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17 Podcast Interview Tips & Questions To Be Prepared For
Appearing as a guest on a podcast, virtual summit, or radio show can be an outstanding marketing opportunity for your business.
These appearances are what’s known as “earned publicity,” the kind of publicity you get not because you paid your way into it, but because someone – in this case, the podcast, summit, or radio show host – recognized you as an expert in a certain area.
You’ve earned your moment in the spotlight, which gives you significantly more clout than self-publishing or pay-to-play type publicity.
The business benefits of guesting on podcasts, virtual summits, or radio shows (which for the most part I’ll refer to collectively as ‘podcasts’) are well recognized – audience growth, exposure to new markets, reputation enhancement, and so on.
But these benefits can only be realized if you are a stellar podcast guest – before, during, and after the podcast is recorded.
Podcast guests who make the most of their interview opportunities typically:
- are more well-spoken and confident during their interview
- are able to get their core message out more clearly
- are able to talk about their offerings without being sales-y,
- and build better relationships with the podcast host and their audience (which often leads to referrals and spots on other podcasts).
Many guides to podcasting focus on how to host the podcast.
Generally, people view the guests as having a pretty easy gig; let the host do the heavy lifting, you just show up and answer a bunch of podcast interview questions!
And while it’s true that the job of the guest is easier, that doesn’t mean that you can just sit back and relax.
People who don’t prepare for their interview or actively participate in its promotion don’t realize much of the ROI from their appearances.
If you want to get the most out of your interview opportunity, you’ll need to put effort into your preparation, performance, and participation in the show’s success.
As a public speaking and executive communication coach, I’ve helped more than a few people prep for interviews. I’ve also personally appeared on dozens of radio shows, have made regular TV appearances, and have participated in podcasts and online summits.
I’ve drawn from my own experience as well as those from other podcast and summit veterans to bring you this Ultimate Guide to Being an Outstanding Podcast Guest.
There are three parts to being an outstanding podcast guest:
- Preparation – what you do before the interview to get ready
- Presentation – how to be your clearest, most confident, most well-spoken self during your interview
- Participation – the behind-the-scenes work you need to do before and after to help get your interview to as many people as possible while building a great relationship with the podcast host
With this guide, you won’t just rock your next podcast interview opportunity, you’ll knock it right out of this world. Let’s get started!
Part 1: Preparation – how to get your message right
Just as with public speaking, coming across as natural, confident, and well-spoken on an interview is strongly tied to how much preparation you’ve put into it.
Preparation is the key to delivering a clear, memorable, well-spoken message.
1. Do your research
Before coming up with your key messages, power statements, or anything else you want to say on during your interview, you must spend time researching the show, the host, and the audience.
Every show’s audience is unique, and their specific concerns and interests are going to affect the angle from which you approach your topic.
The same goes for the show host – keep in mind that they’re the one asking the questions. The more you can speak to their interests, the more engagement you’ll get.
“I want them to know who my audience is so they can tailor their answers to my people. They can ask me at the beginning, so they don’t have to listen to my show beforehand (though that’s helpful too!)”
– Jaime Masters, Host of The Eventual Millionaire podcast
There are many ways to research the show, host, and the audience. Your first stop is the podcast host themselves. Get on a call and ask them direct questions about themselves, their audience, and their concerns.
Your podcast host knows their audience, so don’t dismiss this step because you think it’s too obvious, too easy, or will make you look unprofessional.
The podcast host will appreciate your attention to detail, and this is the quickest, easiest route to developing a deep understanding of the audience.
Next, look at the podcast’s website and listen to several previous shows. Is there a written blog that accompanies the show? Read that too and keep an eye out for repeating themes or ideas.
I find that searching for hashtags, blogs, websites, and YouTube videos that are popular with the target audience reveals a lot about a group’s current concerns.
I’ve even gone to Reddit, found the subreddits that represent an audience demographic, and have posted questions about current concerns or issues within that demographic.
Whenever I do this, I get loads of good intel that helps me become more knowledgeable and connected with the people who might be listening to my interview.
You want to be able to identify the demographics and psychographics of the target audience as closely as possible. Does the podcast appeal to millennials or Gen Xers? Is it industry-specific?
What level of income or education might this audience have? What struggles do they have due to current social or economic conditions? Get into their heads so that you can directly address their concerns and to make sure that you are speaking their language.
Consider the different interests and concerns of the podcast host as well. Some hosts have several websites – they might have one for the podcast, one for their larger business or associated businesses, and even a personal site.
Look at all these sites, as well as the host’s social media profiles, to get an idea of who the host is, what their interests are, and what their worldview is.
Who do they follow? What hashtags do they use? What’s their story?
Learn as much about them as possible so you can develop synchronicity with them and have a more natural, collegial conversation during the interview.
2. Frame your topic according to the audience’s context and needs
A common mistake made by interview guests (and most presenters or speakers, for that matter) is that they talk about their area of expertise from their perspective and context. The only context that really matters is the one of the audience.
“Really focus on the target audience and how they’re going to benefit Rather than thinking “what’s in it for me”, think about what’s in it for them.”
