So you’ve agreed to be a guest on a podcast. Maybe this one (THANKS!!) or maybe some other one. You’re asking yourself, “How can I be an awesome podcast guest?” Well I’m glad you asked.
First and foremost, recognize that if you’ve agreed to give up your valuable time to be a guest on someone’s podcast, you’re already really great. As a podcaster, I’m continually amazed and grateful that so many awesome people are willing to sit down with me and tell me about themselves, their interests, and their knowledge. Just by showing up you’ve achieved the status of “Great Guest.” But maybe you want to do more. Maybe you want to be the best podcast guest you can be. How do you do that?
There are three levels of podcast guest performance. “Great,” “Awesome,” and “Overachiever.”
Great – As I said above, a “Great” podcast guest just needs to show up. But to show up you need a small amount of equipment to make things happen.
- Computer – This seems pretty obvious
- Skype – If you don’t have Skype (and you should!) it’s easy to get. Download it from here – http://www.skype.com/en/download-skype/skype-for-computer/ A simple trick to make Skype better is to go into “Audio Settings” (Under “Call” in the Windows version) and uncheck the boxes next to “Automatically adjust microphone settings” and “Automatically adjust speaker settings.”
- A microphone or a headset – Try to avoid using the built in mic in your laptop if at all possible. You should have a USB headset/mic combo laying around already. How else can you listen to YouTube videos without disturbing your family? I have something like this – http://amzn.to/1OLMoA5 – It’s $25.
- A quiet room – Try to minimize noises. No children, no cats with bells, no running dishwashers. Do the best you can, here.
Basically you can get by as a Great Podcast Guest with stuff you already have.
Awesome – Maybe you’re going to be a regular podcast guest. Either you are a regular on one podcast, or you’re the sort of person who gets asked to be a guest on lots of podcasts. Authors, for instance. If you’re going to put yourself out there regularly, it will pay in the long run to upgrade your microphone. If you show up with some sweet audio quality, you automagically sound more credible, more interesting, and better looking. A small outlay (tax deductible as a business expense if you market yourself via podcasts!) will pay BIG dividends.
- A really awesome USB microphone for super dirt cheap – Sure, you could spend $500 on a broadcast standard microphone, but why would you? Spend $50-60 on the standard microphones used in podcasting today. Check out both of these links and buy the cheapest of the two. The guts of these mics are identical, so buy the cheaper of the two. DO NOT BUY A CONDENSER MICROPHONE! I can’t stress this enough. Especially don’t buy one of those idiotic Yeti mics. I know someone who had to unplug his refrigerator in order to record his podcast because his Blue Yeti mic was so sensitive. Use one of these two inexpensive mics. Whichever one is on sale at the time you buy is the one you want.
- A microphone arm with a shock mount – You’ve seen radio jocks with their fancy microphones on their fancy mounting arms, right? What if I said that a fancy arm with a sound reducing shock mount will cost you less than $30? – http://amzn.to/1OLOiAT
- A “Pop Filter” – Microphones make funny noises if you blow on them. It’s basically impossible to make the “P” sound like in “pop” without blowing on the microphone and it sounds awful. For less than $10, you can make your audio sound like you’re recording in a studio. – http://amzn.to/1FEEbbU
Those three together will make you sound super professional when you appear as a guest on a podcast. Add the plug in earbuds from your iPhone or Android phone, and you’re off to the races.
Overachiever – You turned in all your homework early, didn’t you? You were “that guy!” or “that girl!” on the school track team. You took everything to the outer limits, trying to get that last grade point, that last tenth of a second, that last dollar. Now you want to know how to be the best, most awesome, overachiever of a podcast guest in history. The secret? Audacity. No, not “the character trait of boldness, the opposite of fearfulness, the willingness to get things done despite risks.” I’m talking about the free audio editing software Audacity – http://sourceforge.net/projects/audacity/
Download and install Audacity and offer to “record audio locally.” Not every podcaster will want you to do this. But some will think you’re just the most awesome guest they’ve ever had.
When your audio is squeezed down and shoved through Skype, it loses some of its high fidelity. Modern computers can multitask, though. With Audacity AND Skype running on your computer, you can transmit your audio through Skype so the host can talk to you while simultaneously recording your own audio on your own computer. Your mic goes straight to your computer, straight into Audacity, and straight into zeros and ones. Short of renting a real radio studio, you aren’t going to get any better quality audio.
Simply set up Audacity and Skype to use the same microphone, tell Audacity to record in “Mono,” hit the big red dot button and you’re recording everything the microphone hears. When you’re done with the interview, hit the stop button, click the “File” drop down, click “Export Audio” and save your audio file as a WAV. Make sure to save it somewhere you can find it. Ask your host how to send the audio to him or her. I generally use Google Drive, and share the audio with the host. He/She can download it and have pristine, high quality audio that makes it sound like you’re in the same room as they are.
Conclusion – That’s all there is to it. You can get away with stuff you’ve got laying around and be thought of as a great guest. Spend no more than $100, and you’ll sound like the radio jocks you hear on the radio. You’ll sound so good that you’ll definitely be asked to come back. If you’re an author, trying to market your books by being on podcasts, you’ll never lack for people asking you to be on. Be careful, though. Being a guest on podcasts is fun. You might even say it’s addictive.