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To co-host or not to co-host?

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To co-host or not to co-host? | PodSchool Podcast

It’s all fun and games until somebody gets annoying.

Working with a co-host can be one of life’s great joys….if it’s the right person.  If it’s the wrong person it can be as fun as performing surgery on yourself with a corkscrew.

When you’re thinking about starting a podcast, working with someone can seem like an easy option, especially if you’ve never hosted anything before.  After all, sitting across from another warm body means you don’t have to deal with the awkwardness of presenting a show in an empty room.

But while there are plenty of advantages to having a podcasting partner in crime, there are a few things you should consider before jumping in the deep end…

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Is your potential co-host afraid of commitment?

When you ask someone “Would you like to do a podcast with me?” the answer will almost always be “YES!”  Why?  Because it sounds exciting!

This is often because people have a romantic view of what it’ll be like.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to chat with one of their closest mates once a week and entertain hoards of fans on the internet?  Problem is those hoards can take a while to show up..if they show up at all.

If you’re one of those exceptions to the rule who has a flood of listeners rolling through the door in a short space of time this might not be a problem.  But if those hoards are taking their sweet time to turn up the only way to make sure they find you is to keep delivering quality content, week in week out, even if your only listener is your mum.

Podcasting to no one can be a pretty soul-destroying experience so you HAVE TO make sure you’re sitting across from someone who thinks “I’d be doing this even if your mum wasn’t listening.”

Both you and your co-host need to that fire in your belly to keep the dream alive so make sure you hitch yourself to someone with as much passion for the project as you.  Someone who WANTS to do the show and enjoys putting it together even if no one is turning up.

Don’t let your chemistry make you lazy

Great chemistry is a blessing and a curse. With many shows, the relationship between co-hosts is what people get attached to.  So if you’re lucky enough to find someone you bounce off in a way that excites both you and your listeners then grab that person and hold on tight.

But, while this is great you need to be careful you don’t get complacent.  One of the great things about working with someone you have great chemistry with is that on your off days, you can still find a way to deliver great content because you pick up each other’s slack, but sometimes it’s easy to rely on that.

Just because you’ve got someone to lean on doesn’t mean you don’t need to do as much work preparing and planning each show and at the end of the day while chemistry is amazing and a rare thing it can’t be the only thing you give your listeners.  If it is, they’ll stay for a while but they’ll eventually realise this is more about you than it is about them.

Don’t forget who you’re doing the show for

When you’re doing a show with a co-host it can be easy to forget about the audience.

While it’s great to engage and entertain your co-host, if you focus too much on them it’s easy to make the listener feel left out.  I’ve heard some shows do 15 minutes of ‘talking amongst themselves’ before they’ve even gotten to their content and while it might feel fun at the time, to the listener it feels like they’re back in the playground being ignored by the cool group.

Even if you don’t mean to be self-indulgent it’s easy to sound that way when you’re with a co-host so don’t forget about the people you’re there to serve.

But what if I really really really want a co-host?

Well, if you’re this far through this post and still keen as mustard to work with a co-host here are a few ways to get the most out of that arrangement…

Use hand signals

While some people think waving your hands around in a studio is only for those who’ve still got the audio training wheels on, using hand signals is the mark of a true professional.

To make a show sound professional with co-hosts, the conversation has to be seamless.  There shouldn’t be any moments where you’re talking over each other and when one person finishes a sentence the next should effortlessly start.  The best way to achieve this, even if you’ve been working with someone for a long time, is with hand signals.

Often when you’re recording a show an idea will strike you while someone else is talking. The natural response is to interject so you don’t miss the opportunity to offer up your piece of conversational gold.  And while this is fine in the pub when you’re chatting with your mates, in a podcast it sounds messy.

So when inspiration strikes while your co-host is mid-way through a monologue, a subtle raise of the hand will let them know “when you’re done, I’ve got something to add to that.”

That way they can finish their train of thought secure in the knowledge they’re not going to be trampled all over.  And when they’re done a subtle point your way can indicate it’s your turn to take the stage.

To people who can’t see what’s going on, it’ll sound like perfect conversational simpatico even if it looks like you’re trying to direct a plane.

Put in equal effort

Nothing breeds resentment like one person showing up for an hour a week to record and doing absolutely nothing outside of that.

There’s a lot of work that goes into a podcast from planning, recording, editing, uploading and engaging your audience via social media so it’s important to have a discussion at the beginning to work out who’s doing what.

If your co-host is happy to edit the show (which can take A LOT of time) then make sure you’re picking up the slack somewhere else.  For the show to be at it’s best every week, it’s important you both feel like equal partners and no one feels like they’re carrying the weight alone.

Your number one goal should be to make your co-host sound amazing

This is the single most important rule when working with co-hosts and one I swear by.

If you have two or three people in a show and everybody’s individual goal is to make the other people in the room sound like they’re on fire (not literally) and support them and keep the ball up in the air, then as a team you can never lose.

The show will always be good if you are looking out for the people you are with and listeners LOVE to hear people in their ears who clearly respect each other and enjoy doing a show.

Your audience is going to smell it a mile away if your MO is to be the person that speaks the most, or who gets the most points across or has the last laugh all the time and it really isn’t great to listen to.

But if you’re committed to the team win then your show will be so much better and it’ll also be a joy to work on because nothing feels better than people who’ve got your back.

So, find someone who ticks all those boxes and you’ve got the perfect person to be by your side as you leap off the podcasting cliff (hopefully to a better end than Thelma and Louise).

Got a burning question you’d like answered on the podcast? Send me an email.

Need some help getting started or setting up your home studio?  Download my free podcasting guide.

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WANT TO START A PODCAST BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW? THIS GUIDE TAKES YOU THROUGH ALL THE TOOLS AND TECH YOU NEED TO GET GOING!

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