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  • Writer's pictureGrace Fuisz

The Interview Cheat Sheet

A green and blue infographic detailing 5 tips for getting the best podcast interview - how to prep properly (write down talking points), slow down when you lose your train of thought, drink water, remember corrections can be edited in post, and tips for microphone placement.
The Podcast Interview Cheat Sheet

There are few things I love more than a cute infographic (maybe I love easy-to-edit podcast audio more?) so I made a little interview cheat sheet for hosts and guests, alike. The gist is -- a lot of the things that stress folks out about being on podcasts are small potatoes.

A couple examples to ease your worried mind --

The problem: What if I say something incorrect?

The short answer: We can fix that.

The long answer:

There's a couple fixes depending on the scenario.

a) If you realize you made a mistake right after you said it, do your editor a favor and stop in your tracks, say that you made a mistake, and repeat the full sentence with the correction. Stopping and repeating the sentence means you won't get a weird Frankenstein's monster sentence in post-production and pointing it out to your editor on the recording means they won't accidentally miss the correction.

b) If you weren't sure if something you said was accurate in the moment but didn't stop to correct it, don't be afraid to pipe up after the episode is recorded. Say, "I'm not sure if I attributed that quote to the right person -- do you mind if I Google it to make sure I got it right?" If you happened to get it wrong, make sure you're still rolling and say the correction, isolated. i.e.

Don't say "uuugh it was actually Roosevelt!"

Do say: "Roosevelt." in a normal tone of voice. Don't say it like "Eureka!"

c) If you didn't notice until you got home or until you heard a preview of the episode, contact your editor and see if they can do something slick. Sometimes we can move things around or cut out parts of your sentence to fix these things. It's probably still not a big deal. Worst case scenario, your hosts can hop on the mic and say, "We have a little correction, our guest accidentally said X when they meant to say Roosevelt! Whoopsie."

The problem: I hate the sound of my own voice!

The short answer: Honestly, I'd argue that most people will feel like a sultry radio personality as soon as they hear themselves over some nice headphones speaking into a Shure SM7B. It's kind of hard not to, everyone sounds good in that context.

The longer answer:

I promise nobody hates your voice like you do. It sounds different to you than to other folks. Still, if you're worrying about it, the easiest ways to make yourself sound better on the recording are to:

- Listen to your sound engineer and pay attention to mic placement.

- Drink water throughout the interview. (Honestly, so important).

- Don't forget to breathe.

More tips for those suffering from shrill-voice-disease:

- If you need to check the episode's content but you couldn't possibly bear to listen to yourself speak, throw it in Descript (transcription software -- free for the first 3 hours of transcription, which is probably all you'll need) and check the content.

The problem: What if there's an awkward silence or I don't know what to ask?

The short answer: This is what prep is for, and silence is really not a big deal.

The longer answer:

Interviewers, make sure to write down some questions before the interview. It's best to have a good mix of questions prepared because they'll come in handy in different situations.

- If your guest is shy or having a hard time at the start of the interview, try an open-ended, softball of a question. Consider questions that will lead to them telling a story they've told before. "Why" and "what" questions are a good place to start, e.g. "Why did you decide to start your company?" "What was your first experience with X?"

- If your guest seems flustered by deeper questions, lob a couple questions that will have straight-forward, fact-based answers, i.e. stop asking them for their opinion/perspective and ask them about their experience. "How" questions are great e.g. "How did you create this product?" "How did you find talent for this project?"

- Oh no, they're still giving you nothing? Make sure you have a couple one-word-answer, closed questions prepped (the kind of questions where you could write the multiple choice answers, yourself, if you had to). Challenge yourself to come up with some unique ones. Start with "how many" questions, e.g. "How many people are in your company?" "How many communities do you work with?"

- In general, follow the threads you're curious about and you'll likely find some cool stuff.

- Don't forget to set your guest up to mention anything they need to promote so that they're getting as much out of being on your podcast as you are.

A couple more things to help your editor out:

- If your phone goes off while you're talking or someone screams outside of the door or there is some other kind of abrupt, loud, noise while you're talking, stop talking until the noise has stopped and then repeat your whole sentence.

- If possible, turn off air conditioner units or things in your room that are making loud, constant noise. These are fixable in post, but you're gonna make your editor's life easier if they're not in the recording (and probably save some money on billed hours).

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