If you are scheduled to interview by phone, email your phone number to Freddy Cardoza at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Rhea Werner
If you’re not incredibly familiar with podcasts, you might be feeling a little lost or nervous when it comes time to appear on a show. Here’s how to get ready.
15 Tips For Doing a Great Interview
These 15 tips for a memorable (in a good way) guest appearance will get you invited back—and perhaps even help you book appearances on bigger and better shows in the future.
1. Prepare your replies to answers and your message
Your message will be stronger if it’s at the forefront of your mind while you record. To prepare your message, review any previous email/Twitter/snail mail communications with your host to get a lock on the topic or message, whether it’s “Creative writing is amazing” or “Here are the reasons you should advocate for this cause.” If you like, jot down a few notes to refer to, but don’t prepare a script.
2. Use a good(-ish) mic, if you can.
You don’t need to invest in a $600 microphone to be a good podcast guest. (Heck, I’m a podcaster and I don’t even have a mic that nice.) But do be aware that a podcast is an audio medium, and a podcast is judged by the quality of not only its content but its audio. So if you have a mic, hook it up and use it—your host will appreciate your attention to sound quality and be more likely to invite you back.
But if you don’t, that’s totally fine. Use the best phone or built-in laptop mic you have access to, make sure you’re speaking clearly and directly into it, and try not to touch or bump any audio cords or cables. Or record on the subway, in a crowded restaurant, etc.
3. Use towels to dampen the sound.
I hope no one thinks I have some kind of thing for towels. Or maybe you do, and I should just be OK with it. Either way, if you’re recording your side of the interview from an office or desk or anywhere with lots of hard, flat surfaces and 90-degree angles, do what you can to dampen the sound. Those hard, flat surfaces create a tinny, echo-y sound while dampening helps create a richer, more intimate sound for listeners.
Lay a towel over any hard surfaces in the immediate recording area, close the curtains over nearby windows—basically, do whatever you can to absorb excess soundwaves. Again, your host (and his or her listeners) will appreciate it.
Drink a glass of water 20-30 minutes before your interview, and be sure to have a beverage such as room-temperature water or warm tea on hand while recording. Or wine, if you’re recording after a particularly long day. You might even want to apply lip balm before recording. Dry mouths and lips tend to make “mouth sounds”—those sticky, clicking, smacking sounds that are irritating and unpleasant for listeners.
Finally, please warn your host before sipping so that they can be prepared to cut out any unpleasant slurping sounds, and refrain altogether from snacking or eating while recording. (Seriously—the audio of someone chewing is pretty revolting.)
5. Use the bathroom before you start recording.
Like my dad used to say before car trips, “Even if you don’t think you have to go, try anyway.”
6. Banish the pets (and maybe kids, friends and significant others) while recording.
I’ve recorded several episodes where my guest and I are in the midst of a riveting and meaningful conversation when suddenly a torrent of barks tears through our conversation. It’s distracting for you and your host, unpleasant to listen to and even potentially frightening or startling for your listeners.
7. Turn off your phone.
Or put it into Airplane Mode. Either way, if your phone begins ringing or vibrating, even if it’s just a brief interruption that can be edited out, the natural flow of the conversation is lost and the listener’s engagement in what you have to say is diminished or broken.
8. Be on time or ready on time
It’s just polite. Hopefully, your host will pay you the same courtesy.
9. Think of it as a coffee date, not an interview.
I’ve noticed that my best interviews are always the ones where both parties are fully engaged and invested in the conversation. The world falls away and all focus goes toward you and your message. To get this effect, treat your recording session like it’s a coffee date instead of an interview—not only will it help with nervousness, but it will improve the quality of the conversation with focus and intimacy.
10. Be aware unwanted noises and sounds
Lip smacking, sudden explosive coughs or other bodily sounds are generally awkward and unpleasant to listen to. Be mindful of these sounds, and perhaps excuse yourself or mute your microphone (if possible) before release. So to speak.
11. Feel free to take notes or doodle while you chat.
I always find that I am more attentive and mindful during a conversation when I’m taking notes. It helps me remember points I want to make, questions I want to circle back to and even the other person’s name.
12. Use your host’s name.
Podcasting is all about intimacy, authenticity and personal connection. Help foster these qualities and add a natural element to the chat by using each other’s names. Establish before recording with your host what you would like to be called, whether it’s an honorary title or simply your first name.
13. Try to avoid saying “um”, “ahhh”, and “you know”.
This one’s hard, even for seasoned podcasters. Just know while you’re recording that it’s natural to be a little nervous, and since it’s (probably) not a live recording, you can take all the time you need to think, breathe and remember how awesome you are. Your host can easily edit out silences later.
If you’d like to go the extra mile (and improve your public speaking skills while you’re at it), take the time to identify what your “fillers” are ahead of time. Common fillers are “um”, “kind of”, “ahh”, “like”, “you know” and “sort of”. If you are mindful of your tendencies, fewer of them will slip out during recording.
14. Say thanks.
Good manners will get you surprisingly far in the interview world. Be sure to thank your host at the end of the interview and be gracious throughout.
15. Promote the episode when it goes live.
Here’s a secret: No matter how popular their show, podcasters are just as desperate for amplification as you are. Make it a win-win and promote the heck out of your episode when it goes live, whether it’s via social media, word of mouth, your website or your email list.
Enjoy yourself. If you enjoy yourself, the audience will likely enjoy themselves. It’s a privilege to interview you– and it’s a privilege to be interviewed. Make it great!
By participating in the interview, you are giving the podcaster the right to use your audio and/or video in the production of their podcast and/or vlog. Thank you in advance for participating.
If you are participating in conducting the interview, read this first.