This is the first of several blogs on making better podcasts. Today: how to be a great guest.
The other day I was interviewing a young woman who wanted to work on a podcast project with us.
About half of her answers began with the all-too-frequent comment, “that’s a really good question.” I wanted to reach into the phone, wag my finger and call her on it.
We all love compliments. But most of the time it’s important to mean what you say. Or, at least convince the person on the other side of the microphone that you’re sincere.
This is especially important when being interviewed on a podcast. Any experienced host can tell when you are using flattery to mask the truth.
Another frequent mistake made by podcast guests and panel members is giving long answers to questions. An interview should be a conversation, not a monologue. Keep you answer to less than 60 seconds. An interesting or provocative comment should invite a follow-up from the host.
One way for podcast guests to be more succinct is to avoid repeating their main argument twice.
A great many professional speakers, professors and authors feel the need to make a point, then say it a slightly different way, and sum-up their long-winded answer with a third version! You’d think they’d know better. But surprisingly few publishers or public relations firms offer media training to authors and clients.
A few more do’s and don’ts:
– If you’re podcast or radio show guest, beware of tangents. When possible, make your main argument first, and then give an illustration or anecdote during the second half of the answer.
- Be direct and avoid overstating your case with words such as “amazing”, “incredible”, or “that’s so important”. Avoid bravado. Be humble.
– Listen carefully to the questions and fully engage with the host. If it’s a face-to-face interview, use eye contact to establish rapport with others. Humor is also a highly effective and often undervalued way to break the ice and establish authenticity.
- Before an interview, ask if the show is live. With an edited, prerecorded podcast, feel free to ask for a “do over” if you’re unhappy with your answer.
– Journalists — and podcast hosts — love people who speak in sound-bites. Prior to an appearance, write down three or four brief sentences that are core messages. Rehearse them.
Good prep before an interview improves your performance. As part of this, ask yourself what you really want to say. Skilled guests know all about framing. They also understand the difference between simple repetition and finding several different ways to make a similar argument.
One way to be the guest who keeps getting invited back is to remember how friends, readers or clients responded when you first discussed a project that you were working on. If they found one particular phrase to be of interest, so will podcast listeners. They are usually hearing your “pitch” for the first time.
Next: How to ask good questions.
Richard Davies is a podcast host, consultant and media trainer. Learn more at DaviesContent.com.