It doesn’t matter how great your message is or if you are an industry leading expert, if you show up to a podcast guest interview with subpar equipment it will minimize your expertise.
Sounding like a pro starts with the right equipment.
There is reason that a professional microphone is part of our client welcome packages. We know they are experts and have a story to share but their message won’t go beyond the podcast recording if they have poor audio.
Equipment choices like microphones and headphones are nearly limitless but there are some key things to consider before making a purchase.
Here is the basics you need to know before making a purchase and the equipment we recommend to our clients.
There are two main classes of microphones: Dynamic and Condenser.
You see performers use dynamic mics when their mouth is close to the microphone. For most podcast guests these mics work well. They are great for not picking up background noise from other room, fans, clocks, pets or the outdoors. Some of our Founder Tom Schwab’s best and biggest interviews (he’s been on more than 1,000 shows) have been done in a noisy hotel with a dynamic microphone, a computer, and a strong internet connection.
In our experience, we’ve found the ATR 2005 USB to be a great dynamic microphone and is decently priced, costing less than $100 on Amazon. The professional grade mic plugs into any computer with a USB port so you don’t need a mixer. We’ve found it to be much better quality than the cheaper commercial grade ATR-2100 USB where the on/off switch fails at an annoying rate for us. Plus the ATR 2005 comes with a much better warranty.
Sometimes appearance matters, especially with more and more podcasts moving to video. So you may need something a little more aesthetically pleasing. The Heil PR-40 looks nice and also an excellent functional microphone. This beauty comes with a bigger price tag than the ATR, costing more than $300, but it looks like a legitimate recording studio mic. So if you need to visually look the part you may need to consider this option.
Note: If you don’t have a mixer, you will need to purchase a separate XLR to USB cable with the Heil PR-40.
Your recording set-up will play a part in determining what kind of microphone you’ll want. A condenser mic is built to be omnidirectional. Meaning it will pick up all the noises in your room. This works if you record in a quiet studio or with multiple people near each other. However in the wrong setting, they can provide terrible audio.
Blue Yeti is a great condenser microphone you can find online for around $130. Current models have settings for how the mic picks up sound, so it can actually have the feel of a dynamic mic.
Finding your style
What kind of microphone should you start with as a podcast guest? It depends. The microphone you choose will depend on a few things. Style is one factor, as is cost. Brands like Shure, Neumann, MXL, Rode, Behringer and more.
As a podcast guest, quality is important. However, keep in mind that your interview lifespan may be limited. Spending all your budget on a microphone may not be the wisest move.
As you explore podcasting and maybe decide to launch your own show, you may end up with an upgrade. Until then, consider your recording space, your style and your budget.
You have more freedoms when it comes to headphones, it is largely a personal preference. No matter what headphones you use, they are necessary to avoid feedback from your speakers back into your mic.
Probably the biggest consideration is the style. Earbuds work just fine, especially if you don’t want to mess up your hair. Just make sure you are not using the microphone on the earbuds for your audio, you want to stick with your nice professional mic.
Others prefer the classic “can” style headphones. These are nice because they are better at blocking out background noise, which eliminates distraction so you can focus better on your conversation. Regardless of your choice you want something that is comfortable. Tom prefers the SONY MDR 7506 Professional, which are just under $100 on Amazon because they are comfortable and have great sound quality.
More and more podcasts include video, the pandemic was a major catalyst in this change. Pre-pandemic one in five podcasts captured video, now three out of four are video. So, it’s probably a good idea to be camera ready with the right video equipment.
Much like audio, your video quality can effect how the audience receives your message. With an added factor of how your video quality is relative to the podcast host. As more podcasts move to video and invest in equipment, you want to match their quality as to not diminish how your expertise is received.
Video equipment can get expensive quickly so you want to consider your budget and usage. How often will you use it? What will it be used for? Here are our Good, Better, and Best camera suggestions.
Your computer likely has an internal camera. Unless your computer is brand new and has an amazing camera we suggest getting an external webcam. Logitech makes some good basic webcams starting around $30 like this the C615.
With the growing popularity of video, many hosts are moving to 4K video. This is nice because your video will look just as good on a big screen TV as it does on your phone. The Logitech Brio comes in at under $150, offers 4K plus has controls to give you a wide or narrow view.
