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.


 
This guide is provided by Writing and Breathing, a show where Antony Johnston chats with other authors of all kinds about why, how, and what we write.
 
Listen at WritingAndBreathing.com



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 Garratino 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: SKYPE

Most podcasters use Skype to make their shows. If you don't have it already, download it here and create an account (it's free). Next, ask your host for their Skype username. Add it to your Skype buddy list, and tell them your username in email as well, just in case.

Your host may use different software, such as Zoom or Zencastr; if so they'll tell you. Don't be afraid to ask them for help if you're unsure about anything.

2: MICROPHONE

Use an external microphone if you have one. If you don't have an external microphone, use a headset, or your iPhone earbuds. If you don't have those either, you can use your computer's built-in microphone — but that should be a last resort, as the sound quality will be poor.

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; there are many basic $50 models available that sound good, and undoubtedly better than your computer's built-in mic.

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. More importantly, it makes your audio ‘clean’, by preventing your microphone from accidentally picking up your host's voice when they speak.


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 down to the bottom.

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 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. The following video shows how to do this:

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're going to use for the call.

Once you have Audacity installed, you're ready to record. The following video shows how to do this:

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 embarrassed. Nobody is born knowing how to record audio to a computer!


Podcast Guest Guide PDF

All the information and advice on this page is also available in a handy PDF. Feel free to download it for your reference.

Click here to download the Podcast Guest Guide PDF.



(P.S. For the nerds)

If you expect to appear on a lot of podcasts; or 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.

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 2020-05-28

Click here to visit Antony's website