Balancing banter: How much should a podcast guest talk on an episode?

Trappe Digital LLC may earn commission from product clicks and purchases. Rest assured, opinions are mine or of the article’s author.

On conversational podcast episodes, the conversation is what matters. So we do have to balance the banter and that means both people talk, but at what percentage level when you look at the big picture?

Should the host simply ask the questions and get out of the way or should they add their own stories? And if they add their own stories, how much of the airtime should they take? On shorter podcast episodes like on The Business Storytelling Show which is 24 minutes, there’s only so much time to go around after all.

So here’s kind of the model I follow on my podcast and if I may say so myself I think it works.

I clearly invited my guest for a specific reason, so I want to ensure they have enough time to share their expertise.

I have specific questions for them that I want to ask them. And on some episodes that ends up being 3 to 5 questions most on a 24-minute show.

But I also want to show off and share my own stories and expertise.

Podcast interview feedback

So what I do is I usually open with a little bit of a story, which is typically the first minute or two minutes of a show. From there I throw it to the guest with a question, and then, every time I ask another question I use a story to transition into basically the next topic that we will be discussing.

That gives me the opportunity to share my own experiences, and then also ask questions and let the guest take their airtime from there. Certainly, at some point you might need to cut a guest off, but I think a five-minute answer to a complicated question shouldn’t raise concerns.

The measurement

So to find out the actual percentages, I uploaded a bunch of my episodes into Otter.AI and had them transcribe them for me.

In general, what I found is that the guests end up with about 60-75% of the airtime while I get about 25-40% of the time.

Podcast analysis in otter

Podcast analysis from otter

I find the super interesting and I think it makes sense. The guests should get about 2/3 and the host should get about 1/3. And it’s not like these are completely siloed comments. They are part of a conversation.

Let’s not overthink this entire topic and please don’t over-engineer it on your show, but I still think it’s kind of interesting to think about and even take a look at to see where the numbers stand just to get a feeling on whether it’s potentially a good setup for a good conversation.

Now if one person gets 90% of all the talk time that’s a problem. If it’s the host that’s a real problem. Why even have guests if that’s the case?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Listen to my podcast