If you want studio quality video, a DSLR camera can give you that. In addition to high quality video, it gives you depth of field meaning you can slightly blur your background or keep it crisp and sharp. The difference is will be noticable by your audience but it will cost you. Be ready to invest around $1,000 for a DSLR camera, lenses and cables.
Tom does a lot of video between meetings, podcast interviews, speaking engagements and live events so he opted for the DSLR investment. He currently uses the Sony Alpha a6400.
Here are some accessories we suggest to dress up your mic and improve its functionality.
This little gadget comes in handy. You will be amazed how often you may need to easily mute for a cough or sneeze. The Short Stop Momentary Muting Switch made by Pro Co allows you to push a button to cut your sound without any noticeable click in the audio. As long as you are holding the button down you are muted, which will eliminate any confusion if your mute is off or on. You can get that here for around $100.
Note: This requires an XLR connection. So, if you are plugging straight into your computer you will need an XLR to USB adapter cable like this one, $12.
An arm allows you to mount your mic to your desk or table and move it around as needed. This Neewer boom arm kit comes complete with a pop filter and adapter for less than $20.
A mic flag is a great way to subtly brand all of your appearances. There is a reason why TV reporters always use them, anyone who watches the video or sees a screen grab will see it. It’s great for branding consistency for public interviews or private video chats with clients. We’ve found the best mic flags come from Impact PBS, staring around $50.
Pro Tip: If you have multiple brands, consider a 3-sided model so you can rotate as necessary for appropriate branding.
If you find that you pop your P and B letters you may want to add a pop filter. They are low cost but really help improve your audio quality. They are largely universal and easily attach to the front of your mic. This Aokeo is $11 on Amazon.
See This Equipment Used In Real Time
Go behind the scenes of Tom’s office. Tom, having done over 1000 interviews himself, shows the equipment he has found that work best for the podcast platform. See in real time how different cameras and microphones make you look and sound while you’re recording.
A podcast one sheet is your holy grail to getting booked as a podcast guest and nailing the podcast interview.
When you are reaching out to prospective podcasts to do a guest interview, the podcast one sheet is critical for showing the host exactly why you would be a good guest for their show. It also articulates key points that make the interview itself easier for the host to facilitate. When you create a killer podcast one sheet as the guest, everyone wins. Plus, it increases the likelihood of being invited back.
When you send out inquiries to podcast hosts to be a guest, including your one sheet will show you are a professional and plan to take the interview seriously. It will show the host a clear picture of the value and expertise you can provide to their show and their audience.
It is also a good idea to send the one sheet to the host prior to your interview once you are booked for the show as well. It shows initiative and eliminates the extra step for the host to search through previous emails to find it.
So, what are the key components to include on a podcast one sheet? After over 50,000 interviews and lots of feedback from podcast hosts, Interview Valet gives you the nine key components that every podcast guest should include on their podcast one sheet.
9 Key Components of a Killer Podcast One Sheet
1| A Clear Picture for Social Media
At the top of your one sheet, have a clear, high-quality headshot that will be easy for the podcast host to pull for promotion on social media or their website.
2| Books or Logos
Include a high-quality image of your business logo. If you have written a book, include your latest or most popular book as well. You want to tie yourself with your brand and imagery.
3| A Testimonial That Would Be Meaningful To Them
This isn’t where the testimonial from your mom goes. Choose a testimonial best suited for the niche or industry of the podcast you are reaching out to. For example, if you are looking to guest on an investment podcast and you have a testimonial from a renowned real estate investor, use that one.
4| Contact Information—Social Media, Phone Number, Email
Don’t make the host guess which Karen Smith you are on LinkedIn. Write out your URLs and social media handles and hyperlink them. That way, the host can find you by clicking on the link if the one sheet is on their computer, and the information is still visible in printed form as well.
5| Who You Are, Your Role, and Your Title
Make this stand out. It should be clearly written front and center along the top of the page. Again, it should apply to the skills you want to present on the podcast.
6| Talk about Your Key Focus
What value do you bring to the podcast show? Emphasize the skills and values that align with the show in a way that will encourage listeners to want to tune in to listen.
Here’s a space for you to put some information about yourself. Keep it professional. Hosts don’t want to hear about your family and your 6-acre farm. Keep it applicable to what the podcast show audience would be interested in.
