11 Big No-Nos to Avoid When Hosting a Professional Podcast
When I started podcasting, like many new podcasters, I didn't know what I was getting into. Though I'd been blogging a while, I didn't know what protocols, procedures or processes (are those the same thing?) went into producing a show.
Most people don't know this, but I made some pretty big mistakes when starting out. One was pretty stupid. Another a newby-mistake. Others still were just plain no-nos in the professional world.
In one of my first episodes, while in the flow of Q&A, I asked a blind man about the last movie he saw.
In another, I recorded an entire episode with, not my Blue Yeti microphone, but with the mic built into my laptop which was closed and docked under my monitor. When I listened to the recording I was horrified!
While we can't eliminate all mistakes, and we certainly shouldn't wait to get started until we do (because you can't), there are some no-nos for hosting a podcast we can avoid.
11 Big No-Nos to Avoid When Hosting a Professional Podcast
Don't ask for a photo or headshot
Whoever initiated the interview should supply the pictures. If you've invited someone on your show, don't ask them for a picture. I sometime spend 30 minutes sifting through social media profiles looking for the perfect picture.
Some people may call it stalking; I call it research!
In all seriousness, searching for the perfect image is on my list of things that are a “labor of love” when it comes to producing my show. The right image can really show a lot about the guest and their story.
Plus, while searching, I learn more about them and gain a new level of appreciation for their time. Also, most people with websites have a photo they approve of, and that you can download, somewhere on their site.
Don't ask for a bio
For the love of Pete, don't ask your guests to send you a bio. If you can't write one in 30 seconds, you're not prepared and you shouldn't have them on your show.
Almost every good website will have an “About” page. Pull a quick bio from there. If all else fails, write out 50 words on why you wanted your guest on your show in the first place. Whatever caught your attention will catch the attention of your audience.
If you plan on being a guest on the shows of others, I'd suggest you write up a 60, 90 and 150 word bio you can send. By creating the blurb yourself, you can control what people see.
I store mine in Evernote for a quick copy and paste:
Ellory is a personal business coach specializing in effective and efficient ways to get entrepreneurs off the ground. Ellory shares his knowledge and expertise with the readers on his blog and the listeners of his podcast. If you want to get your business started, connect with Ellory and joining his community.
Don't ask to reschedule
Above all else, respect the time of your guest. Time is one of our most valuable resources, and your guest is giving you some of theirs. Don't reschedule unless it's absolutely necessary.
Don't send people a scheduling link and not have an updated calendar
It's too easy to check your links and sync your calendar to send someone outdated information. If you send someone a link to schedule a time that works for them, the burden is on you to make sure your calendar is up to date.
Double check the links your send. Double check the links in your email signature. Technology is great when it works. Make sure it's working for you and not against you.
Don't ask for website links
The only time you should ask your guest for a URL is at the end of the episode when you have your guest share where listeners can find them. Other than that, don't do it.
With a couple exceptions. A few times my guests have mentioned a specific URL they couldn't remember. When I couldn't find it myself, I had to ask them for help.
If you have a guest on your show, know where to find them on the internet. And, that includes their social profiles. Most “online people”, the ones who tend to pop up on podcasts, are easy to find. Don't ask your guests for a link to their Twitter profile just so you don't have to look for it.
Don't ask the guest to adapt to your technology
While Skype is the “industry standard” for podcasting, it's not the only option. Nor is it something non-podcasters use on a regular basis. Before starting my show, I didn't even have Skype installed on my computer.
One big advantage to Skype is that you can call phone numbers with it using Skype Credits. For mere pennies, you can dial a phone number and your guest doesn't have to install any software or remember their password. Everyone has a phone, not everyone has Skype.
Another tool I've started using in my coaching business is Zoom. You can record with the click of a button. Zoom also has a call-in feature if you want to give your guests a phone number and meeting ID to punch in.
Make it easy for your guests to be on your show. Don't make them bend over backwards.
Don't act like you're doing the guest a favor (unless you are)
Whenever I'm a guest on a podcast, I consider it an honor. I get exposure to a new audience and I get to meet someone new. I've even got new coaching clients by being a guest. Pretty cool!
I've also been interviewed by people who acted like they couldn't care less that I was spending time with them.
You know how you can tell when someone is smiling on the other end of the phone?
Ya, it was like that. Except the opposite.
Podcasters, as a community, are a generous and giving group of people. Give more than you receive, and don't act like you're blessing your guest with holy water just by having them on your show.
If you're not interested, your audience won't be either. This isn't Corporate America! No one is forcing you to do something you don't want to do, and that includes interviewing guests you don't want to interview.
Don't waste your guest's time
Most conversations have a natural flow to them. There's an intro, a “Wow, can you believe that?“, and an “I'll see you later” moment.
In television, when the conversation is over but the show is still on the air, they call it “jumping the shark.” Things should have ended but they didn't, and quality starts taking a hit.
There are episodes of many podcasts that jump the shark. Don't keep asking questions when it's clear that the story is over.
If your show is normally an hour, but your guest only has 30 minutes, either fill the rest of the time with tips, or just cut it short.
My show lengths have ranged from 12 minutes to over an hour. Each time I try to maximize the value of the episode. I try to honor the time my guests give me while at the same time squeezing every ounce of time I can out of them.
Don't ask the guest to introduce themselves
Some of the most fun I've had as a podcast guest was when the host gave me a rock-star introduction. Not only did I feel like a celebrity worth a million bucks, but I could tell the host really wanted me there.
The bests hosts create their own intros that pulls in their listeners. I'll admit, I drop the ball on this more often than I'd like to own up to.
By introducing the guest yourself, you can direct the rest of the conversation. You can also highlight the most exciting points you'd like to cover and set up the episode for success.
When I asked the podcasting community about no-nos to avoid, they offered me these last two:
Don't blind-side your guests
Tough questions are great, questions for shock value aren't. You aren't Dateline or Barbara Walters, so don't act like you're trying to uncover a conspiracy.
I love getting tough questions. A good question can make the guest really think and can inspire an audience.
Mike Sutton of BeBuildHave.com has had me on his show a couple times. He is a wonderful interviewer! The last time he had me on, Mike asked me questions in a way that led me to new realizations about my past that I'd never thought about before.
Great questions can do that. Questions that blind-side your guests will get you nowhere and may even come back to bite you.
There's a fine-line between the two, but I know you can make it work.
Don't stick to a script
Having a point to focus on is great, but don't ask questions because you think you have to. Scripts are out, real conversations are in.
Go into an interview with a goal but leave the script at home.
A master at this is my friend Chris Cerrone. He has an agenda but embraces free-flow conversation.
By allowing yourself the flexibility to ask follow-up questions, you can get to the heart of an issue. When you ask questions like a curious listener, you not only connect better with your guest, but you add more value to the audience.
That said, asking the same question to every guest is pretty fun too.
A master at this is my friend Jared Easley. He asks every guest about their favorite concert. By breaking up the typical interview flow with this seemingly random question, Jared gets to know his guests in a fun way. In fact, Jared's concert question is where I got the idea for my “last movie you saw” question. Thanks Jared!
And there you have it! 11 Big No-Nos for hosting a podcast. Avoid these things and you'll get off to a great start.
Make being a guest easy and fun. Treat your guest like you want to be treated and you'll fit right in with this fantastic community.