Yvette Vega, 15 Minutes’ Director of Ideas, has some ideas about shining as a guest on a show or podcast. A good guest has done research and knows the kind of show she’s appearing on. Vega should know: she’s been an Executive Producer for more than 25 years and has seen guests she wanted to invite back and ones she never wanted to see again. “Don’t walk into something cold,” Vega says. “Most people are unable to wing it.”
Key knowledge: how long is the segment you are on? For an interview on Good Morning America, you can’t get to everything. There’s no time. “Laying out too much information can make people just sort of tune out,” she says. But if you’re doing a half-hour chat for your local bookshop, then you know you’re going to be able to go into granular detail. You’ll have time to explain anything nuanced.
When you’ve got a grip on the time constraints, you’re better able to boil down and emphasize your main points. “I think the pitfall that potential guests or journalists fall into is that they know the material inside and out,” Vega says, “but you can’t assume that the interviewer knows the material in the same way.”
Good guests listen carefully to the questions and respond with either specificity or color or ideally something unexpected. When a guest says something that surprises the interviewer, who learns something new, “That moderator is going to say, I didn’t know that!” Vega says. “And then want to bring them back because they might bring something new the next time.”
Preparation is key. “It’s not a good idea to assume that you’re going to be able to walk into a test and ace it. You need to study,” says Vega. So how to be the best guest? Do your homework. And pack a surprise.