8| Rip and Read Intro
Have a section that contains a third-person introduction of you exactly how you would like to be introduced. This enables the host to “rip and read” your introduction without much thought. This will make you and the podcast host look good because you are ensuring they get it right every time.
9| Provide a List of Interview Topics
This isn’t a space for you to provide word-for-word questions that the host will ask. Instead, offer topic prompts. Big ideas are a great jumping-off point for you and the host to go into deeper. This also facilitates continuity for branding across all your interviews.
This isn’t a resume. It should be one page, easy-to-read, and easy-to-navigate for the podcast host. When people get confused by looking at a one sheet, they are unlikely to spend time trying to figure it out; they will toss it in the trash can. So, be mindful of your design and ensure it isn’t cluttered.
Four Things You Should Avoid
We told you what you should include, but what should you leave out?
1| Pick Your Color Scheme Wisely
The most important part of your color scheme is that it promotes easy readability. White text on a black background is difficult to read and isn’t printer friendly. Dark text on a white background is easiest on the eyes and takes the strain off the reader.
2| Make Sure Your One Sheet Is Easy to Navigate
Again, don’t get too creative with this. Prioritize simplicity over cleverness. You want the reader to look at your one sheet and know exactly what they are looking at. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Titles should be big and bold, and each section should be separated in a way that guides the reader’s eyes along the page.
3| A One Sheet Isn’t a Resume
Your one sheet isn’t a resume, so it shouldn’t look like one. It should highlight everything the host needs to know, but it doesn’t need to cover nearly as much information as a resume. The host doesn’t need a detailed list of your work history and your GPA from school. It should be a quick summary of skills, expertise, and achievements.
4| Focus on What’s In It for the Host and the Audience
It’s easy to get caught up in the wrong information. Create your one sheet bearing in mind that the host and audience knows nothing about you. What do they need to know for you to gain their trust as a thought leader in your industry? Read your one sheet from the lens of the host and the listener. What should you highlight to draw them in?
Looking For More?
Read more about podcast interview marketing with these resources.
Understanding things from someone else’s point of view is key in being self-aware. It is easy to only focus on things from our own perspective, but often the most beneficial growth occurs when we step outside of our own view and look through a different lens.
Which is what prompted this little research project. We have relationships with hundreds of podcast hosts in an array of industries, and our team reached out asking if they had any advice they want guests to know. There are some common threads like being prepared, be authentic, and show up on time. And some things you thought you should be doing but it’s better if you don’t, like being salesy.
This advice proves what we have long been trying to convey when it comes to podcast guest interviews. It’s about having genuine conversation between two people with common expertise and messaging. A conversation with the purpose of sharing experience and knowledge with an engaged audience.
Here are the 57 Pieces Of Advice For Podcast Guests from Podcast Hosts
“There is power in sharing your most vulnerable stories, allowing audiences to see themselves in your triumphs.”
“Be present and open. Remember that you’re having a conversation with the host and that listeners will resonate with you when you’re authentic.”
“Be prepared, but not rehearsed.”
“Have a framework or at least a story behind the key idea you want to share. Humans retain information significantly better when it’s well structured. I spent a few years of my life making a living as a professional keynote speaker and this was my biggest lesson. Structure is 80% of a good talk, being a good speaker is the other 20%”
“Know ME, my AUDIENCE, and seek to SERVE, not sell.”
“My tip for guests would be – remember you’re a guest! You’re the one being invited into someone’s home, which happens to be a podcast. Be courteous and show up as the best version of yourself that you’d truly like someone to meet. If the host is a few minutes late, understand they may be coming from a screaming toddler (if they work from home) or an interview just before yours that happened to go long. This is not your moment to be judgmental, it’s your chance to open your heart.”
“Read the instructions provided by the show host, relax, and have fun. If you are truly the expert you say you are, there isn’t any question that should worry you.”
“Avoid lengthy monologues. Being an interesting guest means having a lively back and forth. This not only makes the host feel more comfortable in the conversation, but also helps the listener stay engaged by keeping things moving.”
“Be consistent, be narrow, and be yourself – not some perceived construct of what a podcast guest should be.”
