May 16, 2022

JF2813: 19 Ways to Add Value to a Podcast as a Host or Guest | Round Table


In this episode of the Best Ever Round Table, Ash, Slocomb, and Travis take turns sharing their experiences as both hosts and guests on podcasts. Based on what they have learned, they highlight the best ways to deliver value in both roles:


Delivering Value as a Podcast Host

  • Make sure you’re running the show by directing the conversation to ensure that every minute of the interview will be valuable to your listeners.
  • Go in with as much organization as possible — have a template and defined time frame.
  • Have questions proactively written and prepared.
  • Research your guest as much as possible before the interview.
  • Set expectations with your guest up front — if you only have 30 minutes, for example, make sure they are aware of the time frame and agree not to fill up the entire time slot with one story. 
  • Make sure you have high energy that comes across in your voice throughout the interview. Keep a caffeinated beverage on hand, or try standing during the interview.
  • Try to avoid using the same word or words repetitively. 
  • If you need to switch gears or move on to a new topic, one way to redirect the conversation is by interjecting to agree with the guest, then introducing the new topic. For example: “Yeah, I agree with you — the economy is going to change! What was your first deal like?”
  • If possible, hire an experienced producer to edit each episode by cutting out pauses and side conversation wherever necessary.
  • Avoid using filler words like “so” by replacing them with the guest’s name. 
  • In fact, make sure to use the guest’s name consistently as you address them throughout the interview. 
  • Ask your guest to speak about their failures and setbacks. If possible, let them know ahead of time that you will be touching on this topic.
  • Provide a succinct summary of the conversation for listeners as a way to close the interview. 


Delivering Value as a Podcast Guest

  • Make sure you’re prepared — that includes making sure you have a good mic, good lighting, and good talking points planned in advance.
  • Get a good night’s sleep before the interview.
  • Speak slowly, and don’t cut off the host mid-question. 
  • Share authentic, vulnerable aspects of your story to connect with listeners. Be willing to talk about your failures and setbacks and how you overcame them, and don’t attempt to self-promote until you’ve done so. 
  • That said, when you share your story, make sure it’s something listeners will be able to relate to. 
  • Go into the interview with the ultimate goal to teach and connect with listeners. 


PLUS: Click here to listen to Ash’s first interview as a guest on the Best Ever Show.



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Ash Patel: Hello Best Ever, listeners. Welcome to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I'm Ash Patel and I'm with my co-hosts, Slocomb Reed and Travis Watts. Today we're doing another roundtable discussion. Today we're going to deep-dive into both being interviewed for a podcast and interviewing others for a podcast. Both of these gentlemen have been interviewed on other people's podcasts, so I'm going to start with a question. Slocomb, do you remember the first podcast that you were interviewed on?

Slocomb Reed: I do. Hey, Best Ever listeners. Slocomb Reed, apartment owner-operator and the newest of the Best Ever podcast hosts. I believe I've been on the fewest podcasts as well. I do remember, it was just last year.

Ash Patel: How did that experience go? You were nervous leading up to it, I'm assuming...

Slocomb Reed: Oh, yeah. I showed up way early, amped up on a Red Bull...

Ash Patel: How was the performance?

Slocomb Reed: I think it went well, all things considered. I think it was well-received. Based on the advice that I had gotten, I focused on adding value where possible; what is it that I know needs to be shared? And I think it was well-received.

Ash Patel: Awesome. Travis, your first podcast and you've done a ton of them. How well prepared were you? How did it go? How nervous were you?

Travis Watts: Yeah, funny story. I did a one-off podcast way, way, way back when I was investing in single-family homes and before the affiliation with Joe Fairless, well before these syndications that I do today and being a full-time passive investor... And I was super-unprepared. I couldn't believe that I was asked to be interviewed. [laughs] And so everything about that episode was pretty much terrible. My microphone was terrible, the lighting was terrible, and everything I said was terrible. I kind of got a curveball, so to speak... But it's been a learning progress over the years. We were just talking before this, I've done over 100 at this point. I think like anything, you get better, you improve, you take notes... "How did that go? Terrible. What can I change and do better next time?" I think most of us can improve over time.

