The Five Dangerous Mistakes Beginner Hosts Unknowingly Make (And How to Avoid Them)

You’ve started on a path toward becoming a great host. You’re feeling excited and full of optimism. Until, slowly but surely you start to worry about all the things than can go astray, especially if you’ve never started a show or podcast before. The fear of making a mistake may even prevent you from getting started. But that fear of failure shouldn’t immobilize you – take heed the words of Dale Carnegie, who once said that “the successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.

But despite the virtues of perseverance, are mistakes an unavoidable “companion” on the path to success? And the short answer is no. Truth be told, it’s not always as easy to learn from one’s setbacks or challenges as it’s all too often portrayed to be. As Otto von Bismarck once remarked, “fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others experience.

In this article, we’ll help you do precisely that – to profit from others experience – by sharing with you the five common mistakes beginners (and even seasoned broadcasters) make on their shows and podcasts. Naturally, you’ll also learn how to avoid them.

Mistake #1 – Ranting About Irrelevant Things

Listeners form a lasting impression of a show in the span of a few minutes, if not seconds. Therefore, it’s paramount that you get to the point and dive into the content as quickly as possible. Giggling and talking about unrelated material – a common rookie mistake – is a surefire way to lose a listener forever. Stay professional and give listeners what they want – engaging, fresh, and relevant content. (By the way, apologizing for being late or not releasing an episode on time is a no-no as well).

Mistake #2 – Having Poor Quality Sound

In this day and age, listeners expect a high-quality of sound. In general, you should avoid using simple USB headsets and built-in laptop mics and instead you should employ a dynamic or condenser microphone. To learn more about the different mics and how to choose the select the right one for yourself, head over to our post that covers the topic in detail.

Mistake #3 – Engaging in Excessive Repetition (During Interviews)

Interviewing experts, thought leaders, and other authorities in an industry or niche is a great way to garner significant attention to a new show or podcast. But beginner hosts must be wary of an insidious mistake they commit all too often – needlessly repeating and re-interpreting the interviewee’s responses. In most cases, simply letting the answers “hang” is a much better approach than reciting what was said in order to “buy time.”

Mistake #4 – Not Thinking Long-Term

Although there is a set of common reasons why people decide to create a show or podcast, there are just as many personal ones. But before you take the plunge into the world of broadcasting, it’s essential that you consider these points:

a. Do you have a reliable evergreen source of content? (If the answer is no, that should be a redflag to you).

b. Are you truly passionate about the topic of your show? At the very least, are you passionate about the reason why you’ve decided to launch a show?

c. Will you be able to find, grow, and cultivate an audience? Can you spot a few viable marketing channels for your show? (Refer to this post to discover how to promote your show and grow your audience).

d. Does your show content align well with the particular monetization strategy you have in mind? We recently covered this issue in detail – click here to learn how to choose a topic that will make your show a success.

Mistake #5 – Thinking Great Design & Graphics Are Secondary

Design matters. A lot. That’s one of the many lessons lessons any broadcaster, host, or podcaster can learn from Apple. But to the detriment of listeners and content creators alike, host continue to launch websites with homemade and DIY graphics that do one thing well – scare website visitors away. Having good cover art is twice as important if you plan on recording and uploading show episodes into iTunes, which has strict requirements and high expectations of its podcasters. Here’s what iTunes has to say on the subject of cover art.

Additional Issues to Consider

Strictly speaking, it wouldn’t be correct to categorize the following points as mistakes. Yet, many hosts have trouble when dealing with them:

1. Having Confusing Episode Numbering

Although many hosts like to have a introduction (“zero”) episode, in most cases it’s better to simply start with episode ‘number one’.

2. Doing a Bad Job of “Promoting” Guests

when interviewing guests, don’t leave it up to them to introduce themselves to your audience. As the host, prepare a short snippet that informs the listeners how they can find out more about the person you’ve invited to your show.

3. Over-Preparing

A lot of beginners instinctively resort to creating long scripts and either memorizing them or reading them verbatim. In nine out of ten cases, this is neither effective for you as the host nor a pleasure to listen to. Resorting solely to improvisation isn’t a good idea either. Take the middle road and prepare anchor notes with key ideas, concepts, and issues that you’d like to cover during a given episode.

4. Using Sub-Par Hosting

Regular web hosts aren’t well-suited for streaming large audio files. If you plan to record and upload your episodes, consider using one of the “professional” podcast host services, like Libsyn and Blubrry. This won’t be as important an issue in the beginning, but you should pay careful attention to how your files are streaming as your audience grows.


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