Podcasting – and audio in general – can be a bit arcane to folks who aren’t audio nerds. If you’ve been asked to be a guest on a podcast, here are some tips about the people, process, and technology of podcast interviews that will help make your guest appearance as successful as possible.
Before you interview, do your homework:
- Know who the hosts are and how to pronounce their names.
- Provide your name and correct pronunciation to your hosts.
- Look up your hosts on LinkedIn for background and conversation starters.
- Review previous episodes to learn the flow and outline for how a typical show goes, how the hosts work with guests.
- Ask your hosts what their audience wants to hear about most.
- Address your hosts by name regularly throughout the interview.
- As appropriate, assist your hosts in promoting the episode of the show in advance.
- Provide your own media kit well in advance containing you biography in short and long form, headshot, title, and company.
Before appearing on the show, and while you’re on the show, keep these process tips in mind.
- Prepare your remarks in advance, as well as anticipated questions if your hosts did not provide them.
- Assume that from the moment you make a connection, the recording is on. There is no such thing as “off the record”; behave accordingly.
- Assume that the hosts will do minimal or no editing and speak accordingly.
- Silence all devices and shut down all non-essential applications on your computer.
- Turn off all notifications.
- If in an office, close your office door and/or put up a Do Not Disturb sign.
- Be sure you have plenty of reminders about when your interview is. Don’t miss it.
- Ask hosts for a text/SMS/notification mechanism so that you can contact them if something unexpected happens.
- If the hosts send you guest guidelines, read and adhere to them.
- Practice with a friend or colleague in advance. Do a full dry rehearsal, with all your equipment, at least 24 hours before your interview.
- If you’ll be promoting something, be sure your offer is available, your website works, etc.
- Treat an interview as under embargo; don’t publish content from the interview until after it has gone live.
- Have water or the beverage of your choice nearby.
- Always use the restroom 15 minutes before your interview begins.
- Speak more slowly than you normally do.
- Slightly exaggerate your enunciation for clarity.
While many people focus on the technology first, it’s arguably the least important. Podcasters can help you work around technical difficulties if they’re any good. They can’t repair an unprepared guest. That said, here are steps to take to increase the likelihood of a technically strong interview.
- Always, without exception, use a wired Internet connection. Never use Wi-Fi. The latency will make the interview awkward and uncomfortable.
- Avoid at all costs recording or interviewing over a phone line.
- Never record in an environment with ambient noise such as a coffee shop, store, open office, etc. Find the quietest room you can find.
- Use the best microphone you have and/or can afford.
- If you haven’t bought a microphone, a Blue Snowball USB mic is a straightforward investment and only costs about US$50.
- Wear headphones.
- Power down your mobile phone or put it into airplane mode; electronic emissions from it can cause severe interference with microphones.
- Sign on and test your equipment 30-60 minutes before showtime.
- Avoid any software updates or other IT-related matters before your interview so as to ensure a working computer when the interview time arrives.
- Avoid typing or using the mouse during recording.
- Avoid making any kind of impact on the surface where the microphone is placed – coffee cup on the desk, accidental impact, etc.
- If the hosts use a service that creates a local audio file, be sure to upload it to them.
After the Interview
What you do after the interview determines whether or not you’ll be invited back.
- Follow common courtesy and thank the hosts.
- Confirm the publication date.
- Confirm the episode URL in a followup email.
- Promote your episode of the show as heavily as possible on social media, websites, and with paid advertising. Nothing gets you invited back like having your interview be the most downloaded episode ever.
Follow these tips and you’ll be the best, most memorable podcast guest most shows have had.
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