How to be a great podcast guest 🎙 (with gifs)
As the podcast industry continues to gain popularity, the likelihood of you being invited to speak on a podcast is increasing as well. So when your buddy Dave asks to interview you about your expertise on The Mandalorian, how can you make sure you’re prepared?
Since sound & interview quality have been my responsibility as a producer for over 100 episodes of the Middle Tech Podcast, I’ve been able to compile a list of tips, tricks, and best practices when it comes to crushing your interview. The following are things to keep in mind before, during, and after your podcast debut (accompanied by some fun gifs 🙂).
Before the Recording:
Understand the Style of the podcast 👔
Before you sit down in front of the mic to talk about how Baby Yoda is NOT actually Yoda, it’s important to understand the interview style of the podcast. Does the host prefer for it to be conversational or more question & answer? Are there any specific points that the host would like to cover during the conversation? Is cussing kosher or is the podcast PG? Having these answers can help you feel more comfortable and prepared before your interview. I would suggest simply asking the host those questions and listening to past episodes of the podcast to gain a better understanding of the style of the podcast.
What we do for Middle Tech:
Middle Tech is a hybrid conversational & prepared question and answer podcast. We have a theme that we want to stay consistent with, but we don’t conduct a strict interview. Think of it as more like providing some guardrails for the conversation. What this looks like in practice is that before every interview, we conduct an “intro” call with our potential guests. This intro call accomplishes a couple of things - we establish some camaraderie with the guest prior to recording, we can decide where the “guardrails” should guide the conversation, and we communicate what the process of being on a podcast looks like. After the intro call, we craft discussion notes (the guardrails) that we share with the guest prior to recording so that they can prepare some thoughts beforehand if they’d like.
Find Headphones 🎧, the best microphone you can find 🎙, and record natively 💻 (Only for remote recordings — skip this section if the recording is in person)
If the interview is being recorded remotely via zoom or some other conferencing software, do the host a favor and do these 4 things:
Wear headphones - this is simply to prevent echo if you’re in an echoey room.
Use a good mic - if this is your first podcast appearance, you likely don’t have anything much better than the mic on your Apple headphones. While this is fine, you’ll be doing everyone a favor if you can find a way to borrow a decent microphone from a friend. Amazon also has lots of great, cheap options if you’re serious about doing more podcast interviews.
Don’t use a phone - Mostly because of tip #4 👇🏼
Record natively - out of these three suggestions, this one is the most important if you’re doing a remote interview. Recording natively means you are using software of some kind to record your own audio directly to your computer. This is important because zoom (or any other wifi based service) tends to lag during conversations. On top of that, the quality of audio will be greatly increased if you record it natively. For simplicity, we recommend using either GarageBand (for mac owners) or QuickTime player.
Don’t overthink it! 🧠
Prepare in whatever way makes you comfortable, but don’t psych yourself out and try to rehearse what you’re going to say. Let it be natural, you’ve been asked to speak on a podcast because you’re you, so don’t get in the way of yourself!
Use the bathroom 🚽
This one seems obvious, but it happens more than you’d think. Nothing disrupts the flow of a conversation like having to go pee. Remember to take care of it prior to recording.
During the Recording:
Mute your phone 📵
Simple. Just remember to do it.
Keep the mic a fist’s distance away from your mouth when speaking (depending on the mic) 👊🏼
For most podcasting microphones, a general rule of thumb is to keep the mic about “a fist’s distance” away from your mouth when speaking. Be mindful of this distance if more than one person is interviewing you, as your mouth will get closer and further from the mic as you turn your head to speak.
Don’t hit your hands on the table 💥
Lots of people talk with their hands, which is fine, but if you’re one of those people, do not let your hands hit the table. Usually, the microphones are attached to that table and can easily pick up any tapping caused by your hand motions.
Avoid using sentence fillers such as “Like” & Uhm” 😬
This one can be more difficult to control, especially if you're nervous. However, just consciously trying to avoid those sentence fillers can go a long way in making you sound composed and intelligent. It’s OK to have silence between thoughts rather than filling it with one of those words.
Avoid starting your sentence while the host is still finishing theirs 🗣
Most people don’t have to think about this too much, but occasionally we’ll have a guest that will finish sentences or start answering a question before we’ve finished asking it. This isn’t a huge problem and occasionally it can be a sign that the conversation is flowing really well, but the audio becomes really mixed for the listener when that happens. A good rule of thumb is to always let someone finish their thought unless you can tell their intentionally trailing off so that you can pick it up.
After the Recording:
Share assets with the podcast team 🤝
If the podcast plans on highlighting your episode on social media channels, be sure to send over any headshots, logo files, or assets that could assist in making social content.
Promote your episode 📢
Tell your mom, your girlfriend, your dog, and anyone else that cares that you are now a bonafide podcast personality. Posting your episode on your own personal social channels is a great way to get some clout while also helping the podcast further its mission, whatever that may be. Podcasters work hard to make their podcast happen, often while making little to no money on it. Helping them get their audience numbers up is a great way to show your support.
If you think I missed something, please let me know in the comments! 👇🏼
And if you’re interested…