How to prepare for a podcast interview

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Podcast guest appearances offer a platform to share expertise, promote brands, and connect with new audiences. And there are some ways to be ready to shine when the mic turns hot, and the questions start flying. Here are the top tips I take to prepare for a podcast interview.

Here are the areas to focus on:

Understanding the show and its style

It does start with understanding the show. What is covered, what’s the style, and how about the flow? For example, on my show, we fist bump, so when people roll their eyes at that (which is rare), I wonder why they even wanted to be a guest.

Listen to past episodes to prepare for a podcast interview

Spending time listening to several episodes of the podcast is crucial. I, for once, love when people reference prior episodes while we are getting ready and definitely while on-air. It ties things together a bit more, too. Pay attention to the host’s interviewing style – is it casual, formal, or more debate-oriented? Notice how episodes are structured, including how the host opens and closes the show and any recurring segments. Consider the overall tone: Is it light-hearted or serious? Fast-paced or more relaxed? Listen to the types of questions the host frequently asks.

Immersion in the podcast’s content provides valuable insights into what to expect and how to tailor one’s approach.

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Research the host and audience

Preparation should extend beyond listening to episodes. Read the podcast’s “About” page and any available show notes. Look up the host’s background and interests. Examine the podcast’s social media presence to understand its audience demographics and engagement style.

Conducting thorough research helps connect more effectively with both the host and listeners during the interview.

Pre-interview communication

I have a process to help guests prepare. I send a number of emails, including:

Taking full advantage of comprehension is beneficial.

Respond promptly to any questionnaires or preparation materials sent by the show. Review any outline of topics or questions the host plans to cover. Ask questions about the format, technical requirements, or any unclear areas.

Clear communication before the interview sets the stage for a smooth and productive conversation.

Read next: How to improve the podcast guest experience

Crafting the message

With a solid understanding of the show, focus on content and presentation and make it fun – or at least conversational.

Identify key points

Determine 3-5 main points to convey during the interview. These points should be relevant to the podcast’s theme and audience, aligned with the guest’s area of expertise, and offer value to listeners. Be nimble, though, if the hosts asks questions that seem not aligned with your key points.

Having these points clearly defined helps maintain focus and ensures value delivery, even if the conversation takes unexpected turns.

Prepare stories and examples

People relate to stories – over just data or monotonous speeches. Consider using the STORY framework, which was discussed by Kristian Aloma on “The Business Storytelling Show.”

Situation: Set the scene and introduce the characters.
Task: Explain the challenge or goal.
Obstacles: Describe the difficulties faced.
Response: Detail the actions taken.
Yield: Share the outcome and lessons learned.

Include vivid details in stories. Paint a picture with words describing sights, sounds, smells, and feelings. Listeners will connect emotionally and remember the message more easily.

Ensure stories directly illustrate key points and provide value to the audience. Aim for concise stories that can be told effectively in 2-3 minutes. Conflict and resolution keep listeners engaged. My episodes are 24 minutes since they also run on DBTV, so if a guest wants to make five points, that’s basically four minutes per point, and that includes me sharing my stories. The time flies.

Whenever possible, share personal anecdotes or directly witnessed experiences. Storytelling gains authenticity and credibility through these firsthand accounts.

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Choosing the right words

Body language, tone, and word choice all matter. Consider these tips for effective communication:

Tailor language to the podcast’s audience. Use technical terms for industry-specific shows, but opt for simpler language for general audiences.

Practice concise communication. Use the right words, but avoid unnecessary ones. Clear, to-the-point communication respects the listener’s time and maintains engagement.

Employ descriptive language. Choose words that evoke vivid images and emotions when telling stories or explaining concepts.

Opt for active voice to make speech more dynamic and easier to follow.

Consider using nouns over verbs for persuasion. For example, asking someone to “be a helper” can be more effective than asking them to “help.”

Be mindful of potentially sensitive terms. When in doubt, use neutral language to avoid unintentionally offending listeners.

Prepare a few memorable phrases or one-liners that encapsulate the main points. These can serve as “sound bites” that stick with listeners and are great for promotions.

How I make clips from podcasts. Click to find out and try

Technical preparation

Ensuring the right setup for the interview is crucial for audio quality and overall performance.

Use a high-quality microphone for clear audio. Test the internet connection to prevent disruptions – but a hardwire isn’t required with the right setup. If podcast guesting is a regular strategy, consider a proper studio-type setup. Keep water nearby to maintain voice quality throughout the interview.

Ensure lighting is good and your background that will be visible represents you well.

Consider familiarizing yourself with the recording software the podcast uses well before the interview day. For my show, simply click on the backstage link in the invite. Proper preparation helps increase comfort and focus during the actual interview.

Read next: Leave an impression: How to be a good podcast guest

During the interview

Once the recording begins, keep these strategies in mind to ensure a smooth and engaging conversation:

Give the host full attention and avoid distractions. If recorded with video on or in the case of a video podcast, nod your head while the host is speaking. Don’t step over them.

Repeating the questions

Incorporating the essence of the question into the answer is a crucial technique for both clarity and content creation. Here’s why it’s important and how to do it effectively:

To repeat questions effectively:

Rephrase them rather than repeating them exactly. Use key terms or phrases from the question in the answer to maintain context. Keep the repetition brief – provide context without spending too much time restating the question. Adapt to the flow of the interview, adjusting the approach based on pace and style.

Read next: Crafting your company story: The core of B2B content marketing

Handling unexpected questions

Despite thorough preparation, unexpected questions may arise. Here’s how to handle them:

Stay calm, and remember it’s okay to pause briefly before answering. Be honest if unsure about something – it’s better than guessing. Try to connect the unexpected question to one of the prepared topics if possible. For complex issues that can’t be fully addressed at the moment, offer to provide more information after the interview.

And most podcast hosts – especially of branded podcasts – aren’t out to get you. So no need to mistake “The Business Storytelling Show” with hard-hitting journalistic shows like “60 Minutes.”

So, while it’s important to consider how to prepare for a podcast interview, it’s also good to not overengineer it. If you know your topic, that’s half the battle. Now get a good mic and have a conversation.

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