– Liam Austin, Co-Founder of Entrepreneurs HQ
To make your interview appealing for the audience, you need to discuss their topic as it relates to their interests and worldview. This might mean taking a more simplistic angle for your topic, or maybe only looking at a couple of sides of your issue – the sides that matter most to the audience – rather than digging into the deep stuff that you love.
This doesn’t mean talking about things the audience already understands or approves of. You can and should introduce the audience to new ways of doing things and new perspectives on your topic. After all, that’s why you’re there.
But you need to frame your new information in a way that’s relevant to the audience’s needs and can make sense within their worldview.
Here are some useful questions to ask yourself when figuring out how to frame your topic or information in the audience’s context:
- How does my knowledge in XYZ help this audience do ABC in their daily lives?
- What does this audience already know about XYZ?
- What preconceived ideas do they have about XYZ? How can I challenge those ideas?
- What is it about XYZ that’s keeping this audience up at night?
- What kind of questions about XYZ are people like this audience always asking me?
- What’s going on in the audience’s world that’s making XYZ especially relevant to them right now?
The answers to these questions are often found in the research you did in step 1.
This step is about compiling that information and using it to decide what will be most useful, interesting, or relevant to your audience.
This will help you plan targeted answers and stay focused, which means your wisdom will be easier for the audience to digest and you’ll be less likely to go on tangents during the interview.
How does this audience-centered framing work? Here are some different scenarios I’ve personally encountered:
- A podcast for people just entering the workforce: that audience is more likely to consist of inexperienced speakers who are nervous when presenting. I’d focus on ways they could manage their anxiety, keep their minds clear, and avoid tangents.
- A webinar for experienced salespeople: this audience is much more likely to have experience speaking to groups. I would get into more complex skills such as advanced persuasion strategies and stagecraft.
- A show focused on motivating and inspiring women entrepreneurs: this audience is typically introspective and dealing with a great deal of external pressure. I would frame my answers to emphasize mindset and confidence.
- A podcast that promoted itself as zeroing in on tactics and hustle: This show would attract a more extroverted or adrenaline-fueled listener. I would frame that same discussion to focus on strategy and external engagement.
I’m still discussing my core area of expertise in each of these examples, but I’m always reframing and changing the angle to focus on the values, realities, and the concerns of the audience.
3. Request podcast interview questions or outlines ahead of time
There are some people who insist that they prefer to be interviewed without any preparation for a more ‘authentic’ experience.
Unless you are a very, very experienced interviewee or podcast guest, I don’t recommend going this route. Preparation is at the core of sounding both polished and natural. For most people out there, this means having at least a rough idea of what questions you will be asked.
Often, hosts will be ready to send you their podcast interview questions or conversation flow, but if they don’t send them straight away, don’t hesitate to ask for the questions.
Some podcast hosts don’t like to stick to a specific set of interview questions, and some may balk at sending you any questions, saying they ‘just want to have a conversation’.
If this is the case, be persistent – ask for a rough set of ideas they’d like to touch on, or for a general plan for how they’d like the conversation to flow. The questions don’t need to be set in stone, but you do want some idea of what you’ll be discussing.
In addition to the interview questions you get from the podcast host, spend some time anticipating questions that could come out of the blue.
Good conversations and interviews tend to create plenty of unscripted questions, and you can still prepare for these.
To anticipate possible questions, ask yourself:
- What do people regularly ask you?
- What hot news events might be relevant to your topic?
- What sort of follow-up questions might come out of your answer to a planned question from the host?
Make a note of these questions and prepare for them as though they’re on the question list/conversation plan that the host sent you.
“What do guests who totally rock their interview all have in common? They’re prepared.”
– John Lee Dumas, Host of Entrepreneur On Fire
4. Practice giving unscripted answers
Podcast guests (and speakers in general) connect best with an audience when they speak in a natural, conversational fashion.
People can tell when you’re reading from a script, and when you rely on memorizing or reading overly scripted answers, you can get thrown off your game very easily if you forget a line or lose your place on the page.
A remarkable amount of practice and preparation goes into sounding natural and unscripted. Learning to speak naturally without a script is relatively simple but does require some thrashing.
Here’s how you thrash: Get your list of interview questions, pick one, and then answer it out loud without reading verbatim from a script.
You can jot down a couple of words to keep you on track, but don’t write out complete answers (this is a script, and scripts can do more harm than good). Don’t worry about making mistakes or giving terrible answers.
You will make mistakes, and yes – 90% of what comes out of your mouth the first couple of times will be garbage. But that’s the whole point of practicing: sound awful now so you can sound amazing later.
Once you’ve stumbled your way through your answer, do it again. And again. Rinse, wash, repeat. Don’t worry about giving the exact same answer or saying a line just so every time you do it.
The point isn’t to repeat your statements the same way every time, the point is to get used to thinking out loud about a given topic or idea. After all, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing during the interview.
Now move on to the next question. Do it again. And again. This will get you used to the process and give you a chance to experiment with your vocal tone, speed of speech, and so on.