Ash Patel: You sound like an absolute pro right now. That's what it takes, just a lot of practice. I'll share my story. Joe Fairless interviewed me back in 2015. I was excited about the interview. Leading up to it, I was quite nervous. I tried to prepare as much as I could. I had numbers, narratives, and all the deals that I had done. Prepared to talk about all of the deals that I've done, my history, everything. All of that went out the window, because the night before, my wife had some colleagues over for dinner, and that ended up being like a three-in-the-morning night, and Joe's interview was as early as we can make it the next day, so I'm running on fumes... And I was super-nervous. I remember it was very painful to listen to the interview afterward. After the interview, I almost called him and asked if we can redo it. It was that bad. I remember I was very nervous, so I would talk fast. Then I would answer his questions before he even finished them. I was afraid of the pauses. Man, it was horrible. They must have done some crazy editing because it sounded a little better when I heard it, but it was not good. If we can reference that interview in the show notes, that'd be good. I'm not going to listen to it again, but... Yeah, it was not good, by anybody's account. So my next question is, you're all hosts of this podcast. Do you remember your first interview? How did it go? What was the big lesson learned from the first one?

Slocomb Reed: My first episode was probably the most recent, so I'll go first. My first episode was definitely the most recent. The biggest mistake I made was letting the guest lead the conversation. I let them ramble on in stories too long after -- to use too surgical of terms, but after the value had been extracted from the story and it was time to move on, I just let them keep going, because I thought it was a fun story.

That was the biggest thing, especially with a podcast our style, that's a shorter form, more commuter podcast... We need to be getting value from every minute of these interviews. So the biggest thing for me was making sure, I'm running the show, running the conversation, and making sure that we were adding value.

Ash Patel: Travis about your first interview.

Travis Watts: The first time I interviewed someone, I was probably equally as nervous. It's because of the unknowns. You don't know what the responses are going to be, you don't know when someone goes in a five-minute story, or if it drops off in 20 seconds, and then you're trying to fill some blank space, and things like that. I feel way more in control when I'm being interviewed, because I can just tell my story like it is, and take the time I need and stay on track.

I think the biggest takeaway for anyone who's going to be interviewing other people, to Slocomb's point - go into it with as much organization as you can. Have a template, have it defined, know your timeframe, stay on track, lead the conversation, and have questions proactively written or prepared, so that you're not going into it blind and caught with some awkward silences, or going over 40 minutes when it's a 20-minute podcast, or something like that.

Ash Patel: Man, you guys are pros, because my first week of interviews was just disastrous. So bad I got an email from Joe Fairless... It was a nice, long email where he critiqued a lot of things, but one of the biggest things he critiqued is my energy. I've gotta to tell you, you guys as podcast hosts, and listening to other people's podcasts, it doesn't seem that hard; it just seems like a natural conversation. But it's a lot harder than at least I thought.

And Joe's specific comment on energy - he said, "I've seen how you welcome people that come to your house. Why can't you have that same energy for our guests on the podcast?" When I heard my own interview - again, just your energy... Even if you have a decent amount of energy, for whatever reason, in the podcast it comes across as muted. So you really got to overdo it to make it sound somewhat appealing. Again, you guys have a much shorter learning curve than I did; I was just a train wreck on both sides of the microphone.

Slocomb Reed: I got that same feedback, and I'll tell you, I usually listen to podcasts at about 1.5X speed, so that I can just pick up everything quickly... And when my episodes of the Best Ever Podcast first aired, I was listening at 1.5X speed because that was my habit... But I put it down to normal speed, I was like, "Oh man, I sound lethargic." I sound like I either just woke up or I'm headed to bed. So that was feedback that I definitely needed to hear as well. I make sure I have a good stock of caffeine on hand on recording days, just to make sure... For a very similar reason, I do all of my interviewing standing up. I'm at a standing desk right now, just to make sure I'm physically able to lean in, and I feel like you can hear that, now that I'm listening through some of my more recent episodes. I think you can hear when I physically lean in, the energy level rises.

Travis Watts: That's a really great point, Slocomb... Because I was looking back at some of the video interviews where I was being interviewed before, and I'm slouched back in a chair or on a couch, and it really didn't come out great on the audio. I've experimented with standing desks, for many years I did it that way. Exercising right before an interview, I've definitely done the caffeine thing you talk about...

I mean, you've got to do something... Listen to your favorite song and get pumped up and then go right into the interview, stuff like that. I've done a lot of different things to experiment. I think at the end of the day, you've got to do what's right for you, what makes sense. But yeah, the medium is audio. A lot of folks aren't watching visually, so that's all you got, is your voice inflection. You've just got to give it your best, because if you're boring, like a Ben Stein interview, people are gonna tune out. [laughter]

Ash Patel: Travis, do you stand up now?

