Tips for Podcast Guests

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Podcasts have become very popular as both a promotional tool and an informational/networking tool for writers.

I know I don’t have the time to host podcasts, but I usually have the time to appear as a guest.  On average, I’ve been a guest on 2-3 podcasts each year (some of them audio-only, some of them with video).  I’m being interviewed this afternoon, too.  That’s because hosts need guests!  :)

Over the years, I’ve put more thought into my appearances (which are sometimes on video and sometimes audio only).  Here are some of my tips for being a better guest: 

Equipment (I have a PC):

I like my Dell laptop.  But I hate the fact that the webcam is located in the bottom-left of the lid.  It gives a very awkward, odd angle to the transmitted picture.  To fix this (and for a better webcam picture altogether), I purchased a standalone webcam.  The Microsoft LifeCam was only $45 and had excellent ratings.   When I set up for a Skype interview, I plug the webcam into my USB port and make sure that Skype has the LifeCam listed as the device it’s using for video.

Another issue with the Dell laptop is that apparently the sound quality from the built-in microphone isn’t very good (I didn’t seem to have this problem on my elderly Lenovo).  At the suggestion of one of the podcast hosts, I purchased an external microphone.   The one I chose, Fifine Plug-and-Play,  is under $25 and is well-reviewed.  I plug the microphone into another USB port, adjust the tripod that comes with it, and make sure, again, that Skype lists the microphone as the default device.

Other Tips:

I make sure the room is well-lit.  I turn on all the lights and make sure there aren’t any weird shadows where I’m sitting.

I pick a non-distracting background.

For women middle-aged and older, I’d recommend wearing a lot more makeup than you’d ordinarily wear. These HD cameras aren’t kind.  I can’t even tell that I’m wearing a lot of makeup when I look at the footage later.

You’ll want to make sure that your internet connection is a strong one.  If it isn’t, move closer to the router or connect your laptop to the router via an Ethernet cable.

I make the house as quiet as I can by alerting any errant family members, confining the dog and cats, muting my cell phone, taking the house phone off the hook, and turning off any noisy computer notifications.

I have a glass of water nearby, just in case.

I feel as if the best interviews I’ve done are the ones in which I’ve known the questions in advance. This allows me to prepare the most thoughtful responses. Those interviews are few and far between, however.  If I don’t know the questions, I’d like a very good idea of the  general direction the interview will be taking: is it on writing routines? Writing mysteries? Promo?

I try to sit still and not wave my hands around a lot. This is tough for me–apparently I have a hard time sitting still. Next time I may sit on my hands.

Sometimes hosts will recommend guests wear earbuds to reduce audio feedback/echoes.  This hasn’t been a problem for me before, but I always have a pair nearby in case it becomes an issue.

I’m ready with a coherent signoff for the interview that lists where I can be found online and the name of my latest release.

Have any other tips for being a guest on a podcast?  Or any questions?

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Photo credit: zoomar via / CC BY-NC


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12 thoughts on “Tips for Podcast Guests

  1. Thanks for the tips. I have a Dell computer too so they were especially helpful. I’d be so nervous being interviewed. That’s awesome that you do a few every year.

    1. It’s much easier than public speaking in some ways because you only have the one person looking at you. :) And they can fix anything in editing–it’s never live.

      Those Dell computers are great…except for the location of that camera!

  2. We have a really good microphone, but neither of us have a camera. We’ve not needed one yet. I do need to start looking for podcasts and radio spots again. I used to do a lot of online radio shows in the past. (I also used to have a ton more time to look for them.)

  3. I love these ideas, Elizabeth. With technology changing as it is, I think it behooves the writer to be prepared for different sorts of interactions, and podcasts are certainly popular ways to reach out these days.

  4. These are great tips! I would pick only audio, since I’m not photogenic and there isn’t enough makeup in the world to cover it all. Podcasts are a great way to connect, though.

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