Many things mark out a great podcast, but few more so than the quality of the host. The audio quality is a good sign that a podcast is worth listening to, and so too is the quality and profile of the guests interviewed. And, of course, the content is vitally important too. However, all of this will come to nothing if the host is not engaging. This is something that those who work in radio have known for decades. The host is what makes a show.
However, there is a great diversity of hosts out there, and it is often the case that two completely distinctive styles of presenting can reap equal rewards. So, how can we really say what makes a good quality host? Plurawl, a company producing a popular Latino podcast in New York, say that it is all about identification.
It is not only the content of what they are saying, but also the way a host connects with the audience and makes them feel like they have something to share with the intended listener base. Without that, a host can have the most sonorous engaging voice on Earth and still fall short of the mark.
Knowledge and Prestige
Despite this difference in hosts and their varying hosting styles, we can give some pretty specific indicators as to what makes a great host (and still leave all the room in the world for that diversity). This is because hosting a podcast is a discipline that you can learn. You need to learn how to walk before you can run, and following the general advice is the walking stage. Becoming a unique host with your own style is when you finally begin to run.
Nevertheless, one thing that all great podcast hosts share in common is a knowledge of what is being talked about. This doesn’t mean they should be an expert (though that helps).It is also about doing the research before every showso that the right questions can be put to guests and the right things can be talked about with confidence. This is the knowledge we are talking about – and with it comes the host’s prestige.
Signs of a Great Host
The above sets out the fundamentals of being a top podcast host. Here follows some more generalized practical tips:
Engage the Audience
This means something quite simple – making the audience feel like they are in the room with you. A host can do this by taking the listener on a journey, as if they were discovering the topic or speaking to the guest along with the host. In practical terms, this means avoiding telling the audience what they “will experience” or the host’s personal reflections on an interview, but instead taking the tone of “join me as we discover together”. This is universal hosting advice.
How to do this exactly will depend on the audience to be connected with. In certain circumstances, it might mean sounding just like a typical audience member; other times it will be about sounding authoritative and like you know what you’re talking about. These all affect style and delivery.
Seek Out the Best Guests
And these guests are the ones your audience wants to hear from. If the host has sought out these guests, then it reflects very well on their prestige and ability to do the job. It should never feel like the guest has been thrust upon the host, even if they have!
These are the practical indicators of a good host. Beyond this, it is time to get more unique, and to create a distinct hosing personality.