The podcast interview experience is a valuable one. And giving your guest a good experience means you will have a better show and a satisfied guest. In this episode, Tom Hazzard talks about the guest viewpoint and why the guest experience is so important for podcast interviews. Tom shares a recent experience where he was invited to guest on a podcast and gives his insights on the show. Tom then shares his best practices in improving the guest experience. Listen in and learn more podcasting tips and strategies.
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Leveraging Your Guest’s Viewpoint To Improve Your Podcast Interview Experience
I’m getting ready to share with you a little story about an experience I had in podcasting. I was a guest on someone else’s show, and it was a very unusual experience and there are a lot of lessons to be learned from that. That would be helpful to a lot of podcasters, especially those that are relatively new to podcasting. There are also some lessons for existing podcasters. There’s a little something for everybody.
I want to talk about making the most of your podcast interviews. Sometimes, in order to get the most out of them, understand some best practices, some recommendations, some tips, and do’s and don’ts or at least things to consider. There are no absolutes here. It can be helpful to understand about an experience that others have had, have an experience yourself being a guest on someone else’s show, or maybe have a guest you’ve had on your show, give you some feedback and talk to you about their experience.
A Recent Experience
I had an experience where I discovered that an organization that I am a member of on how to podcast had a podcast for a couple of years. I did not realize that they did. I’m going to explain a little bit about this organization. When I was a young boy, 10 or 11 years old, I went to summer camp for eight weeks. Every summer, you hear about a camper where people go away for a week or a two, or you have a local day camp. This is a camp you go to all summer.
It was in New Hampshire on the lake called Newfound Lake. My family has quite a history at this camp. My grandfather, his brother, and then three of my uncles attended it. I attended. A cousin of mine who is younger than me also attended it. This camp has existed in New Hampshire since 1903, and it’s called Mowglis School of the Open.
You probably heard of that Mowglis name because of The Jungle Book. It is a camp that’s themed after The Jungle Book, but not the movies. The movies came later. The person who founded the camp was fond of the book by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book, and reached out to the author back in England in 1903.
Prior to that, he reached out and said, “Would you mind if she themed this summer camp for boys after the characters in The Jungle Book?” He said, “By all means, go ahead.” Anyway, long before the movies ever existed, this camp for boys existed. I went to it in the early and mid-‘80s as a pre-teen and then young teenager. It was a very special place. It’s a great experience.
A lot of who I have become now as a man, those values and certain life skills were formed in those years at that camp. I have been out of touch with the camp for a long time. The biggest reason is I don’t have any boys. I am a parent of three girls. I haven’t had any boys to go from the next generation after me. Anyway, I’ve been out of touch with them, then one of my fellow campers, when I was there, reached out to me on Facebook and we reconnected. He told me, “They have this podcast. You should get reconnected with this other person whose name is Wayne because he’s the host of the podcast. You’re in the podcast business. You guys would probably have a lot to talk about.”To get the most out of a guest interview, it can be helpful to understand an experience others have had or to have an experience yourself. Click To Tweet
I reached out and reconnected. He said, “Tom, I’d love to have you on the podcast. Would you be willing to do an interview?” I said, “Sure, I would.” We set up that I was going to be a guest on the show. I went and did some homework on the show. It has been around for a few years. I want to explain a little bit about this podcast. When you think about this summer camp, in modern times, they didn’t even have a camp in 2020 because of the Coronavirus. It’s the first time since World War II that the camp skips the season, and it skipped two seasons during the World War II years.
This camp has a capacity of campers of about 100 boys every summer. A hundred boys go and spend the entire summer there. You can think over the 120-ish years of history of the camp with a maximum of 100 boys attending a season. Each year, a lot of those boys return, maybe 30-ish new campers every year. There’s not a whole lot of people who’ve attended this camp as compared to the population of the United States.
My point in sharing that with you is this show has a pretty limited audience. They’re trying to speak to the alumni of the camp, current campers, and maybe some prospective campers or their families to learn more about the camp. Mostly, the host of the show interviews alumni and shares stories of the years when they were at the camp, their experiences and what it taught them. You can imagine this is not a show that’s going to set the world on fire in terms of listenership.
It’s not going to have a broad appeal. It’s a very limited audience for sure. It’s serving it very private and very limited community. I want to acknowledge that because some of the things that I’m going to talk about would be more applicable to a podcast that’s trying to have a much more broad appeal, but still, as an experience, I had brought a few things into my consciousness and reminded me that we, as podcasts hosts, should be paying attention to certain things.
