Since so many podcasts are interview-style shows with a host and guest, we get a lot of questions about how to be a great host. We’ve had the privilege of being in the room when lots of pro hosts and stellar guests have been interviewing, so we’ve learned some great tips. Some of these may seem obvious (but are still very important) and some of them may be new to you.
In this episode Tiff and Christine share their top 5 tips for being a rockstar host when conducting interviews for podcasts.
“It’s very powerful to ask the guest how you can support them.”Christine Baird
- (1:10) Listen more than you talk
- (2:35) Add a value-based question immediately
- (5:13) Do your research
- (7:34) Prepare your guest
- (13:08) Offer support post-interview
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- Tiff Tyler
- Christine Baird
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Transcription of this episode:
(auto-generated, please forgive typos)
Welcome to Think Like a Producer podcast. I’m your co-host Christine Baird.
And I’m your co-host Tiff Tyler. Being in the podcast industry, being in the content creation industry. This is what we learned, and this is how you can get out of your own way and get started.
You name it. We’ve probably done it. This podcast is about bringing all the wisdom to you. Tune in weekly, to learn how to think like a producer.
Right? No food in the teeth. Okay, cool. Cool. Cool. All right. Hmm. Hmm. Welcome to this episode of think like a producer today, I call it a Christine episode, but today we’re going to talk about, uh, something that’s a bit more relevant to people who are interviewing on their podcasts. Now, of course, you can have a podcast that’s solo. You could just pick up the mic and start talking about whatever you want to talk about. I mean, it’s really possible, but most people that we’ve experienced, most people we work with usually have interview shows. They interview a guest, they talk about particular topic. They talk about their lives. It can go all over the place, but overall Christine, mostly, and I get questions about how to be a rock star host. How do you get the best of the person right in front of you, making sure that not only you YouTube feel super satisfied by the end of the show, but also that anyone listening is getting the most value out of the episode.
So we’re giving you the five steps to be a rock star host. I think this is really more so towards the interviewers out there, but this could be relevant for anyone who has a show. Number one, listen more than you talk. Uh, for me, I feel like listening might be my superpower. Think Christine is a very great listener as well. We like to do that, but overall, I, we both have seen people who they have a list of questions possibly, or they know what they want to talk about. And the great thing about bringing the best out of someone is that you’re really present with what they’re seeing with who they are right now. You might’ve had this picture in your head or you no idea what was going to happen, but who they show up right in front of you, it can be, it can be a little bit different.
So making sure that you’re present with the person you’re there with them, you’re picking up. It’s kind of an LA thing to say, but like picking up on their energy, what they’re giving you, um, and mirroring that back for them. So they’re comfortable, you’re comfortable, but you’re really allowing yourself. And Christine’s going to talk about, you know, preparation, but you’re just allowing yourself to be as present as possible and go with the flow to me, this is going to get better. The more you do interviews, the more relaxed you become, the more questions you ask, which is why on an episode before this, I was like, interview your mom. Like bring people in that you might know at first, when you’re starting off as an interview, because you probably have an opportunity to listen a little bit more and be a bit more relaxed until you start to get those really big name guests in everything you want to have. But Christine, this is really your, your field of expertise. What’s number two for our top five steps for being a rockstar host.
This is one I feel passionate about. Add a value based question immediately. What do you mean Christine? I mean the first question or the first topic you introduce literally immediately after you introduce your guests. I want it to be adding a lot of value to the listener. So as we all know, if you’ve listened to a lot of interview-based shows, it’s easy to sort of default to here’s Joe and Joe has done all these things. Now, Joe, tell us about yourself. Tell us about how you grew up, unless you are potentially a professional interviewer and have done like thousands upon thousands of hours and know how to really handle that. I would not start there instead. I would say here’s Joe, these are the highlights of what Joe’s done. That’s relevant to this audience and then say Joe, and the most fascinating things I’ve seen in your work is X, X, X.