“Take the time to promote your guest appearances. You’d be surprised how many people will spend hours doing podcast interviews, but fail to take advantage of telling the world about them! It also helps show hosts when they get new backlinks. Start with a blog post with a link to the show. You can simplify the process by creating a post template. Bonus tip: If you do this before you record, you can create a landing page with a URL that references the show, such as [yoursite.com]/showname. Post about the episode on social media, and be sure to mention the host.”
“Be open to connecting and serving by creating a remark-worthy experience as opposed to being focused on acquiring and or selling.”
“Oftentimes being on a podcast can be intimidating, and the best advice I can give is being well prepared. In preparation it is always best to review some of the podcast episodes beforehand. This will give you as the guest a better understanding of the host, their brand, and the tone of the podcast. Make sure to speak with the host prior to the recording to find out if they have an outline or agenda for the episode. This will help you prepare your talking points. I suggest making bullet points and doing your best to not read from a script. The best podcasts are conversational and have a smooth natural flow to them, as if you were talking over coffee. Lastly and maybe the most important – make sure to prepare a quiet space, have a reliable microphone and internet connection for the recording.”
“Have a story.”
“Use stories to deliver your points. Listeners learn best through stories. Stories help us understand and remember lessons. You’ll be more memorable as a podcast guest if you can tie your lesson into a story to make your point!”
“Make sure your message is concise.”
“Be prepared. Be passionate, understand the audience that you’re speaking to, and deliver tangible takeaways that the target audience can walk away immediately and implement into their business, or apply to their lives.”
“Give tremendous value to the audience – I judge my episodes by how many people tell me – that episode was great – the more value you give my listeners the happier I am!”
“Listen to the podcast BEFORE you go on.”
“I would say the best thing to do is listen to the show you’re going on, have a story that relates to the host audience, and be prepared!”
“Always focus on sharing lessons you have learned instead of trying to advertise your business. Subscribers are giving their valuable time to your episode so it’s important for them to have some key takeaways.”
“Keep it short and practice your message.”
“Invest in a decent microphone and TRY to get on as many podcasts as you can.”
“Give thoughtful but brief answers to host questions and allow give and take to make a better interview.”
“Have a good Mic and be present.”
“Be legendary & have quality audio/video/internet.”
“Send the host a very specific list of topics or potential questions where you can shine that align with their core audience.”
“Be prepared with quality mic and be on time.”
“Be natural. Tell stories.”
“Don’t get stuck on your way of doing things. Have the standard things prepared, your headshot, bio, questions, opt-in links, etc… but then be prepared to have a conversation and have a little fun with it. Trust that their show is going to go the way every other one of their shows have gone, awesomely, and have a conversation with them. Especially true when the host has history. Otherwise have some training points prepared…. And if they ask you an off the wall question, just talk about the first thing that comes to mind and have fun with it.”
“The episode isn’t about you and the value proposition of your business…it’s about the quality content that you can share that will help the listener get better.”
“Practice speaking with authority.”
“Connecting to an audience is all about story. Work on how you tell your stories that are compelling, draw people in and allow them to see themselves in the situation or relate to what has gone on in their lives.”
“Find a quiet location where you can be seated and comfortable for the entire chat.”
“Share openly and honestly.”
“Show up prepared and respect the audience.”
“Be prepared to talk about your content – don’t make the host drag it out of you.”
“Don’t be pretentious and brag about yourself, and toss it back to the host after 2-3 minutes of talking max.”
“Get a headset with a microphone.”
“Show up prepared.”
“Don’t promote your product or program like an infomercial; a good host will present you with that time.”
“Don’t hold back the good stuff.”
“Do not expect that all shows are the same. Do your homework if you expect to do well on the show.”
“Tell stories AND pause to let the host guide you.”
“Be confident and CLEAR and want to help my audience get what they want no matter what.”
“Promote the show that has you on. Everyone wins. So few guests promote.”
“Remember that a podcast is a SAFE place where you can be yourself.”
“Don’t sell so hard. Tell more stories.”
“Give space to the host to ask questions. Sometimes they run on and on. Be concise.”
“Don’t ask me to guest just because you have a new book.”
“Show up early and have a quality mic ready.”
“Be in a quiet room and don’t fidget with stuff on your desk. And for Gods sake, don’t start typing during the interview.”
Want to find out more about Podcast Guesting?