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Guest on a podcast? Read this first!

6a00d8345169c669e20168e808202e970c-piSince 2005 I’ve conducted hundreds of podcast interviews for my Trafcom News Podcast as well as client projects. Many of these interviews were in person, but most were conducted remotely.

Various factors affect the success of a podcast, both from a content and audio quality point of view. But you, as the interviewee, are the most important.

Here are a few tips to help you shine as a podcast guest. After all, you’re probably doing the interview to share your knowledge as an expert, to promote your business or your book, or to generate speaking gigs. So you want to be your best.

Preparation
Check out the podcast
to ensure it fits your needs. Ask the host what the angle of the interview is, and about the intended audience. If your target market is mega-corporations, and the podcast is geared toward home business, you should probably decline. Do your homework so you don’t waste your time.

Ask for discussion areas in advance, but don’t expect to get every question in writing. As a podcaster, I don’t share exact questions before the interview, because some guests get a little nervous and script their answers, and then expect to read them on the podcast.  Trust me on this: Unless you’re a trained voice actor, reading can be the fastest way to ruin an interview. Of course, you do want to keep relevant facts and figures at your fingertips so that you sound like the expert you are.

Get the technology out of the way early. When you’re booked as a guest, confirm the date and time (including time zone). Ask whether the interview will be conducted in person or by phone, Skype, Google+ Hangouts or some other means. If it’s by phone, please use a landline, not a mobile phone. Audio quality on a phone is less than optimal; it’s even worse on a cell phone.

Sounding great
These days, many podcasters use Skype for remote interviews.
Although the popularity of Skype continues to grow, some guests are not familiar with it, and attempt to “try it out” at the time of the interview. This is not a good idea. If you’re not accustomed to using Skype, install it in advance and experiment with a friend or family member. Or use the “Skype test call” feature within the application. Learn how to start up the program, plug in your headset and/or microphone, and turn off Skype notifications so that you don’t hear annoying beeps during the interview.

The right gear will improve sound quality immensely. If you’re going to do multiple remote interviews, invest in a headset and microphone combo. Even better: a USB microphone like the Blue Yeti, which will give you very good podcast quality for under $100.  The worst audio quality will result from using the internal microphone built into your PC. If you must rely on it, learn to use it properly and position yourself to capture decent (not great) sound.

Quiet on the set! Turn off all notifications that make noise on your computer. If you have a thunderous fan or air conditioner in the room, turn it off for the interview. If you have a noisy child or pet, do not do the interview if they’re within earshot, unless they’re part of the story.

Share your stories. Using a story to make a point can be very effective. But do be sure that your stories don’t run too long. Check with the podcaster; how much time do you have? Remember not to talk too fast. Sometimes when we’re excited about a topic, we speak too quickly. Slow down, and remember to breathe.

Pauses please. The interviewer might ask for pauses between questions and answers, which makes the editing process easier. So, after you say something, don’t be afraid of the silence, which will be edited out. When I do interviews, I usually warn the guest in advance about these pregnant pauses.

Have you ever been a podcast guest? What tips would you share?

About Donna Papacosta

Writer, speaker, podcaster, communications and social media consultant, content marketer and curator. As a consultant, I emphasize the importance of storytelling and relationship-building, and enjoy helping people understand how today’s technology, combined with tried-and-true tactics, can help them communicate better with employees, customers and prospects. In other words: Share your story, build your business.

2 Responses to "Guest on a podcast? Read this first!"

  • Podcast editor
    January 24, 2013 - 2:04 AM Reply

    Hi Donna,

    Thank you for sharing these great tips. I’ve never been a guest on a podcast, but as a podcast editor, it’s like I’ve seen every scenario you’ve outlined on what blows up a supposedly great show. One common issue I encounter when editing is the host/guest talking over the other which is really a pain specially if you record on only one track. I think, investing in tools such as Hindenburg Journalist Pro is a great choice specially if you are serious with podcasting.

    Thanks,

    Florante

  • Donna Papacosta
    January 24, 2013 - 9:05 AM Reply

    Good point. I often ask guests to refrain from talking on top of each other for this very reason. As for Hindenburg, I had been involved in testing an early version but haven’t looked at it lately. I will check it out. Thanks for your comment.

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