Let me explain. The guy’s name is Wayne. He set up a Zoom call, and I connected with him. It was a casual day. I didn’t know how long we’re going to spend on the phone. I looked at some past episodes and they’ve ranged from 40 to 60 minutes. Even some that were part 1 and part 2 are over an hour each part. I didn’t know what to expect. He didn’t prepare me for anything.
I got a calendar invite with the Zoom link and I showed up. I expected when we connected to have some chitchat, talk a little bit and set some expectations before starting to record, but I quickly found that’s not how this was going to go. I connected with him, it was recording, and I’m on. No prep, no chitchat, no nothing. I didn’t realize it at first for about 30 seconds to a minute. I’m like, “He’s already recording the episode.” I thought he would talk to me a little bit and then start recording.
This gentleman, Wayne, who’s the host, is older. He’s like my father’s age, who’s in his 70s. He certainly didn’t seem to be technophobic. He’s averse to using modern tech and recording on Zoom, which is what he was doing. It seemed to me, by the end of the interview, he didn’t know some things about Zoom, and I certainly would have been happy to help him learn a little bit about Zoom. Clearly, he didn’t realize that you could have a Zoom call and start the recording at some point, and then also stop it and still be able to talk to who you’ve been with on the call after that. He did this where we’re on the call, you get there like, “Tom, how are you doing? Welcome to the show.”
He’s into questions and we’re having this conversation. At the end of it, I was shocked. After the better part of an hour that when we said it ended, it was a little awkward at the end because I expected he was going to turn off the recording and we were going to keep talking. That didn’t happen. He just ended the call. I was gone. It’s like, “You’re out.” That was a little odd. This is where I started to realize maybe he could use a little tech training or some suggestions, but even beyond that, I realized there were a lot of missed opportunities.
For a guy that’s been doing a podcast for a couple of years, it got more than 50 to 60 episodes. I was surprised at how rough this experience was. I’m going to have another call with him. I’ve already arranged that because I wrote him afterwards and said, “I’m sorry that was a little awkward ending. I thought you’d stop recording and we’d keep talking.” I’ve offered to talk with him another time, which he accepted, and we’re going to have that conversation. Still, even though we’re going to do that and I want to provide him the value, he’s not getting paid to do it. Honestly, I care about the organization. It’s a nonprofit camp. It’s not-for-profit.
It doesn’t have a lot of expenses with it, but he’s trying to support the community of alumni and keep everybody connected. There are lots of good reasons to be involved in this, no matter how rough it is, but it illuminated some things for me. Obviously, I’ve done hundreds of podcasts interviews myself. Tracy has done well-over 1,500 or 2,000. She’s done a lot more than me.
There are some things that we’re used to doing. It comes so naturally that maybe now we take for granted, or there are things that we do that are important, but we don’t think about them all the time. We don’t realize how many things we’ve learned and done over the years to make the podcasting experience a valuable one, not for me, the host, but for you, the guest or vice versa.
Take A Little Time At The Beginning Before The Interview
From these observations, I want to share some recommendations and some tips. Some of this may seem obvious to some of you, but for those of you that are relatively new, it’s important to make sure you’re considering these things. First of all and hopefully, any people working with us at Podetize know this show is available to everybody out there as a podcast. You may be new to podcasting. Make sure you understand the technology that you’re using to record and how it works. You don’t need to do everything in one take as soon as the call starts recording. Once you stop recording, it doesn’t mean the call has to end.
I would always recommend when you connect with your guests, even if you don’t want to forget to push that record button, because believe me, that happens to everybody, at least once in their podcasting experience. Maybe you use your recording tool like Zoom. You set it to record automatically. That’s great. Do that, but that doesn’t mean you have to use the first 5 to 10 minutes or whatever it is of that recording when you’re connecting with your guests, being polite, making sure they’re comfortable, and they’re ready to go.We want our guests to walk away from our interview experience with a really good feeling. Click To Tweet
Also, testing their audio, their equipment, and making sure they sound good. There was none of that that occurred in this recording as well. Fortunately, I’m a podcaster and I have my good quality microphone here. He probably suspected my audio would sound good, but that’s not always the case with the guest.
Taking a little time at the very beginning, assessing the situation, making sure your guest’s audio is the best it can be. I’m not saying it has to be perfect. If it’s not, what you want it to be is you shouldn’t still record the episode. Those are judgment calls that you, as a podcast host, will make. Most of the time, I would say the content is more important than the quality of the recording unless the quality of the recording is so annoying that people are not going to sit through it.
That’s pretty rare. That happened to me a few times and all the interviews I’ve had, where I was not going to air an episode because of that. Still, you want to assess that situation. You want to make sure that they’re going to sound good, and then you want to make sure they have proper expectations for what this experience is going to be.
