How to prepare for a podcast interview as a guest

Been invited to give an interview for a podcast episode?

Congrats – you’re well on your way to strengthening your personal brand and boosting your blog’s SEO, while also improving your presentation skills.

But to get maximum value from your podcast interview session, it pays to be prepared. So let’s find out how to prepare for a podcast interview.

I’ve been interviewed on a wide range of podcasts, from the US Army’s Convergence podcast, to my latest appearance on the How The Fxck marketing podcast.

Here’s the 18 step checklist I always use to prepare for every podcast interview.

  1. Put the date in your diary
  2. Listen to a few episodes
  3. Learn a few things about the host
  4. Prepare answers for recurring questions
  5. Have your ‘origin story’ ready
  6. Prepare key talking points, but not a script
  7. Get a decent microphone
  8. Know the format
  9. Drink hot water with honey to keep your throat clear
  10. Have water on hand (but don’t slurp)
  11. Arrive a few minutes early for a sound check
  12. Make sure your phone is OFF
  13. Give the interview standing up
  14. Avoid waffling and monologues
  15. Be energetic and show enthusiasm
  16. Treat the interview as a conversation
  17. Be genuine
  18. Provide key takeaways

Let’s look at each step in more depth.

How to Prepare For a Podcast Interview (18 Step Checklist For Being a Great Guest)

#1. Put the date in your diary

You’ve gone to all the effort to secure this podcast appearance, so make sure the slot is booked in your calendar and you’ve set a reminder.

#2. Listen to a previous episode

I always listen to the previous episode as part of my preparation. This helps me in several ways: it gives me a sense for the host’s interviewing style, it makes me aware of any repeated questions, and it gives me something to refer back to in the interview.

If you have time, listen to several different episodes. I like to play them while I’m taking my morning walks.

#3. Learn a few things about the host

I always Google the host to get a sense for them and their personal interests. I might look at their LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or personal website.

Having that little bit of background knowledge makes it easier to build rapport with them during the interview itself.

#4. Prepare answers for recurring questions

Many podcasts will have several questions that they ask every guest. Sometimes these can catch you out, so it’s best to be prepared with your answers. Listening to a previous episode will make sure you’re ready for this. Sometimes the host will let you know in advance, so you can work this into your prep.

#5. Have your ‘origin story’ ready

Often, the host will start by asking you for an introduction. It’s best to go in with something already prepared. I don’t prepare the whole interview this way, but I do like to practice my introduction a couple of times. Try to keep your intro concise, interesting, and relevant to the overall topic of the podcast.

#6. Prepare key talking points

A good podcast interview should feel like an interesting conversation with a friendly colleague. You don’t need to script out your answer to every question in advance. Personally, I don’t like having the questions in advance. It always tempts me to over prepare and I end up sounding too stilted.

Instead, I like to prepare several key talking points, which I aim to mention during the interview. But I don’t worry too much if I’m unable to mention them. It’s best to go with the flow and let the host lead the way.

#7. Get a decent microphone

Sound quality is all important for a podcast interview. You don’t have to provide fancy recording equipment. Personally I like to use a lapel microphone to get the best quality for my voice without spending a fortune. It’s small, low-cost and plugs into my laptop and clips onto my collar.

#8. Know the recording format

It’s best to be familiar with whichever software the host is using to record the interview. Typically, that’s Zoom, but it could also be Skype or Google Meet. Make sure you’ve tested the setup before recording day comes around.

#9. Drink hot water with honey to keep your throat clear

I sometimes get a hoarse throat when talking at length. To avoid excessive throat clearing, I like to drink a cup of hot water and honey before starting the interview. It soothes the throat and lubricates the vocal cords, improving the sound of my voice for the interview.

#10. Have water on hand

It’s also a good idea to keep a glass of water next to your laptop, so you can take quick sips during the interview as needed. Just try not to slurp too much!

#11. Arrive a few minutes early for a sound check

The host will usually build enough time into the meeting slot to do a sound check, but I like to get there a little early to familiarise myself and make sure my setup works correctly.

#12. Make sure your phone is OFF

Maybe a no brainer, but check it anyway. I prefer to use Airplane Mode.

#13. Give the interview standing up

I prefer to give online interviews while standing up. It gives me confidence, an extra energy boost and avoids any risk of slumping into the chair, which can interfere with my voice quality.

#14. Avoid waffling and monologues

Giving a good podcast interview is a fine balance of being too short with your answers and going off into a waffling monologue. You’ll get the hang of this with practice.

Try to stay concise while providing enough detail to make your answer interesting. Don’t forget to treat the interview as a two-way conversation, not just you giving a speech.

#15. Be energetic and enthusiastic

I like to go in with a high level of energy and enthusiasm, which then carries through in the sound of my voice. I only choose podcasts that I personally find interesting and energising, so I’ve never had a problem mustering these moods.

#16. Treat the interview as a conversation

Knowing how to prepare for a podcast means treating the interview as a conversation.

I can’t stress this one enough. It’s a conversation between two colleagues about a topic of mutual interest. It’s not a job interview. You’re not on trial. There’s no right or wrong answer.

You’re doing the host a favor by lending your expertise to their podcast. So relax and enjoy it. If you find something funny then it’s okay to laugh, and it’s okay to uhm and ah while figuring out your answer.

#17. Be genuine

Avoid putting on a fake personality for your podcast interview. The host chose you because they think your personal brand and story would interest their audience. So there is no need to put on anything fake. Just be yourself.

#18. Provide key takeaways

I like to provide several key takeaways for the audience, which I typically do towards the end of the podcast. This depends on the topic, but I like them to learn something concrete from listening to the episode.

Before you go…

Guesting on podcasts is a great way to boost your personal brand, promote your product or service, and even improve the SEO of your blog.

If you’re building a profitable blog, podcast guesting should be part of your overall strategy. It will help you gain more visibility and rank higher in Google.

Knowing how to prepare for a podcast effectively will let you make the most of this exciting opportunity. If all goes well, your podcast appearance will hopefully be the first of many.

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