever it is. Make it really easy for them to share. Give them the assets to do so, so that they can share. Equip them too.

Also ask them too. When the episode goes live, send them an email saying, “Thank you for being on the show. Here’s how you can share it. I really appreciate you taking the time.” If having guests on your show is a key part of your strategy, you need to be taking care of them because they are an incredibly important link to your next great guest. They are the key to a whole nother audience because they likely have their own audience that they’ve brought to your show. Make it really easy for them to invite them to your show. Don’t miss that opportunity.

All right, we kept this brief today, which is good. I want you to take one of these things. I want you to implement them. I want you to do the doing that comes after the listening. It’s absolutely critical. 

As we wrap up, I want to remind you, if you are looking for some support with your show, if your show was feeling like enough to dues and you’re like, “Stacey, I cannot make the guest experience any better. I don’t have time. I’m editing,” let’s have a conversation about handing your show off. Head over to and let’s talk about how we can take over the production of your show so that you can spend more time engaging with your guests, marketing your show, building your business, doing the sales, and all of the other things you have on that to do list. I know, I do too. Speaking of that to-do list, let’s wrap this up. Head back to it. I will see you next week. Thanks for listening.

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