Tell me what people need to understand about that or okay, but it’s not like a script I’m giving you. I’m just saying, do you see the difference? We’re immediately. The first topic covered in the episode is a really big value. Add something where you’ve given just enough context so people can understand where this person’s coming from. And then you immediately kind of go to the sweet spot of what the intersection is between the audience’s interests and this person’s expertise. Now I feel the same way about IG Lives. Tiff and I just talked about this. I think we’ve become used to sort of this very informal chit chat. Hey guys, what’s up kind of culture around con conversing with our audiences, but for most content, it’s not going to work. It’s not going to be powerful. You’re feel like you’re wasting the audience’s time. They really don’t need to know all of that little chitter chatter.
It’s almost like people use that as a crutch to then get into the goods. Now, honest to goodness, most of the best content usually comes in the second half of an interview just because the rapport and the energy and the context has been built by that point. But if you can start with a really thoughtful question that adds a lot of value and allows your guests to add a lot of value, right? From the beginning, everything will go better and you’ll get to the really good stuff sooner. If you use the crutch of like, I don’t know what to say. I did it. I’m not sure yet. I just feel like those. I just want them to talk, like, just tell me about yourself. Like it’s not 99% of the time. It’s not going to be a good start. So ask a value, add question from the beginning. That’s my second tip. Tiff. What’s tip number three,
Research research research. Now it’s interesting to me, you know, some people after a while, if you get to know someone, you might be able to have a really cool candid conversation like Christine, you know, it’s, it’s just sort of what we’re used to. Sometimes when people have a very, very conversational interview, that’s what I want to say. But overall, especially as you prepare for bigger guests for people you don’t know, researching them and understanding who they are and how they’re relevant to your audience is really going to help, especially in the introduction, right? This is really where, um, we see, we can pretty much tell whether or not this person is well-researched or not. If you are able to give the entire bio not the, from the website bio, but you’re able to describe the person you’re about to interview for your audience and how they’re relevant to your audience.
It’s really going to show not only the person that you’re interviewing that you care that you did that took the time to research, but the fact that you took the time to put it in your own words, making sure they’re even established on what you’re going to talk about now for this audience. What’s most relevant is Christine. And I know so many people who have had five different kinds of careers and have hopped in, you know, it’s all great, right? But maybe you don’t need to talk about everything in their life. Maybe just this one particular part is what’s going to resonate most for your audience is going to be best for this. Interview’s going to bring the most value to the people that are listening. So please, we urge you research. The person makes sure that you’re able to describe who they are and what they do for your audience, especially not just for the episode itself, but here’s like another, just sort of bonus tip for the marketing.
If you’re able to capture who this person is and what they do for the audience in 15 seconds of your 60 second promo video, you’re going to get people in there immediately and a lot quicker than if it has to meet as a very long kind of drawn out explanation. Or if you make the, if you ask the person that you’re interviewing to introduce themselves, right? It’s of course they’ve said this over and over again. They’re used to doing that, but what’s going to make your show different that you did the research. You can describe them and they’re ready and relevant and just good to go with your particular audience and topic that you’re going to cover. So that’s it. I can definitely sit on my soap box about research, but Christine, number four, what would you say to everyone about being a rockstar host?
This one is something we’ve seen firsthand be super powerful. And I’ll just give the shout out to our former client Lewis Howes, beause he’s really awesome at this. And it’s preparing your guest before the interview starts and connecting with them on a very personal kind of intuitive level. So what I mean is before the interview starts, right? Kind of that meet and greet period where the person’s arrived, whether in person or digitally, it doesn’t matter. You know, you’re sitting chatting before you hit record. You want to consistently and very consciously make sure that that guest feels like their boundaries are going to be honored. That they’re seen that. They’re heard that they’re valued that you understand where they’re coming from. So questions like, Hey, I’m so excited to talk about this, blah, blah, blah, today. I love your work. Is there anything off limits that you don’t want to get into today?