Travis Watts: I hybrid mix it. Right now, I'm actually sitting, because of where my... I have a little mobile office, and sometimes I'm standing. It depends.

Ash Patel: I do the same thing, Slocomb. I stand up as well. Big difference. Both of you mentioned leading the conversation when you're interviewing somebody. Give me a little bit more insight on that. I want to ask, how do you address when somebody just has a pre-planned five-minute-long dissertation? How do you interject? Slocomb, I'll let you start.

Slocomb Reed: Absolutely. The analogy that I think of - and I think this is also the reason why Travis said he feels like he's in more control when he is the interviewee. I treat it like it's my job to open the right doors, and then let the person I'm interviewing walk through them. I don't know what they're going to say, I don't know what their answers to the questions are, but get a feel for where this person's expertise is, where their experience is, and then open the doors that allow them to walk through and add that value. What was the original question?

Ash Patel: How do you address that individual that just wants to dominate and just not even breathe between sentences, and just talk, talk, talk?

Slocomb Reed: I would say first, it's not just the three of us. It's not just the interviewer, it's also the producer. That has happened in a lot of the conversations that I've had on this podcast... And you don't catch nearly as much of it because Kevin catches that. There are times when outside of what airs, I tell someone, "Hey, look, this is a short-form podcast. You've got great stories, but we've only got 15 more minutes, and we've got places to go." That's a little bit more gracious than saying something like, "Stop talking about yourself that way." Like, "Hey look, man, it's a daily podcast. We do a lot of interviews. I have another interview coming up. I really want to make sure we add value and that you have a good opportunity to express yourself here. So answer this question", and then I'll go into a question, and that's what you actually hear on the recording.

Travis Watts: A couple of answers from my perspective. One, it's a very difficult situation to handle. On The Actively Passive Show that I do, it's usually just myself. It used to be Theo Hicks and I. I've had I think one guest and almost 100 episodes on that show. So that's the short answer, don't have a guest. [laughs] But the larger thing is, to Slocomb's point - set the expectation up front.

It starts with the initial email, in my opinion, saying, "This is a short-form podcast. It's about 20 minutes long; please bring your best value. Here are some potential questions we might ask during the thing." If somebody comes on board - and I verbalize that before we hit the record button too, to make sure that we're in alignment. If somebody is going to blow through that with a 30-minute-long story, it's going to be done in editing, pretty much, long story short.

We're going to chop that down to what it needs to be, unfortunately, because it's kind of not really respecting that person's time. It's the same thing as when I'm being interviewed. If someone tells me 20 minutes, I'm not going to go into my 30-minute story.

Ash Patel: Travis, Slocomb mentioned Kevin. Kevin is our podcast audio editor, the best in the business. But not everybody has somebody to that caliber editing audio. I'll tell you what I do... I'm from Jersey. In normal everyday life, I have no problem talking over people, cutting people off as they're talking. But for whatever reason, on a podcast, I was very respectful. I did not interrupt people, or I tried not to. But when you have somebody that it might just be their personality, when they start talking, they don't stop, I've found what works best for me is kind of agreeing on one of their positions and take over the conversation. If they say, "In my opinion, the economy is going to change..." "Well, you know what? I agree with you. Yeah, the economy's going to change. But what was your first deal like?"

Travis Watt: Yeah.

Slocomb Reed: Totally.

Ash Patel: You go along with them, and then you take back the reins of the conversation.

Travis Watts: It's a great point. I was watching one the other day with Robert Kiyosaki interviewing somebody... And I would say that maybe one example of what not to do - there was a lot of very abrupt, rude interruptions and cutting things short, or just going and doing an advertisement or something... There are more graceful ways to do it. I think that's an excellent point, Ash.

Break: [00:13:57] - [00:15:43]

Ash Patel: Another thing that I caught myself doing a lot is starting sentences with "So." I've seen that a lot of the interviewees, people that I interview, do the same thing. I wonder if it's just a nervous thing, a normal habit that comes out more when you're nervous... But I replaced "So" with the person's name. Instead of starting a sentence with "So", I would say, "Travis, tell me about..." What kind of big, life-changing tics or nuances did you notice about your interview style that you fixed?