Don’t spend hours at a time practicing – it can get overly tiring or frustrating. Just take a few minutes here and there.
Look for chunks of time throughout the day where you can slip in the practice. My favorite times are when I’m driving, when I’m out for a walk, when I’m in the shower, or when I’m doing chores around the house.
I cannot state this enough: this practice must be done out loud.
Running through answers in your head without actually speaking those words out loud won’t help your performance. Thinking, writing, and speaking all happen in different areas in your brain, and the point of this practice is to get the speaking and thinking areas of your brain firing together.
You will likely feel awkward while practicing. I completely understand. My clients feel awkward whenever they do this. Heck, even I feel awkward when doing this and I speak for a living!
Yes, this takes time and energy and willpower, but the results are worth it.
So pour yourself a glass of wine or a cup of tea and do it. This practice is going to result in you feeling more comfortable and sounding more polished come interview time.
Here’s some good news: every time you give an interview or a presentation, you’re practicing for the next one.
You’ll get better, more comfortable, more polished with each subsequent podcast appearance – and your practice will become faster and easier as well!
5. Build up a bank of stories and analogies
Do you have a few stories or analogies ready in your toolbox? If not, it’s time to put some together.
Stories and analogies are incredible tools for any podcast guest. They engage and satisfy the audience on several levels – they can simultaneously help the audience understand a complex concept while also showing your personality and interests and demonstrating your understanding of the audience all at the same time!
Humans love stories and using them helps the podcast audience connect with you better. Stories give our audiences a window into our mind and history, helping them feel as though they know and understand us.
Analogies work in a similar way – they’re shorter than stories but help communicate your personality and interests.
In an analogy, you explain one concept by comparing or relating it to something else. The sort of analogies you choose can give the audience a peek into how your brain works or other areas of expertise you may have.
Choose your stories and analogies thoughtfully.
You can pick the ones that either reveal something interesting about yourself (ie: talk about a personal experience or hobby) or demonstrate your understanding of the audience (ie: refer to an inside joke within their industry, mention the local sports team, talk about something that the audience has in common).
One of my personal favorites is a story about trying to persuade my son to eat broccoli.
I use it to teach how logic really works in an argument. This story lets my audience know me better, creates a shared experience (anyone in the room who has eaten dinner with a five-year-old understands the vegetable battle), and helps me quickly and easily explain what can be a rather murky concept.
I figured out this story and others well in advance of an interview or a talk, file them away in my mental bank so I can draw on them when appropriate.
Go over the podcast interview questions and your audience research and create a story and analogy bank that you can draw on at a moment’s notice during the podcast.
You don’t need that many – just a handful will do. Practice incorporating them into your answers.
6. Prepare your sound bites and power statements
Sound bites and power statements are gold in interviews. These short statements pack a big punch – they’re easy for the audience to remember, great for sharing in social media posts, and can act as headlines throughout the interview.
Your sound bites are also key areas for you to reinforce your core ideas and brand. You want to be able to sum up your big ideas or what it is you promise or stand for in a short, colorful way.
Here are some sound bites from EHQ mentors:
Michael Hyatt: “…the greatest happiness isn’t found in the achievement, but rather in the pursuit and the growth it requires.” (A regular theme of Michael’s work. This appeared in a written article, but he uses a version of this in many of his interviews. Very quotable.)
Jaime Masters: “We think we know what we’re doing with the time that we have.” (A challenging, memorable statement that reinforces Jaime’s strongly disciplined approach and tactical brand.)
Liam Austin: “You need to know exactly what differentiates the way you do business from all the others.” (Easy to share, has a lot of meaning in just a few words, gets people thinking.)
Sounds bites help you by making your message more memorable, and they help the host by giving them great nuggets to share on social media and highlight in their website or show site copy. Come up with a couple of good ones.
“An interview is going to go great when the guest comes to our event, The New Media Summit, understands how to add massive value for audiences, talks in soundbites, engages in actual dialogue (not a monologue) and recognizes the massive opportunity we are providing for them by handing them the microphone and putting them in front of our tribe, who many of us have spent years upon years cultivating.
– Steve Olsher, Host of Reinvention Radio and Beyond 8 Figures podcast
Part 2: Presentation – how to perform and sound your best
While it’s okay to make mistakes or stumble over the odd word during your interview, you want to set yourself up for success and sound your best throughout the interview.
Performing well means taking care of several details before the show, speaking with strength and clarity, and engaging with the host in a genuine conversation.
7. Get Your technology in order
Good podcast guests always sort out their technology prior to the interview. You don’t want to be thrown off by an unexpected tech glitch.
The podcast host can’t clear up everything in post-production, and it’s easier to prevent problems than fix them. This is especially important for live broadcasts and radio interviews, which typically have poorer quality audio to begin with.
There are several tech points you need to consider:
- Check the quality of your internet and/or telephone connection
There’s a basic rule for connections, whether internet or telephone: wired is better than wireless. When being interviewed online, try to plug into an ethernet cable connection – it’s typically more reliable than wifi.
The same goes for phone interviews.
