How to be an excellent podcast guest

How to be an excellent podcast guest

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Last month I was selected to participate in a World Wide Web Day podcast episode for WP Briefing along with a few other WordPressers.

This would be my first time giving a podcast interview. I was excited and nervous especially when I found out that I was being interviewed by Josepha Haden Chomphosy, the Executive Director of the WordPress project.

I turned to social media and posted this message on my Twitter feed asking for advice.

My twitter post "I’m excited and nervous to be interviewed on a WordPress podcast next week. My first time EVER.  Any tips for a newbie??"

Now I have a small following and didn’t expect many to respond to the message. To my surprise, I got 21 helpful suggestions and 54 likes. Thank you, folks, for your support!

If you are a newbie and looking for tips to be an excellent podcast guest, here is a compilation of what I learned.

Get questions ahead of time and prep

  • @volkswagenchick – Ask for some of the questions ahead of time so you can mull over talking points.
  • @jackomo – Some of the ways I prep is to write some of my key points down. You could write a blog post about the podcast. This helps me put together some of the words I plan to say ahead of time. Above all else, do things that help keep you calm, even while you’re excited.
  • My 2 cents: Take the time to think through the questions below, and come up with some unique answers. Think about your background, and craft your answers accordingly, so they’re uniquely you. Understand the host and the audience clearly and tailor the answers to make them interesting and helpful for the audience.

Have one key takeaway

  • @BFTrick – For any media (TV, radio, podcast, etc) have one takeaway for the listener. Even hour-long podcasts have one theme with multiple action items.

Keep it conversational

  • @courtneyr_dev – Remember, your voice matters, and also, this is just a personal conversation that you are letting us listen to. Focus on the person you are with.
  • @jasontucker – Think of it not like an interview but a conversation. 10 years of being a podcast host and I don’t conduct interviews, I facilitate conversations. Treat it like that and you will have no problems.
  • @zetaraffix – Just enjoy it like a chat with friends
  • @AhsanParwez – Just think of it like any other online meeting and keep it natural. It will be done before you know it.
  • @DotheWoo -It’s been said so much already, but treat it as a conversation. A hallway chat at a WordCamp. Or sitting and having a coffee. 80% of those we have on our show are developers and most are nervous. But in the end, they have fun 🙂

Connect with the audience

  • @WilliamBay – It’s totally normal to be nervous, even for people that do it often. During a talk, or a podcast interview I try to get connected to the host or an audience member right away. That gets me out of my head.

Relax

  • @sashmograph – Slow down and breathe, and it’s ok to pause if you need a moment to think.
  • @adityakane – Remind yourself to breathe and keep a glass of water around.

Don’t ramble

  • @keepupwmrsjones – Be yourself, speak into the mic, try not to ramble, and stop talking if you feel yourself rambling. If the host is a good interviewer, they will know what to do.
  • @WebDesignPro48 – Prepare and prepare some more. Key points backed up with a little summary will help you when the nerves kick in. Try as much as possible not to say Er, or Erm, It’s really hard not to as many of us do this to fill the air in conversation. Good luck!
  • My 2 cents: I recently read a book by Scott Adams: How to fail at almost everything and still win big in which he mentions: Instead of using the filler words ah and um, try to take a breath and pause instead

Be yourself!

  • @yvettesonneveld – Allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect.
  • @JamesMPemberton – Let it rip! Just be you.
  • @wpdavidv – Remember the objective is to put on a good show and not to be perfect. with what you say. Be conversational and be *you* and everything else will work out.
  • @RianRietveld – Ask the questions beforehand. And relax, be yourself:-)
  • @2ndKauBoy– Just be the most authentic version of yourself. They have invited you for a reason

Prep your setup ahead of time

  • Make sure to have the podcasting instructions and setup ready (in case the host is using specific software or app, make sure you have it set up beforehand.)
  • Make sure to use headphones. Test your equipment ahead of time (including the microphone) and video if the video is recorded as well. Have a decent backdrop and remove clutter.
  • @jackomo – Do audio tests ahead of time. I suggest doing your own and making sure all your audio devices are charged the night or morning before.
  • @AhsanParwez – Check your sound and camera quality beforehand.
  • Make sure you’re in a quiet space. If you have a dog, make sure there is someone to watch over when that mailman stops at your doorstep. You don’t want to have a barking dog in the background as you talk!

What to do right before the interview

  • Close all applications and restart your computer.
  • Use the restroom and keep a bottle of water next to you.
  • Turn off the fan if you can. While doing the audio testing I found that the fan made a buzzing background noise.
  • Remember the name of the host and find out how you can pronounce their name.

Final thoughts

Thank you to the WP Briefing team for inviting me over and to Santana Inniss for helping me get the questions ahead of time. It was great to have a one-on-one chat with Josepha.

The show was a fun 20-minute podcast episode where I have a small bit along with 8 other guests from all around the world.

As much as I want to love podcasting, I have to say I enjoy singing into the microphone more than speaking into the microphone. But I’m up for doing a few more before I play favorites!


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