Travis Watts: That's an excellent point, because everybody loves to hear their own name. It's kind of a rapport builder, too; it's also a sign of respect, in some regard, to use people's names... Not just like, "Hey, man, why don't you tell me how you got started?" It's just remembering their name in the first place. I think that the thing that's helped the most is what I was kind of referring to earlier, which is being as proactive as possible. Starting with emailing them the expectations, and make sure your microphone is set up properly, make sure you have good lighting... "It's going to be 20 minutes long, this is what I intend to ask you, here are some questions I put together..."

By the way, I always try to customize - your guy's role may be a little bit different. In the interviews that I've done where I brought guests on, I always look at that actual person, and what they actually do, and I try to find creative questions to ask them that haven't been asked in every episode leading up to this, so that we have something unique of value to share. Then as I get them in the green room, so to speak, before we go live with it, I always reiterate my points. I intend to ask you this; is there anything else you wanted to address? Is there anything you want me to avoid or not talk about?

Then we just go in with as much rapport as possible, and I usually try to throw a compliment in there as I can. "Hey, I watched this video with you, or this other interview. I love what you said about blah, blah, blah. I'd like to elaborate on that and take it in this direction. Would that be okay?" I know that's extreme, I know that for some folks it sounds like maybe too much work or something... But you got to remember, I haven't put too many guests on my show in the first place, so I've had the luxury of being able to do that kind of research, and I recognize not everybody has, but that's really made a big impact.

Ash Patel: Awesome. Slocomb.

Slocomb Reed: A few years ago I joined the Toastmasters group, which leads to listening to a lot of people give speeches and receiving constructive criticism from other people who give speeches and have more experience than they or I did. One of the things that was really helpful learning from Toastmasters is that those verbal tics are subconscious, but serve a purpose. They fill or take over the soundscape to do one of two things, typically. One of them is to either maintain control of the soundscape; so that you know that I'll be saying something in a moment and you know that you should be listening. They also take over the soundscape to give everyone else the opportunity to know that they need to be listened to. That's where the "So" comes in. I love what you said, Ash, about replacing that tic with the person you're interviewing, their name.

Another piece of feedback that I got really early on with this podcast was that I said "awesome" too much. Because I was looking for one of those cues to go to after someone gave an answer. Very often, their answers were awesome. But I was saying the same thing over ,again and it was getting too repetitive. So I'm a little more aware now of what those cues are. They are helpful though, especially when you need your interviewee to redirect their attention to your next question. Therefore, using a couple of tics now, be sure that you change it up and use them to catch the attention of the person that you're talking to, while also staying respectful, to Travis's point, and not getting too repetitive.

Travis Watts: One thing to add to that... I love that, absolutely. I just remembered, you were talking about the most impactful thing or some of those tips and tricks... Editing out in the beginning some of what you're talking about. I used to be terrible at dragging the word "uhm", it was horrible. If you record yourself for 10 minutes straight, don't give yourself any breaks or whatever, and then go back and listen to it... I would say something and go, "Uhm, you know, like, blah, blah, blah." So I had to edit in the beginning a lot of that stuff out; I was self-editing, until I could pick up the pattern of not doing it and fixing that.

Ash Patel: I think it also helps to practice. When I talk to my kids, if I remember to do this, I will speak with them as if I am on a podcast, ever so often, and not talk like I normally do, a guy from Jersey. But in Toastmasters, there's a guy named Nate Barger, who is just a legend in real estate.

Nate and I talked about going to Toastmasters, and he's like, "No, they're going to take your personality away. They're going to teach you how to speak in a corporate boardroom, but it doesn't do wonders for your personality. It doesn't connect the real you with the audience." So I decided, probably out of laziness, or what Nate said, that I'm not doing Toastmasters. I'm going to keep my nuances and all my little tics, to some extent.

Travis and Slocomb - another topic I want to touch on is talking about humility, talking about failure, and using that to add value in connecting with the audience. I've got to tell you, some of my best interviews were with a guy who was a B1 Air Force pilot. Very rigid, very strict, just spoke as if he was still in the military. But then, towards the end of the interview, we talked about where he had a financial disaster, and had to reset. It was very humbling, he was very vulnerable at the moment. That built an incredible connection with myself and the audience, and it's to this day one of my favorite interviews. What's your guys' opinion? How do you either share that vulnerability, or try to extract it from the person you're interviewing?

Travis Watts: Yeah, 100%. I think it makes you real, and I think it's very relatable to people. It plays a lot into the psychology of earning trust with someone. And I've made this mistake before, because you want to say the right things, and you want to, whatever, show people the way, so to speak. You want to leave out the bad stuff, and you just want to showcase the good. You lose rapport, number one, you sound fake, and a lot of people don't trust it. Because you get up there, "Real estate's awesome. I've always had great success. I got from zero to 100 doing it, and you ought to do it, too." It's just cheesy, it's not real.

If you watch any movie, there's always the progress, and then the setback, then the recovery, rebuild, and then the final outcome. You can't miss that setback. I think that's an important piece to telling your story. Building A Story Brand, I think it's the name of the book, Donald Miller's book, but I'm sure there are a lot of other resources out there... But you've got to tell your story. I think that's a critical key that cannot be missed.

Ash Patel: Travis, how do you extract that from the person you're interviewing?

Travis Watts: Again, for me personally, it's always a proactive approach. It's "I would like to ask you not just about your successes, but any failures you had and what you learned from those lessons along the way." I always want to do that upfront, and not put them in an uncomfortable state by spontaneously bringing it out, like, "Great for you, but tell me where you failed." That can be uncomfortable if you're not prepared to talk about it.

Ash Patel: I love that. I'm going to start using that in the beginning. Let them know. Thank you for that. Slocomb.

Slocomb Reed: I need to start doing that as well, Travis. I actually wrote for myself in my own pre-recording and pre-interview notes... And this is to expound on what you guys both said. For everyone who's listening to this who wants to be a good interviewee and have a big impact, speaking selfishly on behalf of interviewees and on behalf of myself when I'm being interviewed, the most impactful thing that I can do is teach, add value to the people who are listening somehow.

People don't tune into a podcast to hear about someone because they're successful, they tune in to learn something, and in some cases to connect. So it's very valuable, of course, to build that human connection, being willing to talk about your failures and the struggles that you've had. Also, selfishly speaking as an interviewee, if your goal is self-promotion, the best way to attract the most listenership to yourself and get people to connect with you is to tell them something that you had to struggle through and how you've learned from it, and connect with that type of struggle victory story.

That's what people are really listening to, to be blunt, for the lack of a better term; what did you suck at that you needed to not suck at, so you improved? Because those are the things and those are the stories that come from hardship, where you had to learn and grow and are therefore sharing something that someone else can learn and grow from - that's what comes off the best in an interview in one of these podcasts, for sure.

Travis Watts: Couldn't agree more. I just want to add one quick thing to that. It's that I made one critical mistake early on when I was sharing my story. What it was - I was sharing the vulnerabilities, I was sharing the struggle, but I was being too specific, where people could not relate to it. I was using too many details in my story. I was saying, "My boss's name was Bob, and I was in Saudi Arabia working for an oil company..." Well, how many people have a manager Bob that worked in Saudi Arabia in an oil company? Instead, I would rework that into, "I worked 100 hours a week. I was away from home a lot, and the struggle was real." A lot more people can relate to that.

Ash Patel: Many good points, Travis. Giving people your mindset at the time, in addition to the details. Here's what I thought when I was working 80, 100-hour weeks, that people can relate with; so important. Slocomb, to your points, talking about self-promoting in contrast with offering that humility... I think you're allowed to self-promote once you share your vulnerabilities and your failures. If you just go through the entire interview self-promoting, you never build a connection with the audience, or the person interviewing you.

So if you want to self-promote, share your story, share your failures, and share your mindset. You can share a story that was a huge win, but tamper that by saying, "I was so nervous, I almost didn't do this deal. I was so scared to ask these investors for money." Whatever it may be. So bring people into your world.

Slocomb Reed: Two things. If I can interject real quick. The first - frankly, I think the best self-promotion is when you have shared your vulnerability, your struggle, your loss, and how you overcame them. That is what leads to the best results for someone who is looking to self-promote. It's to demonstrate or explain where they have struggled, and what it is that they had to learn, what was hard for them that they had to overcome and how they overcame it. That's the best self-promotion.

Second thing - Ash, one thing I'm learning from you is how to give a solid, succinct summary of a conversation or an interview at the end, to bring the listeners back into what was just said and put a good bow on the end of a conversation. You are so good at that.

Ash Patel: Thank you. I learned that from listening to Joe all those years. He does a masterful job of doing that. Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time today. On behalf of my co-hosts, Slocomb Reed and Travis Watts, Best Ever listeners, thank you so much for joining us. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a five-star review, and share this podcast with someone you think can benefit from it. Also, follow, subscribe, and have a Best Ever day.

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