Phone, you ask? Who interviews guests over the phone? Radio stations, that’s who – nearly all radio interviews are call-in.
Landlines are becoming less common than ethernet connections, so if you don’t have a landline available (I’m among the cellphone-only crew), make sure that you find a quiet location where you get full reception bars.
Have the call-in number available at your fingertips in case you get disconnected and need to rapidly dial-in.
- Use external microphones & headsets
The microphones that are integrated into your computer are usually poor quality, and the distance between your computer mic and your mouth can make your voice sound hollow.
You don’t need to splash out on an expensive mic to significantly boost the quality of your sound.
A cell phone headset often works very well. If you’re going to be doing lots of interviews or want to invest in a more robust mic for other reasons, good options are the ATR 2100-USB or the Blue Yeti.
Be sure to check your speaker set-up. You may get echoes or feedback on the call if your mic picks up the sound coming from your speakers. Many web conferencing programs, such as Zoom, are good at toggling between speaker and mic and eliminating feedback.
But if you hear any echoes or ambient noise on the call, plug in directly with earbuds or a headset to eliminate the problem.
A note for radio interviews – never, ever have the radio program you’re calling into playing in the background. This causes major echo problems.
- Do a pre-interview test to ensure tech compatibility
If you are guesting on a podcast for the first time, ask to connect briefly with the host over their video/audio conference software so that you can be sure the tech is working.
This is a short call that can save major headaches come interview time. Most radio shows are telephone call-ins and rarely able to offer a tech check.
Note – if you’re connecting over software that you personally use and are comfortable with, or if you are a repeat guest on a podcast or virtual summit, you might be able to skip this step.
“The #1 thing a podcast guest can do to make my life easier is to review the materials I send them beforehand and be prepared with their headset and microphone ready to go.”
– John Lee Dumas, Host of Entrepreneur On Fire
8. Choose an acoustically suitable space for the interview
Even with a good mic, the room that you do the interview in can significantly affect the quality of your sound. Take care of the following details before your interview:
- Choose a quiet space with few hard surfaces
Hard surfaces make for lively sounding rooms, where your voice will echo and bounce around, making you sound distant or hollow.
Don’t do your interview in a tiled kitchen or big open room prone to echoes – no matter how good it looks on camera! Retreat to a carpeted den, office, or bedroom instead.
Sit on a couch and put a blanket over your hardwood floor. I know people who do their interviews in small walk-in closets – clothes make great acoustic muffling.
I’ve had to do interviews in my car, and found they make surprisingly good acoustic environments, provided you aren’t on the side of a freeway.
- Turn off or silence any devices or appliances that might interrupt you
This might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget to set your phone on silent or turn off that overly chirpy notice chime on your laundry machine.
Take a minute to check your space for potentially interrupting appliances or devices which may be nearby (my printer is a common culprit – the darn thing has a mind of its own).
- Banish pets, children, and anyone else who might interrupt
Leave the dog outside and lock the cat in the bathroom. Make sure your partner or housemates know what time you’ll be busy recording your interview.
And if you’ve got kids, try to get them out of the house altogether. Kid-related interruptions happen even to the most buttoned-down experts.
My husband will take the kids for an outing or keep them otherwise occupied. And yes – this is one of the reasons I’ve retreated to my car on more than one occasion.
9. If the podcast or summit also has a video component, set up for good picture quality
Online summits are often done via video conference, and many podcasters also record video for broadcasting across multiple platforms.
There are three things to consider when you want to look good on camera:
Many smartphones have excellent cameras, but depending on your other tech (such as internet connection quality and microphones) you might want to connect via a laptop or desktop computer. Invest in a good quality HD webcam – they often cost around $100.
Even a good camera can’t overcome terrible lighting. You want bright, natural-looking light. If you can position yourself by a large, reliably sunny window, you’re set.
Otherwise, get whatever bright lamps you can get your hands on and light up your space. I do enough video work that I use a ring light to brighten my otherwise dungeon-dark office.
This doesn’t need to be complicated. Go with something that is pleasant to look at, but not overly distracting; it could be anything from a bookcase to drawn curtains to a blank wall. Don’t sacrifice your acoustics for a pretty looking space.
Remember, all that people need to see is your head and shoulder area, so just make that area behind you look decent and you’ll be good to go.
10. Take care of your physical comfort
Physical comfort matters when recording an interview! Being too cold or too hot can be distracting, as are bouts of dry mouth or the sudden need to hit the loo (it’s hard to focus on your next clever statement when you’re clenching everything). Be sure to take care of the following:
- Temperature regulation
Temperature affects vocal tension and having freezing cold hands or sweating like you’ve just run a marathon will make you feel more self-conscious. Adjust the room temperature and wear clothes that keep you appropriately cool/warm.
- Pre-interview bathroom trip
Yes, I realize that I sound like everyone’s mother (“one more trip to the bathroom before getting in the car!”), but nervous bladder is a thing and I’ve had more than one client get distracted by this kind of discomfort.
Have water or other thin, slightly cool beverage on hand. Dry mouth is a natural physical symptom of nervousness and all the air going in and out of your mouth while speaking can make you sound smacky. Choose something cold or room-temperature.