Um, is there anything you are really passionate about? What’s exciting that we need to cover? What are you, you know, what’s something new that you’ve been really interested in that you’d like to discuss these kinds of questions, signal to the guests like, Oh, this person is genuinely interested in me and what I’m doing and wanting to promote that and protect me from any kind of like unwanted attention or, you know, kind of weird like gotcha questions. And that can go a really long way to make sure the guest feels safe, subconsciously that they can be vulnerable and open up and share powerful things that they might not share on other shows that are a little bit more either, you know, cut and dry and formal and impersonal or that they can tell this person doesn’t even know anything about me. You know, they read my bio five minutes ago and they, they haven’t really prepared.
So preparing your guest is kind of part one of that now included with that and kind of what carries into the rest of the interview is connecting with them on an energetic level. Tiff mentioned, we might get a little, you know, LA talk in here, but the truth is, I think we can all agree. We can feel the energy of someone and it doesn’t take that much work to kind of tune in and feel like just this person feel like they’re outgoing, extroverted, vibrant, vivacious open. Are they feeling like maybe they’re a little reserved, a little guarded? Do they seem like they’re maybe a little down, like maybe they’re not feeling super well, do they seem preoccupied this kind of emotional intelligence on a basic level? I know you have it in you, you know, you have it in you, but really tapping into that consciously right before you start the interview, as well as kind of the beginning stages and meeting your guests where they’re at, I’ve talked to clients about this several times and they know exactly what I’m talking about.
Once they’ve done a few interviews, but you might even know your guest, right? You might actually already have a relationship with them, but if you expect them to be in performance mode and you’re ignoring the signs that they’re actually a little off today or that they might be a little stressed or flustered, or they might’ve been rushing in from something they got caught in traffic, it’s really important to note that and just pause and meet them where they’re at. If you need to kind of subdue yourself a little bit and kind of just bring in some peaceful energy or if they are just live wire, flying high, all energy, you know, lifted to meet them and bring in all that from the beginning and let that kind of amplify, um, it can vary and shift throughout the interview. So that’s why I say notice at the beginning and meet them.
But then as the interview progresses, like go with them where it goes, right? If they open up in a really vulnerable space, maybe even, you know, shed some tears or kind of have a moment, go there with them, create the space, hold it, let them know that they’re safe and that you understand. And you’re, you know, empathy, these basic emotional intelligence skills. We’ve learned a lot about, um, the last few years kind of in the mainstream, those make a huge difference and it will really bring the best out of your guests. Can I say something on that quick, please come on in.
It’s okay. To pause and think, I think, you know, as Christine shouted out Lewis Howes, who we used to work for I, what I really loved about his process was that he was not afraid to pause during an episode to think about what he was going to say next. And that kind of also goes into the listening part that we were talking about, but we’ve had people submit that to his podcast and say, wow, I love that you guys let the guests think about it or that Lewis kind of takes his time before he asks the next question. Cause he’s so present with the person who’s right in front of them. So just putting that out there, you know, I think, you know, sticking to a certain timeline, trying to make sure, you know, you’re hitting 30 minutes or an hour, or, you know, you, your guests might have limited time. There’s a lot of different factors that can come in, but be okay with taking a pause, thinking about your next question and really being present with the person. And don’t feel like you have to fill in the space because that’s what editing is for. So just putting that little bonus tip out there and I’ll let the expert, Christine continue to give you a step five.
Well, clearly you’re also an expert. That’s, I’m so glad you brought that up. That’s absolutely powerful. And it really puts your guests at ease because they realize it’s okay for them to pause too. So leading the way, setting the pace. Now, like I said, some people they’re going to start talking to never stop and listening. Won’t be the problem. Like you won’t even be able to get a word in edgewise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, yes, you’d need to, you know, facilitate a conversation, but, uh, yeah, you gotta meet the person where they’re at. So tip number five is once the interview is complete and I know it’s easy to overlook this because you’re like, what do you mean? Like the interview’s done? How are you still being a great host at that point? Well, actually if you end the interview and you stick around for a minute, like you probably do and say, thank you so much gratitude, acknowledgement, you know, any housekeeping items that may have come up, it’s also really powerful to ask the guest how you can support them.
