How to be a better podcast guest

by | May 17, 2016 | Inbound Branding

Promote thought leadership by being on a podcast. Here's how to make the most of the experience.

Demonstrate agency thought leadership by being a podcast guest! Here’s how to get the best results.

I’m a big fan of thought leadership as a way to get better clients at your marketing agency—after all, if someone reads or hears your advice and then reaches out to you, they’re pre-sold on your expertise.

Podcasts are a fast-growing format—listenership nearly doubled from 9% of Americans in 2008 to 17% in 2015. And Edison Research puts 2016 podcast listening at 21% of the U.S. population.

You don’t have to start your own podcast to take advantage of the trend—you can be a guest on someone else’s podcast!

Here’s my advice for you as an agency owner, based on my experience as a podcast guest on 15+ audio and video episodes. This assumes you’ve already been invited to be a guest—getting podcast interviews is a separate topic.

When You Book an Interview as a Podcast Guest

When you book your gig as a podcast guest, it’s time to set the stage.

1) Be clear on the audience and the host’s goals.

Knowing the audience is important, since it determines how much background info you share as you speak—a beginning audience needs more than an advanced audience. Knowing the host’s goals can help you tailor how you approach questions.

2) Be clear on your goal.

For most agency owners, the goal is for people to hire your agency to do marketing. If so, your job is to come across as knowledgeable and helpful. You also want to convey your personality—so if you make jokes, make jokes. If you’re serious, be serious.

3) Propose a topic or angle.

Make life easier for the host—they need to promote the episode later, and it’s easier when there’s a specific title or topic. “Talking with so-and-so about a million things” isn’t a great topic.

4) Coordinate how the recording will work.

Skype is the top method, but the host might be using another format like a Blab video. Connect with their account/user beforehand, and check that your microphone and headphones work. You may not need a fancy microphone—my MacBook Pro’s microphone gets great audio.

5) Block in an extra 30 minutes on your calendar.

My recordings always run long—the host will share an estimate and then we’re having a great conversation and suddenly we’re 20 minutes over their target length. Time goes quickly—pad your calendar.

A Week or Two Beforehand

As the recording approaches, make life easier for the host.

6) Send the host a list of potential questions.

In my experience, most hosts come up with their own questions—but no one’s going to say “no” if you send a list. Remember, make the host’s life easier—you know your topic better than they do, so you’ll know questions that will draw out key info.

7) Get your intro down.

In my experience, the host always asks me to introduce myself—so don’t be surprised by the question, and don’t meander. Have a pithy intro that conveys your benefit to your target market, and stop talking.

8) Think in stories and “3 steps.”

The audience will remember stories and your step-by-step frameworks. Building a connection—and making it easier to implement what you share—helps you connect with the audience. Connecting doesn’t guarantee you follow-on business, but you definitely won’t get any business if you don’t connect. Make a list of potential stories, so you can share them when appropriate.

9) Identify two “must-share” things—your top takeaway, and your “how to get in touch” option.

These are the things you’ll remind yourself that you must get into the interview. Highlight your top takeaway, since, well… you want people to get that. And think about your “get in touch”answer—this is your chance to get audience members on your email list. I recommend having an offer (free download, etc.) that’s relevant to the audience.

Right Before the Recording

When the recording call starts, focus on getting a great recording.

10) Eliminate distractions.

Turn off your phone, or at least disable notifications. Disable notifications on your computer. Turn off the air conditioning. Put up a “do not disturb” sign on your door. Use the bathroom. Get a glass of water.

11) Review housekeeping with the host before the recording starts.

Remind them how to pronounce your name, confirm their target length of time, and check if they’ll edit-out significant gaffes on your part.

12) Give yourself a pep talk if you need it.

You wouldn’t be there if the host didn’t think you’d be a good person to interview. If you aren’t as confident yourself—well, it’s too late to back out now! You’ll be great.

During the Podcast Recording

Most hosts describe their ideal recording as a conversation. Make your points but don’t be too focused on making your points. You’ll be surprised to see what resonates with the host and with audience members.

13) Think in soundbites, not monologues.

I struggle with this—I have to remember to stop to let the host ask questions. There’s a built-in lag—where the host is waiting to see if you’re stopping or pausing—which can be awkward.

14) Keep moving.

If you slip up and forget to mention something, don’t worry about it. No one knows you meant to mention a specific example, so keep going and don’t apologize. If you make a major mistake, pause and let the host know you’d like to start over. Their editor can use your temporary silence to find the spot.

15) Let the host drive the direction.

If they want to go on a tangent, that’s fine—remember that it’s their show. You can segue into things you want to share, but don’t try to take over.

After the Recording

Make post-production easier for the host, and prepare for sharing the episode. Remember, you and the host both want people to listen.

16) Share links for the show notes.

These can be links to your site—give readers deep links to key things you reference. Don’t have an article yet? Write it before you record the episode! It will help you organize your thoughts. I recommend creating the list before you record the episode, and then add new links if you mention something that has a relevant article.

17) Take a break.

Being “on” for a podcast recording can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Give yourself time before your next activity so you can reset.

18) Promote the show.

Helps you, helps them. I’ve seen episodes go live in a week… and others go live six months later. Check the listing—you may see the episode go online before the host tells you.

19) Bonus tip: Take improv comedy classes.

I took two semesters and it was a great investment. Coupled with Toastmasters and other speaking training, the improv classes helped me become better at thinking on my feet—talk about a transferable skill!

Be a Podcast Guest to Help Your Agency

By focusing on helping the host and the audience, you’re helping your agency. For examples of my experience as a podcast guest, see my Press/Media page. It’s always nice to get invited back—it’s a sign the host enjoyed having you as a guest, and likely got good feedback about you from their listeners.

Question: What’s your experience as a podcast guest?

Image credits: Podcast recording setup photo by Patrick Breitenbach, via Creative Commons

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