Podcast interviews – some advice

A friend of mine recently asked me for some advice about a podcast interview they were doing at the weekend. They’d not done one for a few years and wanted to be at their best. Below is the result. It was bashed out in a hurry to get it over to my friend so it’s not comprehensive but you might find it useful!

Psychological stuff

Remember why you’re there! By all means enjoy the glory and take the sales and whatever else, but remember why you’re there in the first place. You’re there to share what you know with people who listen to the podcast who would find it helpful and don’t already know it. That takes a lot of the pressure off, because it’s no longer about you! If you’re thinking like that, nerves are a form of hubris – you’re the messenger, not the message.

Remember also that it’s the host’s job to make you (and them) look good. Again, that takes some of the pressure off because although you should absolutely do your best for them, they’re the one with more to lose – you can walk away at the end having just not had a good session but they’ve got long term reputation on the line! It’s a team effort, not you doing a solo!

Prepare for the obvious questions! You know the ones… “How did you get started?” and things like that. They tend to come at the start of the conversation so you get a free hit as a warm up! When you go over them in your head, make sure you cut out alllll the stuff people don’t know.

Building on that point, find a “starting point” in your personal history, for example, that’s recent enough to be the turning point into your current situation.  Don’t start with when you were born! Start with ‘the moment’ that got you into where you are now. You can of course throw in a “I’ve always been interested in X, but in <date> this happened <trigger event> so I decided to <what you did>. People are fascinated by triggers and turning points and in my experience they need far less background than the speaker ever thinks they do. Many things that are important to you are just in the way of the content for most people!

Talk to the host about what sort of questions they’re going to ask. If they say it’s free-flowing, give them a list yourself! Don’t be shy about it. (Even if they don’t ask the questions you give them – but most will – the thinking you’ve put into it is good prep for improvised responses to other questions as things are fresher in your head.

Listen to an episode or two of previous sessions – that way you get a feel for the style and (importantly!) you can reference back to it in what you say. Nothing sounds cooler than “As X said a couple of weeks ago…” or “When Y said blah-blah last month it reminded me that…”

Don’t put notes on sheets of paper. If you want to have prompts (for statistics you might cite, for example) put them on Index cards. Arrange them so you can see them all at once just by glancing at them – which obviously means you need to put things in bullet point format and big text! The discipline of doing this puts things in your head so it’s fresh, and lets be honest, no one can see things on sheets of paper as fast as they can with things spread out around them!

Technical stuff

Get there early. Check your tech. Nothing makes you more anxious than wondering if everything is working. Then once you know it’s fine, touch nothing and forget about it. Don’t talk to the mic – talk to the person and let the tech do its job.

If you can, persuade the host to do a test recording and listen to it for a few seconds. That should give you feedback about if you need to be closer to the mic etc

Ask the host to start the recording early. Too many of them talk with you for a bit to “put you at your ease” and then say “I’m going to start the recording now” which just makes you more nervous! Instead, get them to start the recording and then do any chat they want to do, so that the tech, and the fact you’re being recorded, is forgotten about by the time the “real thing” starts. If they’ve got a problem with that, remind them how easy it is to edit out the preamble – it literally takes seconds!

Take a few seconds to warm up your lips – nothing special, just chew on them for a moment and then yawawwwwwwnnnnn… Microphones love clear diction!

Don’t drink cold water. It shocks your vocal cords. If you want to have a drink handy, make it tepid water or not-hot tea . Oh, and keep it away from your computer. Don’t ask why I say that. Just don’t! 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *