Make your guests look good to turn their followers into repeat listeners.
Too many hosts screw this up.
They book a great guest, then proceed to do stupid things that destroy an interview and annoys their followers.
Many of you seem to have a misconception that as a host you have to be equal to your guest’s abilities.
You feel a need to be able to “keep up” with the person you’re interviewing. You fear your audience will see your’re not as funny or smart. You see their expertise as a challenge. Because of this, there is too much YOU on the show. This all stems from a fear of being upstaged.
Here are examples. Say you have a comedian on the show, and you end up doing your best to be just as funny. Say your guest is an expert on something, causing you to throw in things you’ve researched that you think will make you look look already informed.
But what if the research you’ve done is wrong? What if your jokes aren’t funny?
It’s the wrong way to think about it. Instead, try not to outdo your guest. And here’s why.
It’s important to realize that a guest adds value to your show and your name. If Robin Williams had come on your show and ranted for 10 minutes, and you didn’t say a word, what would people remember? They would remember that Robin Williams was on YOUR show. YOU would get credit for the 10 minutes of hilarity they just heard. And let’s face it, there’s no way in hell you could have kept up with him.
Same with Neil Degrasse Tyson. Could you really keep up with him? But if you let him dazzle you with information on the cosmos, what will people remember? They’ll remember he was on YOUR show. People will remember that you add value to their lives by talking with interesting guests.
Plus, if people do a search for the great guest you’ve booked, it’s an opportunity to gain another listener. They may find they enjoy your show, and will come back for others. But if there’s too much YOU, they may get annoyed by how you handled “their” star, and then you’ve lost them.
Let your guests shine. It costs you nothing.
Now I’m not saying to give your guest carte blanche. If they say something you need to challenge, then challenge them. If you truly know as much about a topic and you have an opposing opinion, then feel free to debate. But if you know as much as your guest, why are you having them on?
On the opposite end, when looking for experts, try not to book guests who know less than you.
That may lead to you belittling or criticizing your guest, and you’ll look like a jerk or a bully. Would you want someone to make you feel stupid in front of other people? Even if the guest has an opposing opinion than yours, your goal for the interview should be to learn why they think the way they do. You can always give a rebuttal after.
Don’t be afraid to remain silent.
Let your guest say what you invited them on the show to say, without constantly interrupting them.
Make them look good. Ask them questions in their wheelhouse, ones they can answer with confidence and authority. Help them show everyone why they’re the expert.
And here’s a neat trick. Try adding an extra beat of silence at the end of a question. Odds are good the guest will want to fill that silence, and may suddenly say something they weren’t expecting to say, and that can lead to a great talk.
Don’t waste the interview playing games.
I’ve heard shows that booked a great guest, but used this time to only involve them in their gimmicky features, so we didn’t learn much about them. If you must do this, do a short interview first! Ellen DeGeneres is an expert at this. While her show is not my cup of tea, I do admire her skill with handling guests.
The bottom line is, if they look good, you look good.
I am a 30-year major market veteran of radio and other media, with over a dozen years hosting morning shows, and another dozen as a journalist. My goal is to share the soft skills needed to be successful in podcasting and broadcasting. If you want to be notified when I post, click here.
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