Avoid hot drinks – I’ve made the mistake of scalding my mouth on overly hot tea during an interview (talk about a stupid and easily avoidable mistake!).
Do not use carbonated beverages – they cause belching. Also, avoid dairy/dairy-like beverages since they can coat your throat and make your voice sound thick.
- Make yourself comfortable
Be sure that you’re seated comfortably and that you have whatever you need at hand – tissues, your notes, and any other items you need to feel focused and at ease.
11. Speak at a moderate pace with strength and clarity
Speaking technique and mannerisms matter, especially when the audience can’t see your body language.
There is a technical side to speaking well on an interview, and you want to be mindful of your speaking technique while you’re practicing so that you speak properly and clearly during the interview itself.
- Speak at a slow but conversational pace
Nervousness or adrenaline causes most of us to speak faster than we should; this leads us to mumble and stumble over our words, and limits how much time our audience has to digest what we’re saying.
It takes time to hear, interpret, and understand what someone is telling us, and by speaking too fast, you don’t give the listeners that precious time.
Another advantage of speaking more slowly is that it can convey confidence and authority to listeners.
Overly excited teenagers speak a million miles a minute; experienced, confident leaders speak at a much more measured rate.
Aim for a slow-but-conversational speed – the speed you would use to speak with someone you knew well, respected, and wanted to impress. For you numbers hounds, this usually falls to a rate of 160 to 190 words per minute.
Keep in mind that this is still a decent clip, and the 190 WPM mark can seem quick to some people.
But overall, that is a good range to speak in to give off the impression of energy and engagement while still giving the audience enough time to properly hear and understand you.
Another method you can use to slow yourself down is pausing frequently.
Pausing gives your words more punch, and it’s an especially effective way to let your power statements really “sink in”.
Give yourself lots of space for silence – it will help your audience take in every bit of what you have to say.
- Use good vocal strength and support
Even though you may be speaking with a microphone located mere inches away from your mouth, you still want to speak clearly, with a strong and well-supported voice.
Speaking with strength isn’t the same as shouting; instead, it’s the quality of richness in tone present in confident, practiced speakers.
Much of this strength comes from proper muscular support, particularly through the core abdominal muscles.
To get this support, you want to lightly engage your abs, as though you’re about to do a crunch, and breathe into the lower part of your lungs.
The key to achieving this is posture. If you’re sitting during your interview, be sure to sit up straight, with your abdominal muscles engaged.
Don’t lean back in your chair or slump forward and hunch your back.
Sit up tall so that your vocal cords and lungs can work properly, and focus on sending your energy and tone to the computer monitor or wall opposite of you.
An easy hack to give your voice more energy or engagement is to stand up while doing your interview.
A headset with a long cord, a wireless lav mic, a standing desk, or even a few boxes you can prop your laptop on can make this possible.
Many people find that standing gives them better core vocal support and a boost of energy that comes through beautifully in the podcast audio.
- Limit ‘ums’, ‘ahs’, and other fillers…but don’t stress out about them either
Filler comes in many shapes and sounds, including um, ah, you know, like, so, that’s a great question, etc.
Fillers are a natural part of our language; they’re little pauses in speech that give us time to gather our thoughts and figure out what to say next.
Everyone uses fillers from time to time, and the good news is that, for the most part, audiences don’t really notice them.
Fillers are only a problem when they’re used so frequently that they become distracting or make it hard to understand what you’re trying to say.
But if you find yourself saying “like” every five words or saying “that’s a great question…” every time your host asks one, it’s time to start paying attention to your fillers.
The easiest way to eliminate fillers is to first slow down your speech.
When we speak too quickly, our mouth can get ahead of our brain, and that’s where those ‘likes’ and ‘y’knows’ pop up more frequently.
Speaking slowly gives you time to think and choose your words.
The next step is to get comfortable with the sound of silence and learn to take pauses while collecting your thoughts.
This practice can actually make you seem more thoughtful, intelligent, and authoritative to your audience, as you’re literally giving them the chance to listen to you think for a second or two.
- Avoiding interrupting or speaking overtop your host
Interrupting or talking over one another can be hard to avoid during a podcast interview.
It’s tempting to jump in with an answer to show how quick and knowledgeable you are.
Unfortunately, it usually just makes the speaker seem jumpy and nervous. Lag times in web conferencing software can also contribute to both people speaking at the same time.
The strategy to eliminate these interruptions is similar to that for eliminating filler noises: slow down and build a habit of pausing for a moment after someone finishes speaking before jumping in.
The pause doesn’t need to be long – half a breath will do, but it gives the person time to finish speaking and gives you a moment to decide how you’ll respond.
- Avoid upspeak and trailing off
Of all irritating vocal habits people mention, upspeak and trailing off (a key trait of that infamous “vocal fry”) top the list.
Everyone engages in both of these habits from time to time, and the occasional slip up isn’t a problem.
But much like filler words, too much upspeak and trailing off can make you sound uncertain, unpolished, or juvenile.
