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How to Prepare for a Podcast

If you’ve been invited to speak on a podcast, you’ve got so much value and are very familiar with the topic.

I have conducted many – dozens – interviews. I can tell you; the good thing is that this interview is likely not as nerve-wracking as a candidate’s interview.

Nevertheless, you’ve got value, so you’ll need to prepare to effectively communicate your value to the world of listeners!

Remember, this event is a unique combination of casual and informative conversation, answering interview-like questions, and importantly, creating content for an audio show with real audiences.

Here are six things you can do to prepare yourself as a strong audio presenter, not just someone who’s “prepared with content.”

1. Make bulleted notes with descriptive keywords

Keywords are cues to help you communicate the maximum value in your response.

For example, if I were to make a bullet list describe my neighborhood, I’d probably jot down:

  • Mysteriously forested, countryside, spacious acreage, screaming goats, escaping chickens, time-confused roosters

As opposed to:

  • Trees, property, farm animals, a house in the countryside

The first bullet has keywords that illustrate with a bullet-like impact. The contrasting example has generic keywords that fail to create a distinctive visual.

These descriptive keywords allow you to quickly form illustrative responses without demanding the labor of improvisation.

I’ll explain the importance of bullet notes in the next section.

But before we move on, let’s talk about the content of your notes.

Of course, your interviewer likely had the courtesy of providing you with a list of questions to expect. Prepare for those with descriptive keywords.

But since this interview moonlights a natural conversation style, use descriptive keywords to prepare for the following possible tangents (if not already included in the original list):

  • Your top 3 main points you want to get across
  • What are your values relevant to your topic?
  • Why is your topic important to you?
  • What role(s) do you play in the narrative of your topic?
  • Memorable experiences you’ve had relating to your topic.
  • Random, interesting facts about you.
  • What is the future of your topic? Development?
  • How did you get involved in your topic?
  • Who/what are your mentors/reference points?
  • Where do you draw your inspiration from?

2. Bullet notes: don’t read from “paragraphed” notes.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. You don’t sound natural.
  2. Ironically, you’ll probably trip up on completed sentences.

It’s a show! If you sound monotonous by reading your answers, you’ll bore the interviewer before your interview even finishes. And let’s be honest, you’ll probably bore yourself, too.

And, if you consistently trip up on your words because the sentences aren’t as fluid to the conversation as you’d thought, you’ll risk sounding unintelligible, confused, flustered.

Let me paint this point for you:

Recently, I was preparing to litigate a case in court. Mind you, it was only “moot court,” but there was a lot at stake. There was a justice (judge), jury, litigators in black ties, and steamed suits — all the works.

Typically, public speaking for me is no problem. I make a few bulleted points, jot down descriptive keywords, you give me an audience, and I’m good to go.

For the court, however, I thoroughly researched and prepared a professional brief with arguments. So, I thought, “hey, all the information is here, forget the extra work of bullet notes.”

During a zero-risk practice, I stumbled over the words and paragraphs, tied my tongue, and just sounded disorganized despite knowing the information through and through.

This happened because my brain scrambled in a fury to instantaneously transcribe the full sentences and paragraphs that I was reading into strong main points spoken in a natural, spoken voice.

Before I even finished practicing, I scrapped that method and quickly decided to create bullet points and descriptive keywords.

3. Exploit Emotion

If you’re someone whose voice never sounds excited no matter what you do or how hard you try, first, hats off to you for being invited to a podcast interview!

Even if that’s not you, you’ll still need to exploit emotion.

Remember, your audience only receives audio stimulation through the podcast. You don’t have the luxury to create excitement through any sort of visual cues.

It’s up to you to speak with passion, push curiosity, create engagement, and exploit emotion.

Create suspense, bring excitement and joy, cause fear (please, use responsibly and appropriately), tug on heartstrings, demand passion, foster anticipation, illicit dreams.

In other words, reach into your Pandora box of emotions and let them dance.

Here are a few tricks to help you achieve this:

  1. What excites you about the topic of your interview?
    • Write it down in your notes to refer back to.
    • Create a list of expressive words that are true to you. Utilize these words during your interview.
  2. Why are other people passionate/excited about the topic of your interview?
    • Again, write it down in your notes to refer back to.
    • Quote emotional expressions from others who have also spoken/written about your topic.
  3. Practice speaking with effects:
    • Pauses and quick moments of silence can create suspense.
    • The volume of your voice can create atmosphere.
    • Speed of your speech can elicit excitement, boredom, etc.
    • Height and depth of your voice can match the emotion you want to draw on.
  4. Create a separate list of descriptive and emotional keywords that you can use at any point during the interview.

4. Answer the question first

Obvious, right? In theory, yes. Practically. well, you’d be surprised.

Okay, you’ve made notes. But. sometimes you just get carried away. If all else fails, remember this: answer the question first.

Failure to do this decreases your audiences’ perceived authority of you on the subject.

I’m sure you’ve been irritated by someone who did not answer your question despite having said so many words. This happens in an interview more often than you’d think.

Yes, intriguing conversations are birthed through tangents of another discussion. But keep in mind, this is an interview, and your interviewer and audience are expecting an answer.

You don’t want to be the person who takes forever to get to the point nor someone who fails at directly answering the question.

Why Answering Is Important

Answering the question first is crucial for two main reasons:

  1. The efficiency of your interview affects the structure that your episode is built upon.
  1. Delivery to the audience. The more you’re able to solidify the structure of the podcast before you beef it up with “accessories,” the more authority you’ll have in your voice.

So, here’s what you do:

If you have a good value to communicate, but it’s a spin-off from the question you’re asked, simply answer the question first.

If appropriate, then tangent into your next point. You’ll want to explain the path of that tangent to keep your interviewer and audience engaged and free of confusion.

This is something you’ll need to practice before the interview and something to keep in mind during your interview.

These simple, daily exercises will make a huge difference:

  • Before answering any questions, stop and think about the question. Then think about your response. Don’t speak until your response first answers the question.
  • Observe. When you ask someone else a question, do they directly answer your question? If not, how would you structure the response to answer the question first directly?

For questions that have a “that depends” type of an answer, simply respond with “that depends” first, then explain.

5. Check your sound quality

Alright, all of the above are great, but they’re useless if your interviewer can’t hear you, vice versa.

If your podcast interview is in person and using the interviewer’s equipment, you are one step ahead. Just do these two, simple things:

  1. Make sure you know how to put your phone on silent!
  2. Bring water to hydrate yourself.

If your podcast interview occurs over video through Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facetime, etc., your connection, headphones, and microphone will be essential.

  1. Test the quality of your microphone before the interview
  2. Test the quality of your speakers before the interview
  3. Position yourself where you have a stable, strong internet connection
  4. Choose a room, free of background noise and echo.
  5. Find comfortable seating

If you’d like to know more, Cathy and Jess can tell you more about this.

6. Prepare your bio and headshot

Jess Tyson said so.

At the beginning of your interview, you will get introduced, and at some point, a picture of you might get posted somewhere.

So, avoid the awkwardness of correcting your interviewer on wrong/outdated information and provide him/her with a short bio and your current favorite headshot.

It’s that simple.

Enjoy!

You might be new to podcasts or not, but it never hurts to become a more influential audio presenter.

Most of all, prepare yourself to enjoy this interview. If you take these tips and tricks, do it to effectively communicate your value with joy.