Make Your Listener The Star

by Erik K. Johnson

Make your listener the star.  It is your show.  You know the plot.  When listeners are involved in your show, it is always your job to lead your guest and make them the star.

There are many ways to incorporate your listeners into your show.  Live interviews, live calls, recorded voicemail messages, and e-mail are a free of the possibilities.  Incorporating listeners into your podcast gives  your entire audience a vested interest in the show.

With guests, you must remember you always know more about your show than they know.  You know the goals of your show.  You know the plot and strategy.  You are always on the show.  They are new.  Lead your guest.

Phrases like “great question”, “I’m glad you mentioned that” and “I didn’t realize that” make your guest feel they are adding to the show … as long as you are authentic and sincere in your comments.  It also make you look unselfish.

Financial guru and radio host Dave Ramsey is great at guiding his listeners.  When a caller begins to ramble on, Dave will always step in with, “How can I best help you today?”  That is a great way to say, “Get to the point.”  You need to remember that your callers are not professional broadcasters.  They are not sure how to adequately edit their question while still providing all of the necessary details.

Edit your content to make your listener look good.  Just as you do not need to answer every e-mail you receive on your show, you do not need to read the entire e-mail either.  When you are using voicemail and e-mail questions, edit them before you use them.  Keep the essence of the question while eliminating the unnecessary details.  Nobody will fault you for editing a 4-minute voicemail message to a great 30 seconds.  In fact, they will probably thank you.  The edited call is still the call as long as you aren’t changing their words and intentions.  Your show is entertainment.  Edit is as such.

When interviewing a well-known guest, make it easy for them.  Open with great questions for which you already know the answer.  Talk hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman have producers that do a pre-interview with their guests.  They will ask their guest, “If (host) asks you about ____, what will you say?”  The producer then puts the great questions on the blue cards for the host.  The host may not know the answers, but the guest is prepared for the question.

If  you know your guest has done some amazing things, ask them about it.  Then, let them answer.  I hear so many hosts interview guests as if they are trying to show the guest how much they actually know.  In turn, they answer the question as they are asking it.  “You just released a book detailing ways to reduce your work week by half by outsourcing many of your tasks to companies like X, Y and Z.  It has already sold 100,000 copies.  That’s great.  Tell us about it.”

This poses 3 problems.  First, the guest now has very little to say.  The question was already answered.  Second, the host looks like a know-it-all.  Finally, what’s the point of having the guest on the show if you already have all of the answers?

Let your guest shine.  Lob them softballs that they can hit out of the park.  You will look brilliant for asking such fantastic questions.  Your guest will love being part of your show, because you make them look so good.

You and your show become great when you make your guests and listeners the star.