Upspeak is the habit of finishing a thought or sentence on a rising note as if you’re asking a question.
This often happens when someone is still hashing through their own thoughts, or when they’re checking in with others to see if they’re in agreement.
Try to avoid this unless you’re actually asking a question, as it can leave the audience confused.
They will wonder whether you’re asking a question or if you haven’t yet finished your thought. This habit can also make it seem as though you’re seeking approval, which decreases your impression of confidence and authority.
Trailing off is when the voice gets weaker and softer at the end of a sentence – it’s a drop in both volume and energy.
When people speak about ‘vocal fry’, they’re often talking about a gravelly tone combined with trailing off.
It’s the trailing off that’s the real problem, rather than the gravelly voice.
Picture ending every sentence with an ellipsis (those three dots that sometimes show up at the end of sentences). “We launched the campaign and grew our list from 29 to 3000 in two weeks, soooo…”.
Trailing off makes it seem as though you’re bored and disinterested in either the topic or in the podcast audience or host.
It can also sound as though you don’t know how to finish your thoughts.
The fix for both of these habits is the same: focus on hitting that period or full stop at the end of each sentence with intention and energy.
Speak in statements and declarations, picturing your voice hitting that period with a bit of heft and a slight drop in tone.
You can keep your overall energy upbeat and incorporate plenty of expressions while you speak, but when you’re driving a point home or finishing a thought, do so with that extra push and slight drop. It will give your words more importance and impact.
12. Have a real conversation with the host
“I know an interview is going to go great when I’m having lots of fun, and I’m learning new things too.
I get goosebumps when me and my guest are really in sync and getting a lot of really great content for my listeners!”
– Jaime Masters, Host of The Eventual Millionaire
Good podcast guests avoid monologuing. While you’re there to provide expertise, you still want to keep the interview conversational. The host knows their audience and is keen to create great content, so by giving them plenty of space to talk, you’ll allow them to guide the conversation towards what their listeners value most.
Lots of going back-and-forth also helps you and your host get on the same page about a subject and then dig in deep – possibly deeper than originally planned.
Conversations fire up our social brain and listening to the podcast host and guest have an energetic back-and-forth helps the audience feel like they know and trust you because the host (whom they already know, like, and trust) is clearly enjoying themselves.
When you give the host some space to speak, you’re giving them space to engage with you and explore the topic.
That’s an exciting place to be, especially for podcast and virtual summit producers, who are typically curious people who love learning.
Their energy and engagement will be picked up by the audience.
To make sure that your host gets time to speak, be sure to put the ball in their court every now and then.
One of the best ways to do this is to ask the host questions. Ask them to give you an example, to clarify a question or idea, ask them what their opinion on a topic is, ask them to share a personal story, have them guess answers to bits of related trivia.
While we often see questions in interviews as only flowing towards the interviewee, a good podcast guest knows that they’re allowed to ask the host questions as well, creating a deeper and more dynamic experience for the host and the audience.
13. Talk like a human
Speaking like a normal person and sounding relaxed and in the moment takes practice.
There are a few habits that will help you sound especially natural and at ease – even if it takes practice to get them right.
- Let your excitement, engagement, and emotion come through in your voice
A big part of ‘sounding human’ is letting the audience hear our emotions and interest.
For many – especially if you’re naturally reserved or introverted – this means emoting more than you’re used to.
The audience isn’t with you in the room or inside your head; they can’t experience your emotions as strongly as you can.
You need to turn up that emotive volume for them to pick up on your engagement and passion for your topic.
Being more expressive than you normally won’t sound strange or over-the-top to the audience; instead, it will make you seem more transparent and likable.
“Guests who are confident, smiling, and excited always make me happy. That excitement transfers onto me as a host and onto the attendees, which makes attendees more likely to listen and be excited about implementing what they’re learning.”
– Liam Austin, Co-Founder of Entrepreneurs HQ
Think of emoting like stage makeup – if a ballet dancer or theatre actor was to come out on stage wearing no makeup or even normal daily makeup, they wouldn’t appear “natural” to the audience.
Because of the stage lights and the distance between them and their audience, they’d look washed out and blank. It would be harder for the audience to connect with them.
The same goes for your voice.
Some extra variation in your pitch and a little more excitement than you’d normally express will help you overcome the distance and “washing out” created by the audio or video recording.
Practice playing with varying your vocal pitch, your speed of speech, and even using more facial expressions or body language (energy in body language often comes through in our voice).
Be 10% more expressive than you think you should be, and 30% more expressive than you usually are.
The audience will feel like they know what’s going in on your head, which will make you sound more like a likable human being instead of a lofty, robotic “expert.”
- Use contractions and informal speech patterns
When we’re speaking in conversational, social settings, we tend to use far more contractions, slang, and informal language than we do when we write.
This is a big reason for only creating ultra-brief notes for your answers rather than scripting them out.
When you memorize or read from a script, you’ll likely use very few contractions and more formal or complex language than you would if you were simply speaking to someone.
Ditch the script and practice improvising your answers with just a few notes to guide you; this will help you speak naturally, as though you were having a friendly conversation with the audience rather than giving them an academic lecture.
