How to Be a Podcast Superhero: Substance & Style

How to Be a Podcast Superhero: Substance & Style

By Stacey Piper and Stephanie Hendricks

Many of our clients have had opportunities to be podcast guests. It’s not surprising. According to a recent survey of govcon journalists, 30% already have a podcast, and another 20% are considering starting one. Our Piper Strategies clients have recently guested on podcasts for Government Technology Insider and others. In fact, I even had the chance to make a guest appearance on GovCon After Hours recently. Many companies have their own podcasts as well, so there can be a wide range of media, in-house, and partnership opportunities to explore. We’ve worked with clients, including Metronome’s Pulse Wave and Procon’s Build Up podcasts, to feature key thought leaders on in-house podcasts.

Whether truly editorial or created as sponsored content, podcasts can be an excellent way for clients in the B2G marketplace to grow visibility as thought leaders, share information about key issues, and position your company and its products as effective solutions. But with so many podcasts out there, how can you make sure you stand out as a great guest who engages the audience and gets invited back? You want to be the person who establishes a great rapport with the host, has something interesting to say, and handles questions with confidence and ease.

10 Tips to Unlock Your Podcasting Superpowers

We’ve compiled a few tips to help you come prepared and be ready to give your best performance.

  1. Do your research. Look at how the podcast is promoted online and on social media. Check out the host’s bio and LinkedIn profile. Read reviews of the podcast on iTunes or Spotify. If a media outlet produces the podcast, look at recent news stories to get a sense of what issues they are covering. If you aren’t the only guest, read up on your fellow guests as well. Look for appearances on other podcasts and media interviews.

  2. Know the audience. Ultimately, you and the podcast host have the same goal—to deliver content that listeners find interesting and useful. To do that, you’ve got to know who those listeners are. Don’t be afraid to ask the host or producer questions in advance to make sure you have a feel for who’s tuning in and what messages will resonate best.

  3. Get a sense of style. Listen to a few recent episodes to get a feel for the host’s style. Do they do a lot of back-and-forth chatting, or do they seem to prefer a more “interview” style with direct questions and answers? Do they joke around, or are they more intense and serious? You want your energy and style to match theirs.

  4. The conversation before the conversation. If you are creating a podcast as sponsored content, you may have a great deal of control over the questions asked and the editing of the final product. If the opportunity is more purely editorial, you may not know all the questions in advance, but it is perfectly acceptable to discuss with the host or producer in advance what topics will be covered and what questions might come up. Many hosts appreciate this, as they may not be as knowledgeable about the subject as you are.

  5. Put in the prep time. There’s nothing more boring than listening to someone simply read a prepared statement. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come in with some talking points so you know what messages you want to communicate and are prepared to effectively deliver them. Even if you don’t have the questions in advance, take time to think about what you might be asked, and how you would answer. Support with interesting data or examples. Make sure that your messages and any calls to action or resources that you mention are tailored to the audience.

  6. It’s NOT a scripted performance. Even if you have outlined questions in advance, the conversation may move in different ways. Many hosts won’t have every question outlined. They often formulate the next question based on how you answered the previous one. Keep your answers short—two or three sentences at most. But be careful not to interrupt or talk over the host or other guests, as it makes editing much more difficult later. Also, be mindful of your speed—speak slowly enough to be clear, and don’t forget to pause between sentences.

  7. Emphasize your key messages. Call attention to the things you want the audience to know. Some of the best “flagging” techniques to draw listeners in are framing statements such as “the most important factor is…,” “what we hear most from our clients is…,” “the key point is…,” “the bottom line is…,” “the best part about…,” “the three most exciting elements are….” Statements like these send a clear signal that what you are about to say is important.

  8. Getting off (and back on) track. So what if the questions are starting to stray too far from the messages you want to be putting out? Try “bouncing” questions back to the host can help keep things on track: “So do you think your listeners would like to hear more about A?” “Should we talk more about B?”

  9. You don’t want to go there. What if you’re asked something that you’d really rather not answer? “Bridging” is extremely useful for responding to more difficult questions, or questions that you feel are off-topic for the message you want to deliver. “That’s an interesting point, but I think it’s more relevant that…,” “I’m not sure that’s the best solution to the issue,” “Research shows that…,” “that’s not really something I’m prepared to talk about today, but I do think it’s important that….” When you are preparing, think about the questions that you don’t want to be asked, and come up with an appropriate response. Make sure you have facts ready, and don’t be argumentative.

  10. End with a thank you and call to action. As the interview comes to a close, don’t forget to thank the host for having you on his or her podcast. It’s also helpful to have a call to action for listeners who want more information. This is when it might be appropriate for a sales pitch or special promotion for listeners—just make sure to discuss with the host in advance! Really smart marketers can even point to a landing page created especially for the podcast, which can help you track analytics and ROI from your end.

And now that you’re done? Don’t forget to link to the podcast on your company’s website and promote it on your social media!

Now that you’re prepared and ready to speak, remember that how you sound can be as important as what you say. Stay tuned for part two of this series on how to be a podcast superhero, when we will discuss how to deliver good sound quality as a podcast guest.


Want to develop podcast skills for you or your team? Contact me for a consultation with your leadership team.

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