So it’s pretty natural. Most of the time, probably towards the end of the interview or some point during the conversation, you’ve talked about what they’re up to, right? Like that’s probably why you have them on the show because they’re up to something. So you’ve probably already touched on their project or their book or their course, or like the thing they’re up to, but never take for granted that that’s what they need support with. It’s very powerful. Once you’ve finished the episode, thank them for their time to then say, how can I support you? And honestly just leave it out there and let them respond. However they will. Some people might be taken off guard because they’re not used to being asked that, but it’s really powerful. And oftentimes you might be surprised at the answer if they might say like, wow, thank you so much.
Well, you know, I’ve got this thing coming out. So like, if you want to share it, I mean that that’s totally normal and that’s like a great, but sometimes they might surprise you and say something like, well actually I’ve been looking for someone who’s an expert in this, or I have this trip coming up and I’m going to be in this city. And I’m hoping to connect with someone about this. Do you know anyone? It might be something like, Hey, I’ve really loved what you did with your setup today. Like, can you connect me with your X, Y, or Z, right. Producer editor, what kind of equipment was this? What’s this platform. It might actually be a question about the experience you created. Um, it could be anything you don’t know until you ask. So that’s the tip number five, be sure to ask. Of course, sometimes, you know, you may just have no time left and they’ve got to run.
So that’s, you may do this in a follow up, text or email, but hopefully ideally you have the time you say your thank yous and then you say, how can I support you? I want to support you. What have you got going on? And listen to the answer and obviously follow through with what they ask, you know, whatever you can offer, even if it’s just your, your time, your energy promoting them. That makes a really beautiful impact on the guest is kind of like a bow on top to the whole experience. And it really helps you stand out as someone who genuinely wanted to support them, which as we all know, goes a long way in today’s world, it’s not just empty words and that’s a way to be quite truly a rockstar host. So Tiff, any final words of wisdom before we wrap up?
I mean, I think we already said it, but just give yourself some grace, you know, especially when you’re starting out, if you’re new, uh, what I like to suggest to people is to have in your view, solo pattern of a show, the more you practice when you’re getting to the beginning, middle and end and you know, having a good, valuable show by yourself. I think it’s also helps when you have someone in front of you, when you’re talking about a particular topic, the more you practice at any of this, the better you get. Christine has seen me, like not be able to get through an entire episode sometimes just trying to practice at this at hosting, uh, you know, and we pass the mic back and forth to each other. We’re, you know, we’re, we’re learning as we go as well. And so I just want to make sure that I bring that up to people.
We know a lot. We’ve been in the industry for a long time, but to be in front of the camera, to be in front of the mic can be an intimidating place. So this is just, you know, tips, little encouragement corner to give yourself some grace practice, practice, practice, maybe start out with some people, you know, already and move into new guests and new people you haven’t heard of before. And maybe the last bonus tip I’ll give too. No one says that this has to be the only time you interviewed that person. So, you know, we worked on plenty of shows where people have come back and had a follow up or, you know, they’d done something different and they’re promoting something else and they need to get on podcasts and do their little podcast tour and go around to different people. So maybe also don’t feel like you have to get everything out in that interview and that you have to ask every question, that burning question, give yourself almost that like confidence in yourself that you’ll be able to bring this person back because they’ve had such a good interview with you right now.
They’d be willing to come back in six months or a year and talk more about a different topic or the same topic even further. Those are my last couple of couple of tips there.
I love that. That was an excellent bonus tip that you shared. All right. Thank you so much for listening or watching this episode. We want to hear your questions. So please continue to send them in, follow us at think like a producer on Instagram, subscribe to the podcast on your favorite listening platform. Definitely subscribe to the YouTube channel. Uh, we absolutely love it. When you leave us a rating or review on Apple podcasts, it’s super helps us with understanding what you want and what you enjoy about the show, but also in helping other people find the show because it gives a lot of credibility. So thank you in advance for leaving us a rating and review, and we will see you next time on think like a producer.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Think Like a Producer. This has been a Worthfull Media production. Massive thanks to our team who makes the show possible. Worthfull Media for audio editing, Jorge and Veronica from Mosaico Productions for video editing and effects and Amela Subasic for our amazing artwork and graphics.
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