- Avoid jargon or industry-specific language
It’s easy to fall into the trap of using terms that are familiar to you but completely foreign to your audience.
This typically happens when we’re talking about an area where we have deep expertise, especially when the jargon isn’t easily translated into easy-to-understand terms.
Watch your language for jargon, acronyms, and overly technical terms.
Don’t use a five syllable word when a two syllable word will do. Respect your audience but also make it easy for them.
This isn’t about speaking down to anyone or dumbing down your content.
It’s about making your language clear and accessible for the people listening, knowing that they might not be familiar with your field and probably don’t have as deep of an understanding as you do.
After all – that’s exactly why you’re being interviewed in the first place.
Part 3: Participation – How to promote, add value, and build relationships
“It makes me super happy when a guest is as enthusiastic about providing valuable content and as grateful for the opportunity to speak to Fire Nation as I am.”
– John Lee Dumas, Host of Entrepreneur On Fire
14. Refer to your work, your connections, and your offerings without being sleazy or salesy
Many of us have a natural tendency to be humbler than we should.
As a podcast guest, your achievements, connections, and knowledge are all precisely what makes you valuable to the host and the listeners.
One part of your job is to make your message easy for the audience to ‘get’, and part of this means giving the audience proof that you know what you’re talking about and are worth their time and brain space.
Some of that credibility is already established by having been invited on the show or summit – the host has already vetted you.
However, you still want to drip in credibility references throughout your interview to reinforce your brand, including your achievements and your connections (social proof). Here’s where the much-maligned humblebrag and name-drop come in handy… provided you do it well.
The key to effectively referring to your achievements and great connections is to make it sound like a natural and objective part of the conversation.
As soon as you start explaining away your achievements (ie: “I got lucky, I’m not really that good…”) or couching a positive trait as a negative (“my biggest weakness is that I care so much…”), you’ll be crossing into gross humblebrag territory.
Name-dropping goes bad when you refer to people with little reason to do so, or when you give a laundry list of big names instead of just mentioning one relevant person or client.
Instead of downplaying your achievements, state them as objective fact and be sure they’re relevant to the story your telling.
For example, when interviewers ask me how I got into coaching leaders on public speaking skills, instead of humblebragging:
- when people asked me to teach them how to give presentations like me, I thought “oh no! I can’t do that!” (ugh, disgusting…)
I instead own my skills and reply in a more confident and objective manner:
- “When people asked me to teach them how to give presentations like me, I was surprised – it hadn’t occurred to me. But when I thought about it, it made sense. Yes, I have a background using these skills, I’ve learned what strategies work and why – of course, I’ll do this!”
Similarly, when you choose to name-drop, make sure the name you’re dropping is relevant and don’t overdo it. Instead of inserting a random story about how you were on the phone with Big Person So-and-So or out kitesurfing with Very Influential Influencer, look for answers where the name-drop makes sense.
For example, I often get asked about who struggles the most with their speaking, and I use this as a chance to refer to the high-level clients I work with:
- “Nearly everyone struggles at some point.Introverts, extroverts, they both struggles. I’ve worked with people at all career stages, from interns to CEOs, small not-for-profits like ABC and big international companies like XYZ.They all struggle because good public speaking is a practiced skill, not an inborn trait.”
The client name-drops are in context and made without fanfare – that makes them palatable and natural, while still reinforcing credibility and connections.
The last piece of this puzzle is mentioning what else you have to offer the audience – a soft pitch of your product or service.
Much like name-dropping, this is often best done within the context of a story or an answer to a question you’ve been asked. For example:
- “While researching my book, I learned…” (tells people you have a book available)
- “I found that so many people were experiencing the same frustration, and I couldn’t possibly help everyone individually. That’s why I created Awesome Online Course, to help those people make real progress in their work…” (directs people to your online course)
- “This is a real difficulty and a common one at that. This is exactly why my business has grown and I’ve got a waiting list for one-on-one coaching…” (tells people that you offer 1-on-1 service and are in high demand)
These examples do seem like blatant self-promotion when listed in isolation, but as long as they’re relevant, they’ll blend in nicely to the conversation.
A crucial point to successful bragging, name-dropping, and soft pitches is to use them sparingly. These tactics can quickly reach sleazy/salesy levels when the guest overdoes them, harping on too long about their incredible contacts list or awesome offers to the audience.
Stick to just a few choice mentions, and you’ll be able to both demonstrate your credentials and tell listeners how they can get more of your help and wisdom.
15. Have a freebie available for the audience
Freebies, free resources, downloadables, lead magnets – whatever you call them, they give both you and your host the chance to extend the value of your interview.
They’re also an important way for you to maximize the audience-growth opportunity of being a podcast guest.
Freebies are typically made available to listeners in exchange for opting into your email list. The free resource should be something immediately useful to the audience and relevant to the topics discussed during your interview.
You may want to offer a downloadable worksheet that helps people take action on a process you described during your interview.
It could be a free audio recording where you dig deep into a related topic. It could be a checklist, a book chapter, or any number of things.