In this case, I learned very abruptly that this was going to be a one-take, all in there, raw, it-is-what-it-is type of podcast, and I went with it. A lot of people would be caught off guard like that. I would always recommend speaking with your guests, setting those expectations like, “I’m going to record this all in one take, I’m going to introduce you right up front, and then we’ll jump into our questions. We’ll end it when the conversation feels like it’s over, and that’s that.” If that’s what it’s going to be, at least give them some expectation.
When I interview somebody, I do it in a few different parts. I have my questions ready, I’m going to do the interview, and then I’m going to say goodbye to the guests. After that, I’m going to record a little intro that I have experienced with that guest. I know what took place in the interview, and then I’ll record my final thoughts. Three different sections. They get put in the right order by our editors and put out as a great show.
I let my guests know that’s going to happen, “Just so you know, we’re going to start this interview. I’m going to jump in and ask you my first question. I’m not going to introduce you to the audience. I want you to know that’s not what the entire show is going to be. You’ll be introduced, but that’s a separate recording, and the audience will have heard it before they get to this interview. I don’t want you to feel like you need to explain who you are, or the audience isn’t going to know it. This is going to feel abrupt, but the entire show won’t be that way.”
I let them know what’s going to happen. I also let them know, “If you, at any point, say something that you wish you had said it better, you’d like to stop, go back a little bit, start again and improve that, you can do that. We can edit that other part out.” That’s how I do my show. Clearly, this other show was, “We’re having a conversation. Good, bad or indifferent. It’s got to be there. We’re going to do it.” I don’t think he edits very much. That’s the way it was.
I would have liked to have known that before we started. I didn’t know. I didn’t have that expectation, but whatever the experience is going to be, I highly recommend you share that with the guests right up front. The other thing that I thought was a missed opportunity. I knew this person many years ago. I met this man. He was in his 30s probably, and I was a pre-teen or teen. I remembered him but I haven’t spoken to this guy in many years. It’s been a long time. I thought it would have been great to have a little chitchat and build a little rapport before having the podcast interview.
I would always recommend that for any of you with your guests, especially if you don’t know them very well, I like to block out an hour for a podcast interview. Even if it’s not going to be at minimum an hour of time, I don’t necessarily expect that interview to take an hour, but I’m going to take a little time, do that tech check at the beginning, build a little rapport, set up expectations, then start recording.
Guest VIP Strategy
Sometime before the end of the hour, I’ll say goodbye to the guests and then I’ll record my intro and my final thoughts, those two other sections. It’s important to establish rapport with the guests, especially for those of you that are podcasting who’s trying to lead generate from your guests. I know not all shows do this, but there are quite a number of podcast shows that the host is inviting guests on their show that are their ideal client.
We call it the Guest VIP Strategy, where you’re treating them like a VIP, giving them a lot of exposure, maybe stroking their ego a bit, and helping tell their story. You’re building rapport with them because you’d like to contact them at some point after the episode airs and say, “I’ve been thinking more about you and your business. I see some opportunities for you. I wonder if you’d like to discuss that.”
They’re probably going to feel like the Law of Reciprocity that you were kind to them, interviewed them, and give them exposure on your show that they at least make a call or have that meeting. Building that rapport with them and making it a comfortable experience is important. Whether you’re targeting your guests to be your clients or not, I certainly think it shows them a little respect that you care. That’s something that I would do.When you have high-profile guests, you want your audio quality to be the best it can be. Click To Tweet
As I told you, this ended very abruptly. I was waiting for him to stop the recording. We were going to talk and set expectations. Maybe he’s going to tell me, “On the schedule, this one is going to air, we think, at the end of March.” I had nothing. I was gone. I was like, “Really?” It was off-putting, and I felt bad because I honestly felt like I didn’t say a proper goodbye on the air to him. That was awkward for me. We have our game face on when we’re interviewing and we’re thanking somebody, “Great to be on the show,” and all that.
It’s not the proper farewell that I would have liked to have had with that individual. It was highly awkward. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not the end of the world here, but I had this ill-feeling and it was disconcerting. It didn’t feel right about the whole thing to the point where a little while afterward, I typed him an email saying, “I’m sorry about how that ended awkwardly.” I was apologizing to him, even though it was his show and he set the whole thing up.
That’s another important lesson learned that we want our guests to walk away from our interview experience, recording it with a good feeling. We want them to be, “That was fun. That was valuable. It was entertaining. It was funny,” whatever it is. We want that guest to walk away feeling like, “That was worth my time. If he or she asks me back again, I’m going to do it. I have more story to tell, whatever it might be.”
