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The PodSchool Podcast | The art of podcast presenting

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How to host a podcast

As a podcast presenter, you want your audience to feel like you’re having a natural conversation with them.  To do that you’ve got to strike a balance between ‘conversation’ and ‘performance.’

The Holy Grail of podcast hosting is when your audience says “I feel like I know you” or “When I listen to your podcast it feels like I’m listening to a friend.”

The only way to make your audience feel that way is to speak to them in a way that feels comfortable, relaxed and familiar.

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Don’t forget you’re hosting a show

When you’re broadcasting ‘live’ from your bedroom it’s easy to forget you’re actually performing to an audience because there’s no one there to bounce off.

Often this means you won’t inject as much energy into your voice as you would if there was someone else in the room and as a result, you can sound flat.

To really capture the attention of an audience and keep them engaged you need to present your podcast with a lot of energy so it’s important to think of it like a performance, even if you’re sitting in your PJ’s talking to a wall.

That doesn’t mean you need to roll into your listener’s ears like Richard Simmons on crack.  But you do need to inject a bit more power, emphasis and excitement into your voice than you would if you were talking to your mates at the pub.

When you’re presenting your podcast think of the presenter version of yourself as you with 25% extra sprinkle on top.  That additional energy you inject into your voice might feel funny when you’re on your own but it will “burn off” by the time it gets to your listeners. 

Get the balance right and what they’ll hear is a confident podcast host who’s in control but still relaxed, calm and conversational.

How to keep an audience engaged when podcasting solo

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Practice makes perfect

Practice will help you find the balance between sounding natural and performing when you’re hosting your show.

Play around with different levels of energy and listen back to yourself critically to work out where you need to be to engage your listeners while still sounding relaxed.

Nobody likes the sound of their own voice but if you’re going to host a podcast, listening back will help you improve much faster than if you let your show go out into the world without listening to a single episode.

Over time you’ll start to naturally feel where you need to be when you’re presenting but until you get to that point practice makes perfect!

Got a burning podcasting question you’d like answered? Send me an email.

Want to start your own podcast but need a little help?  Download my “How To Start A Podcast” guide or sign up for my online podcasting course, PodSchool.

Got some time on your hands? Read the full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to the PodSchool podcast. My name is Rachel Corbett and each week on this show I'm going to be giving you one simple actionable tip that will help improve the quality of your podcast. And this week it is all about the art of performance - how wanky. That, however, is the goal...not to be wanky. When you're podcasting, just as in radio, the goal is to sound like you're having a conversation with the person listening on the other end. You desperately want those e-mails from listeners that say "Oh my goodness it feels like you're speaking just to me. I feel like you and I are old mates." That is the holy grail of audience connection and the way to do that is to be natural and be yourself. But it is very important to remember that a podcast is a 'show' and you have to treat it as such. You don't need to roll in like Richard Simmons or get the jazz hands out or the Guy Smiley sprinkle. But there is a little additional bit of power and emphasis and excitement in your voice that you need to put in there when you're doing a podcast. The truth is that when it gets to the listener it will have burnt off. But you need to be a little bit more energetic to make sure that you're engaging and interesting to the person who's listening to you. If you talk at the normal conversational tone that you would normally talk with people at the cafe it's just not going to grab people. It's a really subtle change and if you start to be a bit more conscious of it you will naturally adjust. Often because a lot of podcasts are just one person and a microphone it can be very unnatural to talk to nobody and to try and get that natural conversational tone in your voice because there's no other human sitting across from you. There's no other warm body to react to. So it's really important that you try and get as much of that energy into your voice as possible without overdoing it because nothing turns people off quite like that. Your content obviously is so important in a show but so is the way that you draw your listeners in and that is going to come entirely down to your performance and how you engage your audience. So remember when you are podcasting it's a show even though it's not in a radio studio and you're not on a commercial radio network. It is still really important that it sounds polished and the way to do that is to really perform but to be conscious of the fact that you still need to sound natural.
Give it a try and record some stuff. This is the great joy of podcasting - you can give it 98 thousand cracks and nobody has to hear anything but the one take that worked, so play around with different styles of performance and listen to your show critically. That's a really important part of the process of becoming a better performer - going through that painful process that none of us like of listening to ourselves on tape. When you listen to yourself critically you will pick up certain things that you didn't notice before. When I first started in radio when I was 20 I had the worst laugh of all time. I sounded like a donkey choking because I had never really thought about how my laugh sounded when it got to people's ears because it never really mattered. It doesn't matter when you're in the pub or when you're talking to mates but when you're actually in people's ear holes in this much of an intimate way, that stuff matters so listen back to yourself and be critical about that and think "Does this sound a bit dull?" and if it does just try and amp it up a couple of degrees to make that difference.
It's not just you yapping into a microphone or recording yourself for posterity. It's you engaging an audience and performing to them so it's really important to do that to connect.
And that's it for today's episode. You can always head to podschoolpodcast.com to find the show notes for each episode. There's a contact bar there and I would love it if you have a specific question if you send me an email and I'll answer it on the podcast and let you know when your question is featured. You can also head to PodSchool.com.au. That's my online podcasting course where I go through everything step by step from the very beginning of creating an idea all the way to turning your podcast into a business.
Next week on the show I'm going to be talking about the most important word you can use in your podcast to connect with your audience. So don't forget to subscribe to the show and I'll hopefully see you next week. Until then happy podcasting.

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Discover all the tools and tech you need to get your podcast started. Plus get access to my weekly podcasting tips delivered straight to your inbox!

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