It should not be something that isn’t obviously related to what you discussed in the interview; this will confuse the audience and wouldn’t reflect well on your brand.
When developing your freebie, make sure you take the following steps:
- Ask the host’s permission to offer a freebie.
Some hosts are protective of their own lead magnet setups.
It’s also basic politeness to ask someone for permission and not surprise them during the interview with a lead magnet/freebie offer to their audience.
Additionally, the host may want to add your freebie URL to the show notes, in which case they’ll need the URL ahead of time.
- Make the freebie available at an easy-to-remember URL.
It shouldn’t be difficult for the listener to remember or scribble down the address. I recommend having all or a portion of the show title in the URL.
For example, if you were a guest on a podcast called “Lead to Win”, you could make freebie URL YourDomain.com/Lead .
- Ensure the freebie is tied to an email nurture sequence.
Only appearing in someone’s inbox to deliver the freebie and then disappearing from view won’t help your newly acquired subscribers engage with your content.
Click here for an excellent guide to email nurture sequences.
16. Promote the ever-living daylights out of the show
As a guest on a podcast or virtual summit, you become a partner in your episode’s success.
Your job doesn’t begin and end with the recording. It starts before your show first airs and long after its original release date.
Prior to the show’s airing, tease it out on your personal, professional, and social networks.
Send out email newsletters about the show, post links to the podcast’s website on your social platforms, and chat it up to your friends and colleagues.
Double your efforts on the week that the show airs, and continue posting links to it after it is released. Generate as much excitement as you can, and encourage people to engage with the podcast by liking, subscribing, and leaving reviews on the episode.
When promoting the show to your social media channels, be sure to tag the people involved, particularly the show host.
If the host and the podcast or summit have separate social media profiles, tag them both.
Search out the hashtags that the host uses and look up additional hashtags relevant to the topic discussed during the interview. You should also share and reply to any other posts or comments about your episode. This shows the host and audience that you are engaged, and will help the posts reach more people.
Use social media scheduling tools, such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, to your advantage. Schedule several posts that link to the podcast or summit website for the week or two leading up to the release date of your episode, and then have several posts that link directly to your episode scheduled for the release date and the week following.
After this, you can pull back somewhat on the frequency of social media shares, dripping out posts with your episode link a few times a week for the next couple of months.
If the topic that you discussed on the podcast or virtual summit appears in the news or current affairs, use this as an opportunity to jump on that bandwagon and share links to your interview again. Update your hashtags so they match those being used in the news cycle or trending on social media.
And remember to like, subscribe, and leave comments or reviews of the show yourself! Every review and subscription matters, and the host will appreciate your involvement in the success of their show.
17. Follow up with the host
You can continue to develop a good relationship with the show host long after your interview is released.
The weeks and months following your show should be used for following up and staying engaged with your host, all in the purpose of building a strong, lasting relationship with them.
Podcast, virtual summit, and radio show hosts care deeply about their work and put a lot of effort into creating a valuable resource for their audiences and a good experience for their guests.
Handwritten notes or cards recognizing their efforts and thanking them for inviting you on their show are all different kinds of meaningful gestures which are sure to make the host smile.
I keep every thank-you card I get from clients, colleagues, and yes – people who have appeared on my own YouTube show.
Every time I send a thank-you card to a host, I get a happy response from them. Spend a stamp and send a card – it’s more meaningful than an email.
Another great way to follow up is to help make the host’s work a little easier. Here are some ways to do this:
- Recommend other guests
Finding good guests can be a lot of work. If there are people in your professional or personal network who would be a good fit for the show, offer their contact information to the podcast host.
- Offer further assistance
There might be other ways you and the host can work together.
Do you offer a service that might interest them? Is there a project where the two of you would be good partners? Do you know of any resources that could be useful to them in some way, or is there one you could create for them?
Offer your assistance for other projects or initiatives.
- Continue promoting the show
Becoming an enthusiastic fan of the show is a great way to show the host your enthusiasm for their work and keep your relationship active.
Don’t stop at promoting and sharing your episode, share other episodes as well. Leave reviews on different platforms, and help other people find the show or summit as well.
Being a true fan is a meaningful form of follow up and assistance; your host will be happy that you’re helping others find them, and your own audience will benefit from the great resources you’re sending their way.
“A great podcast guest is one who has listened to at least a few of our shows, understands our flow, what we’re looking for in guests, and knows how to add value for our audience. An even better guest is one who has done that and rated, reviewed, and subscribed to our show. And an even better one than that is someone who has done all of the above and is willing to share their appearance enthusiastically with their tribe.”
– Steve Olsher, Host of Reinvention Radio and Beyond 8 Figures podcast
CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made it to the end of the Ultimate Guide to Being an Outstanding Podcast Guest.
It’s a lot to take in, but if you implement these steps, you’ll be the sort of guest that podcasters, virtual summit hosts, and radio show hosts dream of… and the sort of guest who gets invited back and referred to other shows.
What’s more, you’ll be building valuable relationships while polishing your own professionalism and speaking skills.
Now get out there and rock that interview!