Tips on filling the role that can make or break your series.
When it comes to your branded podcast, there are a lot of huge decisions to make. One of the most important ones is your choice of host.
Just like your logo, color scheme or brand name, this is not a matter to be taken lightly.
The frontperson you pick for your series will make a lasting impact, contributing to your brand identity and your reputation.
Clearly, you want their impact to be a positive one.
We understand that there’s a lot at stake here and that this choice can be intimidating. So, we’ve put together a guide on what we look for and how we choose the perfect podcast host.
You can find it below.
Personality is crucial and a great host has heaps of it. You should be looking for charisma, social skills, and magnetism.
Think of the kind of person you’re drawn to at a party. They make you feel seen, engage you in conversation, and know how to tell a great story — when it’s appropriate.
You shouldn’t be looking for a domineering class clown. Watch out for show boats that might monopolize conversation or steamroll your guests.
Avoid the folks who seek attention, and focus on those who attract it.
Building on the last point, a great host should be as good at listening as they are at speaking — if not better.
Don’t get us wrong. When they have something meaningful to contribute, or a thoughtful question to pose, they should go for it.
That said, there will be many times when the most powerful thing they can do is be quiet — and leave the floor to your featured guest.
Your podcast frontperson should know when to pipe up and pipe down for maximum success.
A professional host should also be patient.
They need to understand that a great podcast is exceptionally produced and come prepared to do what it takes to get it right.
Sometimes, this means two, four, even ten takes of the same line of narration. They should be ready to bring their best energy and attitude, even on the ninth try.
Your host should also be believable. No matter how many takes, no matter how many lines.
A great host has voice acting skills. They can make scripted material feel organic, warm, and conversational. These are the qualities that set podcasts apart, afterall.
Your listeners should never feel like they’re at a third-grade play or listening to a radio ad.
A good host should be flexible and able to take direction.
You want someone who is eager to receive feedback, and prepared to work with your producer to achieve your brand’s desired result.
They will need to adapt their delivery to the content at hand and, if they fail to do so, your series can feel unengaging or tone deaf.
Quick wit is an absolute must. A smart sense of humour goes a long way.
So does insightful commentary, and the ability to understand and break down complex topics so they’re easy for your audience to digest.
The intelligent host will also come prepared. They will always do their own research on both your topic and your guest.
Going one step further, a great host should also have exceptional EQ.
They may have to navigate deep emotional waters, and should know how to do so with sensitivity and poise.
They should not freeze up when things get heavy. They should be prepared to ask tough questions, and handle difficult subjects with sensitivity and respect.
This certainly isn’t a must — but it’s not a bad idea to pick a host with a large owned audience that’s appropriate for your brand.
When you do this, your series is likely to benefit from their existing audience. And as such, so is your brand.
It’s a huge perk if your host is already well versed in the topics your series covers.
While an exceptional host can dive into just about any topic with ease, a base-level (or advanced) understanding of your subject area is a major asset.
Does your host need to have the perfect radio voice? No.
That said, they should bring the tone and delivery required for a great listening experience.
Of course, this is subjective. But it’s important to pick a frontperson whose sound fits your content and your audience.
You probably wouldn’t pick Morgan Freeman for a scrapbooking podcast, in other words. Nicole Kidman might not be the right fit for that extreme-sport series, either.
A word on diversity
That said, who are we to decide what Morgan Freeman or Nicole Kidman should be talking about, really?
We are all for diversity no matter the subject matter, and there are no hard-and-fast rules here.
For this reason, we always bring a wide variety of host suggestions to our clients. It’s important to our team (and society) that we include demographics that might otherwise be marginalized in their space.
Consider diverging from the status quo. How might you pick a person appropriate for your brand while creating change and opportunity?
What about internal hosts?
Many brands approach us with plans to use an internal host — someone from their company that they’d like to elect as a frontperson for their series.
This is sometimes a good idea, but can be a bit tricky.
Usually, brands push for an internal host for three reasons — cost, convenience, and trust.
Sure, they seem like perfectly good reasons at first glance. Let’s take a closer look.
Choosing a host that’s already on your payroll seems like a great idea, right? Maybe not.
The real cost is hidden when it comes to an internal host. Using someone from your team will be a drain on time and resources — especially if said host is usually a key player.
Time is money and a podcast is a huge undertaking. Extra duties really add up.
Some clients believe that an internal host is a better choice when it comes to logistics. Again, probably not.
To put it bluntly, a host who is also the VP of Sales rarely has time to devote to the serious business of hosting. They will also face constant distractions from their primary role.
So, these “perks” might not be what they seem — but what about trust?
A host from your team knows your brand. They understand confidentiality and are invested in your mission, vision, and purpose. For these reasons, your trust in them is probably high.
That said, in an audience member’s mind, trust tends to go down with internal hosts.
They are more likely to view the host as “someone trying to sell them something” — and your podcast as a drawn-out ad.
(In case it’s not obvious, this isn’t what you want. But it happens. You can explore this and other common podcast mistakes here.)
The perfect host
Clearly, this is a lot to consider. Trust us, we know.
Researching, vetting, interviewing, and training hosts is a huge job — all of which has to happen before you press record.
Just like hosting, this might be a task better left to someone outside of your company. Someone who has the time, energy, and expertise to find you the perfect host.
If you’d like to work with someone who does this like it’s their job (because it is), we’ve got a few experts on hand. Don’t be afraid to reach out.