Hello, podcast guest!

There are many guides and how-tos out there for people who want to make podcasts. But what if someone's invited you to be on their podcast, and you don't know what you're supposed to do?

Don't worry. This page is here to help guests like you. We'll make sure you're ready for your appearance, and help you sound great. We'll even show you how to record your ‘end’ of the conversation, if a host asks you to.


 
Antony is best known as an author, but he's also a veteran podcaster with hundreds of shows as both host and guest to his credit. Check out his podcasts (including Writing and Breathing, where he chats with fellow authors) at this link.



Rule #1: Don't Panic!

Podcasts are an informal medium, and sound best when the guests are having a real conversation, rather than talking in sound bites. So you don't have to be ‘radio perfect’ — in fact, being too slick can sometimes be a bad thing. Podcast listeners want to hear the real you, and they want you to enjoy yourself. If you're having fun, they'll love listening to you.

Trin Garritano from Kickstarter Games has some great tips on how to sound more relaxed and natural:

How to Sound Pretty Good on a Podcast: Useful Advice for Beginners


3 Steps to Sound Great

These tips will explain how you can take part, and help you get the best sound quality.

1: SOFTWARE

Podcasting used to require separate software like Skype, but these days most podcasts are created using web-based services such as Streamyard and Zencastr, or video conferencing apps like Zoom. If your host is using one of these, they'll send you a link at some point before recording. All you have to do is click/tap the link and give the app or website access to your microphone (and camera, if you're also recording video).

If your host hasn't told you how they record, or if you're not familiar with the service or app they use, ask them so they can help you get set up. Your host wants you to have a good time on their show, so don't be embarrassed.

2: MICROPHONE

Use an external microphone if you have one. If you don't have an external microphone, use a headset, AirPods, or phone earbuds. If you don't have those either, you can use your computer or phone's built-in microphone as a last resort, but the sound quality won't be as good.

If you expect to appear on even a couple of podcasts per year, it's worth buying a microphone. You don't have to spend a fortune; you'll be amazed how much even a basic $50 model immediately improves your sound quality.

3: HEADPHONES

Wear headphones or earbuds of some kind during the call. This may mean you hear yourself as you talk, which can be a bit weird at first! But you'll quickly get used to it, and it's worth it for the improvement in sound quality.

Wearing headphones makes your audio ‘clean’, because it stops your microphone from accidentally picking up the voices of other people on the call.


Recording the call

Many podcasts will handle all the recording; all you have to do is call in, chat with the hosts, and let them take care of everything. If so, you can skip right ahead to the bottom of the page.

Some hosts, though, may ask you to record your ‘end’ of the call. Don't worry, it's not as difficult as it sounds. Let's walk you through it.

First, you only need to record your side of the conversation. Your host will take care of everything else. All you have to do is set up your microphone to record your own voice to an audio file. When the call is finished, your host will ask you to send them that file (probably using a service like Dropbox) and then they'll edit everything together so it sounds like you're having a conversation in the same room.

If you're a Mac user, good news: you can use the built-in QuickTime Player app to record yourself. Watch this video to see how:

If you can't see the video above, click here to view it on YouTube.


If you're a Windows user, things are a teensy bit more complicated, because first you'll have to download Audacity, a free audio application, and install it on the computer you'll use for the call.

Once you have Audacity installed, you're ready to record. Watch this video to see how:

If you can't see the video above, click here to view it on YouTube.


Remember: the most important thing is to relax, and have fun.

If you still have questions, don't hesitate to ask the show's host. They want you to sound great, so don't be afraid to ask. We all started somewhere.

Feel free to keep this page open while you're setting up, or even during the recording, and...

Good luck! — Antony Johnston


(P.S. For the nerds)

If you expect to appear on a lot of podcasts; if you've been bitten by the bug and want to start a show yourself; or even if you're just a big old nerd and want to know how the veterans do it, then these links are for you.

Jason Snell of The Incomparable writes about podcasting methods in the following articles on his website Six Colors:

Why you might want to give podcasting a try
Set up a basic podcasting studio for less than $100
How Jason records his shows
How Jason edits his shows

Dan Benjamin of 5by5 also has advice for you. NB Dan's guides are aimed at those intending to make serious, higher quality podcasts.

Dan's Podcasting Equipment Guide
The Podcast Method, a show all about making podcasts

Veteran podcaster Marco Arment (who also created the popular podcast app Overcast) has an extremely comprehensive review covering many popular and recommended mics on the market, complete with audio samples.

The Podcasting Microphones Mega-Review



© Antony Johnston. Last update 2024-01-13

Click here to visit Antony's website