Podcasts: 4 Tips to Prepare for a Great Guest Interview

May 2, 2018

Someday, you may be able to tell your grandchildren you lived through the golden age of podcasts.

From the humble beginnings of first being listed in iTunes in 2005 to the emergence of “Serial” as the medium’s first breakout star in 2014, podcasts have evolved from “the nichiest, wonkiest content platforms to a star-studded, self-contained media ecosystem with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual advertising revenue,” according to Wired.

Plenty of Americans have noticed. A report last year from Edison Research found that 112 million Americans had listened to a podcast, a jump of 11 percent from the prior year. Overall, 40 percent of Americans age 12 or older have listened to a podcast at some point, and the demographics don’t skew as youthful as you might think. For the first time, more Americans aged 25 to 55 were monthly podcast listeners than those aged 12 to 24, the report found.

Podcasting has, of course, made its way into healthcare, just as it has with other industries. Popular healthcare podcasts include TEDtalks Health, Harlow on Healthcare, Mayo Clinic Radio and Healthcare Tech Talk, just to name a few.

So there’s a fairly strong chance that you or an executive you work with will be asked to appear as a guest on a podcast if it hasn’t happened already. If and when that happens, following the tips below will help ensure a successful podcast, and hopefully a return invitation. (Many of these recommendations are applicable to media interviews, in general.)

  • Research the podcast and host: In short, do your homework. Nothing says, “I have no clue why I’m doing this interview, but my public relations person told me I should, so here I am,” like an interview subject who doesn’t know the name of the media outlet (podcast) or reporter (podcast host) that he or she is speaking with. In such circumstances, trust me that the host is not blind to the apathy and indifference the subject is showing toward the podcast, and it will immediately start the interview in a negative place. Research the host’s background and listen to a few episodes. What topics does the show cover? Does it have an agenda, or is it fairly neutral? What is the background of other guests? In some cases, interviewers will use a standard opener (“Tell me about yourself and your company.”) and closer (“Anything else you want to mention?”). By identifying those routine questions ahead of time, it’s easy to be prepared to knock them out of the park.
  • Hone your message: Really, there’s no reason not to knock virtually every question out of the park, as long as you’ve prepared a few talking points. Here’s where the research you did in the prior step comes into play. Once you’ve identified what the show is about and who the audience is, tailor your talking points to individuals in those professions. If it’s a podcast about a niche like electronic health records, for example, you can bet the audience is generally very knowledgeable on the topic, so feel free to get as far down into the weeds as you like. If it’s a general healthcare podcast that runs the gamut of the industry, keep the talking points more brief and high-level. Be sure to write out your talking points, keep them in front of you during your interview, and hammer these key themes multiple times, so listeners have no doubt about what you and your company are about.
  • Think about sound quality: To state the obvious – podcasts are something people listen to, so sound quality is kind of important. If you’re being interviewed over the phone, use a landline. If the interview is via Skype or a similar application, be sure your internet connectivity is strong. In either case, using a good quality headset is definitely a plus. Find a quiet place with a closed door away from dogs, kids, coworkers or any other distractions. Finally, be sure to have a cup of water (or another favorite beverage) next to you at all times to avoid a scratchy, hoarse-sounding voice.
  • Promote the interview: Before the interview, post messages on your social channels previewing it and sharing your excitement about appearing. Tag the host, who will notice it and appreciate it. After the interview do the same, thanking the host for an enjoyable and stimulating conversation. Post it on your website and include it in any relevant e-mail campaigns, too. You worked hard to prepare for the podcast, so be sure to get as much mileage out of the appearance as possible.

Podcasting is certainly enjoying a cultural moment, but the medium likely has more staying power than just a moment. Despite the surge in popularity noted in the statistics above, Edison’s report found that just 60 percent of Americans are “familiar” with the term podcasting.

That means podcasting holds strong growth potential as the other 40 percent of the nation begins to discover the medium in the coming years. When you or a colleague receive your first invitation, remember these tips to prepare for a successful podcast guest interview.

Brandon Glenn

Brandon Glenn is a veteran journalist and marketing and communications professional, with experience in content marketing, social media, media relations and news writing. He gained a deep knowledge of the health IT industry while working as a reporter and editor for MedCity News, which covers the business of innovation in healthcare, and as a senior editor with Medical Economics, a publication that focuses on issues of importance to primary care physicians. In these positions, he also wrote extensively about the hospitals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices industries. Brandon began his journalism career as a reporter with Crain's Cleveland Business and, later, Crain's Chicago Business. Earlier, he was an analyst with consulting firm Accenture. Brandon earned a master's in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Purdue University.