11 ways to prepare for your first podcast guest appearance
A podcaster has asked you to be a guest on her show. You might know this person or you might not. Regardless, if you've never been a podcast guest, one of two things — or maybe both — will happen:
- You will jump for joy.
- You will break out in a sweat and spend many sleepless nights worrying about it.
To fuel your excitement or anxiety, you visit the podcast, checking to see if it's audio only or video. Maybe you look for the numbers shared about audience reach and demographics. You may even consume some past shows to see who else has been on and what topics have been addressed.
At this point you might be wondering if you are worthy. Can you do it without bungling things?
If this is your very first podcast appearance, you will likely want to prepare.
The podcast will have a specific format, from simple and generalized to quite a narrow focus. With a little planning, you'll find that it can be a much more comfortable experience. So take a deep breath and prepare yourself for a good time.
Each host will probably have a list that they will send to you: reminders related to technical issues, topic and discussion format, etc. Go over this ahead of time to make sure you have yourself covered and you feel comfortable going into the show.
11 ways to prepare for your first podcast guest appearance
Here's a list of 11 best practices when it comes to preparing for your debut as a podcast guest:
Listen to a couple of past shows.
Revisit your technical equipment.
Know where that mute button is.
Ensure a smooth internet connection.
Find a quiet spot.
Read the show notes.
Be aware of time-sensitive information.
Do your own test run.
Make last-minute preparations.
Be yourself and enjoy the show.
Ready to make your debut? Let's dig in.
1. Listen to a couple of past shows
This helps you get a feel for the show, especially if you are not already a listener. But avoid comparing yourself to any particular guest.
Each podcast guest has their own style and brings something different to the table.
Listen for format and structure. Does the host pose more formal questions or is the conversation is more open-ended? Is the guest responsible for long stretches of content or is it more of a conversational back and forth?
Don't worry about the topics you listen to. At this point, you are listening for the feel and balance of the show.
2. Revisit your technical equipment
Most podcast hosts are hoping that you have a microphone of some sort. The mic on earbuds can work but if you have a separate mic available, it will help the sound quality immensely. Make sure you understand how to set the output levels on it to make sure you can adjust the volume to a high enough level.
I strongly suggest that you avoid the built-in mic on your computer.
It is more likely to create an echo, and if you are not wearing headphones or earbuds, the other voice will be a distraction.
3. Know where that mute button Is
Depending on how your host records, find the mute button on the app or service. That way if you have that tickle in your throat you have been holding back, or need that sip of water while your host is talking, you can easily mute yourself. It's an easy mistake for a first-time podcast guest. Just remember to unmute it in time when it's your turn to talk again.
4. Ensure a smooth internet connection
This really depends on your connection and what platform you are recording on. If it's video, it might be Google Hangouts or Facebook Live. With audio it may be Skype, Ringr or another audio recording platform. Or they might use Zoom, which can do either audio or video.
Whatever the case, I have found that it's best to close all apps that you can on your computer. If you do WiFi you might want to hardwire your internet in, if that's possible.
5. Find a quiet spot
Do your best to find a spot in your home or office that has the least amount of background noise. Sure, the kid running into your office or the dog barking suddenly is sometimes unavoidable. Or even the neighbor who decides it's the perfect time to blow all those leaves off their lawn.
Do what you can to prevent any interruptions.
Just because it's your first time as a podcast guest, it doesn't mean you have to be an amateur.
6. Read the show notes
As I mentioned earlier, most hosts will send their podcast guests show notes in plenty of time for you to prepare. They might include some of what I've already talked about plus an outline of your discussion. The latter might include questions you will be asked or general topics that will be discussed.
7. Ask questions
If your host doesn't share specific information that you think will be helpful on your end, don't hesitate to ask. And if you are someone who performs better when you are well-prepared, there is no harm in requesting these notes or questions well ahead of time. After all, if you are successful, your host and her show are successful.
On the flip side, if a question makes you uncomfortable, or you don't know how to respond to it — say, it falls out of your area of expertise — let your host know. The job of your host is to make this an enjoyable and relaxing experience and not something you are dreading.
8. Be aware of time-sensitive information
If you are pre-recording the show, and you have something you want to announce that is date-sensitive, clarify that with your host first. Many podcast hosts will record up to a few weeks, even months, before they air the show. So you will want to make sure that you are not sharing old news.
9. Do your own test run
Some people are scared to death of what they might sound like. In that case, do a mock podcast with a friend or family member. Don't obsess over the sound of your voice or the number of ums you repeat. If this is something you end up doing on a regular basis, it will all iron out over time and you will become even more comfortable sitting in the podcast guest seat.
10. Make last-minute preparations
Make sure your sound and internet are all set up 10 minutes or so before you join the call. And likely you will have a few moments in the beginning to get any-last minute questions answered from the host.
And again, make sure and ask them. In fact, if you are still nervous about the flow, don't be afraid to ask you host if it's possible to start over at any time. Of course, this would only be appropriate if it's pre-recorded vs. a Facebook Live or a Google Hangout. But even then, there will likely be time before you go live to get your questions answered.
11. Be yourself and enjoy the show
People listen to podcasts because they want to hear natural conversation between guests and hosts.
Be your natural self.
If the podcast is promoting your business, come across as the true professional that you are. And no matter what, don't come on like a drunken sailor and throw foul language around like you do when you are shooting pool. Unless, of course, that is the theme of the show.
Calm those first podcast guest appearance jitters
With these simple tips, you'll be right and ready to make your first podcast guest appearance. Just remember a these few technical and practical best practices and you'll be well on your way to becoming a star.