It seems like everybody and their dog’s starting a podcast these days. Whether they’re starting with full professional setups or laptop mics and dreams, the podcast phenomenon isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
And let’s be honest—most newbies have no clue what they’re doing. Plenty of people might call themselves podcasters, but there are too many imposters among us.
So in this article, I’m leaving no room for error. You’ll learn how to be a successful podcast host, commanding an engaged audience with their compelling content.
Let’s jump in:
1. Get a Professional Setup
The first step to being a successful podcast host is having a professional setup. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hundreds of dollars on the newest, fanciest equipment. But it does mean you need to have quality gear that will produce quality sound.
Here are a few things you’ll need:
- A good microphone. This is the most important part of your setup. Invest in a quality microphone that will pick up your voice clearly
- A quiet room. Background noise will ruin your podcast. Record in a quiet room with minimal echo
- Recording and editing software. You’ll need software to record and edit your podcast episodes
2. Prepare for Each Episode
You can’t wing it if you want to be a successful podcast host. You need to prepare for each episode by brainstorming topics, creating an outline, and researching your guests (if you have any).
Speaking of outlines, they’re non-negotiable. Having one ensures you stay on track and cover all the topics you want to cover.
Your outline should include:
- An introduction
- Main topics and subtopics
- Questions to ask your guests
- A call to action
A podcaster’s outline is like a hiker’s map—it tells you where to go.
3. Be Yourself
The best podcast hosts are authentic and genuine. They’re not trying to be somebody they’re not.
Your listeners can tell when you’re being inauthentic. Your podcast will suffer if you’re not comfortable in your own skin.
So be yourself, and let your personality shine through. In the words of the great legal mind Howard Hamlin, “Don’t be a sussy baka—that’s all I have to say about it.”
4. Keep It Casual
Podcasting is a casual medium. It’s not like radio where you have to sound polished and professional all the time. In fact, being too polished can actually hurt your podcast.
Your listeners want to feel like they’re having a conversation with a friend. They don’t want to feel like they’re being talked at by a know-it-all.
So keep it casual, and make your podcast feel like a conversation.
5. Engage With Your Audience
Engaging with your audience is key to being a successful podcast host. You need to cultivate a relationship with your listeners if you want them to stick around.
There are a few ways you can engage with your audience:
- Respond to comments and questions on social media
- Read listener feedback on air
- Conduct polls and surveys
I’m not a podcaster, but I’m extremely active on LinkedIn and Twitter. If I, someone running a full-time content business, have time to engage with my audience, so do you.
6. Be an Expert in Your Field
Podcast hosts need to be experts in their field. They need to be able to speak confidently and knowledgeably about their topic.
If you’re not an expert, that’s OK. You can become one by reading books, listening to other podcasts, and taking courses.
The more you know, the more credible you’ll be. And the more credible you are, the more successful your podcast will be—it’s really that simple.
7. Be a Great Storyteller
Podcast hosts need to be great storytellers. They need to capture their listeners’ attention and hold it until the very end.
Here’s what makes an effective storyteller:
- Tone. Your tone should be engaging and captivating.
- Pacing. Your pacing should be slow enough to keep your listeners’ attention but fast enough to keep them from getting bored.
- Voice. Your voice should be clear and easy to listen to.
8. Get Awesome Guests
The best way to make your podcast more successful is to get awesome guests
Guests can bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to your podcast. Their clout also combines with yours to form a clout synthesis, helping you attract new listeners with your rizz (unspoken or otherwise).
When you’re looking for guests, look for people who are:
- Experts in their field
- Interesting and engaging
- Willing to promote their appearance on your podcast
Great guests make great podcasts, got it?
9. Promote, Promote, Promote
If you want people to listen to your podcast, you need to get it out there in the world.
There are a ton of ways to promote your podcast. You can use social media, collaborate with other podcasters, or even buy ads.
The key is to be creative and consistent with your promotion. The more you promote, the more listeners you’ll get. And the more consistent you are, the faster you approach critical mass.
Speaking of which…
10. Be Consistent
Central to being a successful podcast host is consistency. You need to release new episodes on a regular basis if you want to grow your audience.
Your listeners need to know when they can expect new episodes. If you’re too inconsistent, they’ll get frustrated and stop listening.
So find a release schedule that you can stick to and commit to it. Your listeners will thank you for it.
11. Listen to Other Podcasts
As a podcast host, you need to be constantly learning and evolving. Listening to other podcasts is one of the single most effective ways of doing that.
When you’re listening, pay attention to things like:
- How the host sounds
- What topics they cover
- How they structure their episodes
12. Be Patient
You need to be patient. Making a successful podcast takes time, hard work, and dedication.
There are no shortcuts—you can’t just hit record and expect people to start pouring in.
So be patient, and keep plugging away. The success you’re looking for is just around the corner.
13. Know Your Audience
Successful podcast hosts know their audience well.
So follow in their footsteps—you need to know who they are, what they like, and what they want from your podcast.
Interacting with your audience is the best way to get to know them. Read their comments and questions, and pay attention to the feedback they give you.
The more you know about your audience, the better equipped you’ll be to deliver the content they’re looking for.
14. Write Compelling Episode Titles
The title of your podcast episode is important. It’s the first thing your listeners see, and it’s what makes them decide whether to listen to your episode or not.
Your title should be:
- Accurate. It should accurately reflect the topic of your episode.
- Interesting. It should pique your listeners’ interest and make them want to listen.
- Short. It should be short and to
15. Make Each Episode Its Own Thing
Your podcast episodes should be their own stand-alone entities.
Each episode should have its own focus, and it should be self-contained. Your listeners shouldn’t need to listen to previous episodes to understand what’s happening.
The best way to do this is to focus on one thing per episode. Choose a topic, and stick to it.
Don’t try to cram too much into one episode. It’ll only overwhelm your listeners and make them tune out.
16. Use a Script
The best way to sound professional and polished is to use a script.
A script will help you stay on track, and it’ll ensure that you cover all the points you want to make.
That said, you don’t want to sound like you’re reading from a script. So memorize your script, and make it sound like you’re having a conversation.
17. Make Intros and Outros
Your podcast needs intros and outros. They’re like bookends—they help your episodes feel complete and give your listeners a sense of closure.
Your intro should give your listeners a taste of what’s to come. It should be short, sweet, and to the point.
Your outro, on the other hand, should be a little longer.
That’s it! Those are my 15 tips for being a successful podcast host. I laid out the process; now it’s up to you to follow through.
And let’s be clear: following through is easier said than done. Most people starting a podcast don’t keep at it long.
If you’re one of the persistent few who pushes through, the rewards are bountiful.