Being a modern writer has a lot of perks. We get to use computers and grammar checkers to craft our masterpieces.
We also have social media to get the word out about our work on a global scale.
Another advantage of modern technology is podcasts, and how anyone with a microphone and one of those wonderful computers can have one.
While some writers start a podcast themselves, others are asked by said podcasts to be a guest.
While you might think you need to be a big name or have a bestseller to guest on a podcast, that’s not the case.
Now, we all know your first instinct will be to turn it down. You’ll go through the self-doubt laundry list of excuses:
- I don’t have a completed novel, or a traditionally published book to promote.
- Why would anyone want to hear from me? Surely whatever drew their attention was a fluke/mistake?
- Anyone who listens to what I have to say on the podcast will think I’m unqualified/a terrible writer/wrong/a boring person.
These excuses and variations of them will run through your head. None of them will be true.
Podcasters won’t ask just anyone to feature on their show. They’ve seen something about you that you can’t, and they want to help share it with the world.
If you get asked, embrace the opportunity! You never know what it could lead to.
Preparing To Be A Guest On A Podcast
Now that you’ve excepted the offer, and pushed aside the doubt and panic, it’s time to get prepared.
Do The Research
If you’re not already a subscriber of the podcast that you’ve been asked to guest on, give it a listen.
Not only will you get a feel for the vibe of the show, but you’ll learn how the host works and a bit about their personality. Listen to as many episodes as you can to get an idea of the format and keep that in mind for when you’ll be speaking.
If you’ve been given a topic to discuss on the podcast, research this too. The better prepared you are on the conversation points, the easier it’ll flow.
Get The Equipment
To take part in a podcast, you’ll need a computer or smartphone, a free video-conferencing program like Zoom (or whatever the podcast host suggests/prefers), and a set of headphones with a built-in microphone. Most likely, these will be items you already have or can easily get/borrow.
If you want to go all out, you can of course get a professional microphone to help with the sound quality, but unless you intend to start your own podcast, or guest regularly, it’s unnecessary for a one-off guest spot.
Arrange Your Setup
Ideally, you’ll want to be alone in a quiet room. If you’re going to be on camera/recorded while guesting (and a good host will let you know this and if any recording will be seen publicly beforehand), you’ll want to ensure you don’t look like you’ve just rolled out of bed.
Brush your hair, wear a nice top, and use a ring light or have good lighting, which also benefits the person you’re podcasting with so that they can see you properly when you’re chatting.
Make sure you’re seated somewhere comfortable, you’re not too hot or too cold, and you have a drink nearby in case your throat gets dry.
Strive For No Distractions
Unless it’s a live podcast, which usually isn’t the case, the host will understand if there’s a sudden loud noise or knock on the door. Life won’t pause because you’re recording a podcast. If anything, this will be the time that something goes wrong or your pet/kid/other-half will urgently need you.
Strive for as little distraction as you can by letting your household know you’re recording. It’s a good idea to also turn off your phone (because this will be the one time ever that you get a call!), and noisy notifications that could go off and interrupt things.
You might not prepare for or avoid every distraction scenario, but minimizing it as best you can will ensure a smooth recording.
Prep Your Words
If you’re really worried about what you’re going to say, aren’t a good public speaker, know that you ramble (especially when nervous), or just need some direction, prep your words!
Make detailed notes or a bullet list regarding what you’re going to talk about. Keep it short and sweet to use as a guide only. Going with a word-for-word script doesn’t allow for natural speech, and no one wants that.
Use your notes to remind yourself what to cover and to stay on topic. Knowing some of what you want to say will also help with nerves or worries. You know yourself best. Prep how you need to so that you can have a productive and helpful discussion.
Don’t Worry About Mistakes
Keep in mind that the recording will be edited.
If you ramble, stumble over your words, forget your train of thought, swear, or really mess up, the host will fix issues post-recording.
Obviously, you don’t want to make their editing job harder by making errors all over the place, but if something goes wrong, it won’t be the end of the world. Relax and go with the flow, including rolling with any mistakes.
Treat It Like A Chat With Friends
After the state of the world these last two years, you’ll either be dying to chat with someone or full of anxiety about having to carry on a conversation with another human.
Regardless of whether you know the host already, have only spoken to them a handful of times online, or only interacted to get the guest spot lined up, treat your chat like it’s with an old friend. It’ll go a long way to calming your nerves and having a smooth conversation.
If you’re a consumer of podcasts, you’ll know it’s always more enjoyable listening to a guest who is relaxed, knowledgeable, heard clearly, enjoys the topic, and interacts with the host.
If you can pull that off, along with the other tips in this post, not only will you have fun recording, but the finished podcast should be a great listen, and you may need that professional microphone for all your future guest spots after all!
— K.M. Allan