That experience was super odd. You can tell it bothers me so much that I’m recording a whole episode about it. I’m hoping those of you reading that are working with us, I hope we’re preparing you better than that for this. I think we are but also, for those of you that are reading and you’re not working with us, you want to be intentional about your process.
I would even recommend sending correspondence and email something to your guests ahead of time with setting some expectations and letting them know how you conduct your podcast interviews, which is definitely a best practice. I have some boilerplate email copy that I send to my guests that prepares them for best practices to be in the best environment they can for audio recording. If they have a microphone, please use it even if it ends up being earbuds with a little microphone on it. A lot of times, it’s better than the microphone on your computer.
Improve Your Equipment
I’m going to share another detail here. I had someone referred to me by an existing customer. Whenever that happens, of course, I reach out to them and I offer to have a call, have a meeting with them to learn more about their podcasts and goals. When it’s an existing podcast, I listen to their show. I listened to a couple of episodes because I wanted to hear them. When I heard one episode and the audio quality of the host, it was not very good. Clearly, she was using the built-in microphone for her laptop.
Nothing better than a nice quality microphone. We’re always recommending that to use. I thought, “Maybe that’s a fluke or she was on the road. It was not an ideal situation, but she had a captive audience. She had this person she wanted to interview and she should interview right then.” That wasn’t the case I found because I listened to three different episodes and they all have the same audio call. I’m like, “This person is interviewing very high-level guests, even Hollywood actors and television personalities.” I’m not going to out who this person is because there’s still a prospect and hopefully, we can support them. When you have high-profile guests, you want your audio quality to be the best it can be.
Certainly to not be having people question, “How valuable is this podcast? Do I want to be on this show?” That’s what can happen. When people hear that you’re in this echo chamber and there’s a lot of noise in the recording, it either means you’re not bothering to do any editing or production, or you’re not paying attention to recording a good quality. It also says you probably don’t listen to your own episodes because I have a hard time believing if podcast hosts listen to their own episodes and heard an audio quality like that, they would be willing to accept it over a period of 50 episodes. 1, 2 or 3 in the very beginning, I would always say, “Record your content and get it out there.”
Stick The Landing
Even if you don’t have the best equipment, upgrade it as you can and improve it. That thing happens all the time. After many episodes, to have that quality audio really surprised me. It’s another observation unrelated to my podcast guest experience, but I experience listening to someone else’s show. Anyway, back to the guest experience, preparing your guests, very important set expectations. At the end of that experience, you want to stick the landing, so to speak, if to use a gymnastics term. You don’t want to stumble or crash and burn. You want to have that person walking away feeling good. Stop the recording, set expectations, let them know what they can expect when you think this will be published.
Are you going to send them a notification when it publishes? Let them know so they can be aware and they can share it with their followers. It’s important to close the loop, stick the landing and properly thank them that’s not on the air. Even though we’re all trying to be authentic in our podcasts, we’re not always going to put it all out there. We’re going to maybe say some things personally off the record that we wouldn’t say when we have that game face on for our audience.
When it comes to your experience, if you have a large enough audience and followings on social, you may want to go live with an episode or interview. You can control that experience, which I am now doing. I go live on Facebook and record the live part and then end that live part, but I’m still on the call with them afterwards.
Controlling your experience with your audience, your community, you can do a lot of good things, especially since pretty much everybody is working from home these days. I’ve got a dog and sometimes that will spook it. It will alarm bark or do something undesirable, and that’s something I wouldn’t air. I would let my guests know, “We’re going to edit that out. Let’s take a step back and start again.” It’s important to consider that experience even within an interview. That’s hard to do if you’re doing that whole one-take thing that Wayne did with me.
Another thing that I wanted to mention about this interview. If you are going to batch record, which I often do, record several interviews in a day, make sure you don’t schedule them back-to-back like one after the other. Give yourself a good half an hour break in between because some of them are going to go long, or you may need to save those recordings, get them organized from the previous one and then get prepared for starting the next one. Leave yourself some time to organize, and that will help your overall experience in producing a good result and not overwhelm yourself.
That rounds out everything that I was going to say about this. I’d be interested to learn if any of you have had any odd experiences being interviewed on other podcasts. If you’ve had any of those, let us know. Reach out to us anywhere at Feed Your Brand. We have @FeedYourBrand Facebook page. Our website is Podetize.com, and you can always send an email to Hello@Podetize.com. If you have anything to share, we’ll be interested to hear it. Perhaps, if there are some good ones, we can work some of those experiences or stories in a future episode. Thanks so much, everybody. Until next time. This has been Tom on Feed Your Brand.
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