Your perfect audience is listening: how to prep for a podcast interview

There is an intimate bond between podcast hosts and their audience. If you are invited to speak on a podcast, you have a ticket to speak to a very specific, dedicated listener.

Hands down, the strength of the interview-based podcast format (as opposed to true-crime, instructional or storytelling podcasts) in this world of busy lives and abundant content is: depth.

Podcasts give you an arena to share a passion and expertise for your niche that a print article could never capture. Being the only voice in a person’s ear is invaluable. Quite the opposite of a listicle that serves as click bait — but also very different from most radio interviews.

Podcast subscribers know what they want. According to Edison Media Research, the average podcast listener is young, educated, employed, subscribes to on-demand video services and nearly always completes the episode to which they choose to listen.

So how do you prepare to be featured on a podcast? First up, do not — repeat do not — treat a podcast interview the same way you would a classic media interview. I train authors and experts on how to prepare content and context for all sorts of media interviews, and the biggest misconception I hear is that a podcast interview is just a longer version of any other media interview. Wrong.

Here are just three ways in which even a lengthy interview is different from a podcast interview.

Time In a podcast, the interviewer creates a narrative arc to the conversation. It will start off at 30,000 feet, and artfully usher in the heart of the interview. There will be a sense of build-up — in the types of questions asked and the time the guest has to illustrate background, a driving point, or the emotional aspect of the topic.

DO: Prepare proper anecdotes ahead of time. Anecdotes with a protagonist with a goal who overcomes an obstacle, and even the emotion attached to that struggle. Answers in a podcast interview can be up to a few minutes long — much longer than the 45 seconds I recommend for traditional broadcast media interview answers, where the goal is to keep information flowing between interviewer and guest.

Dedication/expertise on the topic Podcast content is not radio content. It is instead like the Dewey decimal system: while radio might have a show on cars, and capture a wide audience, you could find a podcast about not just cars, but sports cars, and not just sports cars, but 70s muscle cars. So, with your content AND that in mind, what needs to be shared and how?

DO: Pay attention to what differentiates this podcast from all others — and just how savvy the listeners to that podcast are. Also: these listeners are hanging on your every word as a podcast guest. Unlike radio, they will hit pause if interrupted. And if you say something really interesting, they will hit the 30-seconds-back button and re-listen to what you just said! (And if they’re like me, they’ll open their notes app and jot down a great quote.) Customize that content for this audience.

Opportunity for authenticity Preparing for a podcast with scripted statements simply won’t work. There is an authenticity to this medium that must be embraced. Don’t be afraid to come across as vulnerable and human. You’re not trying to be cool and impress, you are there to connect — so let your passion shine through.

DO: As you think about potential anecdotes to share, think about the tools taught in traditional media training: voice exercises, best practices including pacing, interview arcs, maintaining tone, engaging audience, and avoiding pitfalls such as droning on or hedging your professional opinion. Put yourself in the mindset that allows you to stay in line with your values, and then open up. Remember: facts and figures can be Googled, but the voice you bring to a podcast interview must be yours — with all the emotions and perspective there for the listener to hear.