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3 Things That Make You Stand Out From The Crowd As A Podcast Guest
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Podcast guesting has become one of the most significant exposure-gaining opportunities in the digital world. Because of this, people are flocking to the medium. Unfortunately, most people end up making costly mistakes while being interviewed. In this blog post, Mark Herschberg shares 3 tips to help you stand out as a podcast guest. Mark explains that by avoiding visuals, keeping content evergreen, and not talking over hosts, you’ll step into a further level of guesting mastery. Get ready to start winning more as a podcast guest!
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I’ve appeared as a podcast guest in over 350 episodes. I’m here to give you three essential tips to help you give a great episode as a guest. First, don’t use visuals.
I know sometimes we feel the visual is essential to our brand and style. It illustrates our point. And that’s great if you’re doing a live talk in front of an audience. But it doesn’t always work for podcasts. And there are a few reasons for this.
Focus On Audio, Not Video, To Stand Out As A Podcast Guest
First, remember some of the audience might be visually impaired. We want to be inclusive. We want to be accessible to all the audience members. Second, note that many listeners are doing audio-only. They might be on a platform that doesn’t have a video channel, even if it’s recorded in video, even if it’s getting shared on YouTube or in other video channels.
The host might also strip out the audio and have an audio-only version. So, some of your listeners may not even see the video, even if they have access to it. And I know some hosts who told me YouTube is our biggest channel. That’s where we get most of our listeners. That’s fantastic.
“Don’t use visuals on a podcast. We want to be inclusive and accessible to all listeners, even those who are visually impaired. Remember, not everyone can see it.” – Mark Hirschberg
And they’re using a visual medium, but that doesn’t mean they’re using a visual medium. We know many people listen to podcasts and even videos while they’re driving while they’re exercising. They might be out for a run. And so even though the video is available, they may not be in a place where it’s convenient for them to watch. They can’t look at it because their eyes are focused elsewhere.
Or it’s just so tiny. If you’re watching from your cell phone, say on a morning commute, and holding up something small, how big will that appear on the cell phone? So, when doing visual things, you must remember that not everyone can see them. Avoid using visual examples. But, if you feel you have to use one.
If You Have to Use Visuals, Describe It In Detail
If it is critical, then you should be explicit and describe what you are doing. This means you shouldn’t be using slides because remember what we’ve learned about slide presentations. You don’t want to sit there and read the slide to your audience. Those who can see it would then be bored, saying you’re reading the slide. I can read it myself. But of course, the people who can’t see it would say, please read the slide because I can’t.
And so you’re never going to satisfy both audiences. That’s why we don’t want to use slides, and we want to be extremely limited and careful in using any visual example while being a guest or host on a podcast. Now, I did say maybe there’s something where you feel it is visual. And, of course, we can think of things like air quotes when people put a word in air quotes.
Another Tip on Visuals That Make You Stand Out As A Podcast Guest
In that case, I just put the quotes around the word. But if you were listening, only you didn’t see my fingers doing that. So if I’m going to do that, I want to be explicit when we use this word, and I’m putting that in air quotes, then we can do something else. And so what just happened? Visual people did see me do the quotes, but those who were audio only heard me explicitly say, I put that word in air quotes so they can follow along.
So, if you are doing something visual, brief it and be explicit about it. But better yet, there are no visuals and do not do slides. This is not a webinar; it’s a podcast. So, don’t use any slides and limited visuals. Second, your content should be evergreen.
“Make your content evergreen. Remember that listeners may not have the same temporal context as us, so give examples and provide context that can be understood regardless of when they listen.” – Mark Hirschberg
We naturally think about the conversation we’re having here and now with the host, but people will be listening to this episode in the future, and they might not have the same temporal context we do. You might be saying, my book is coming out next week, or just last week, the Fed raised interest rates. That is true. The Fed at the time I’m recording this in 2023, but that might not be true when you’re listening in 2025. So, we want to give an example that has the temporal context.
Keep The Future In Mind
So what I usually do when I’m talking well, when we’re recording this now, at the end of the summer of 2023, we’re about one month away from my app release. And so now I’m giving you context, and if you’re hearing this maybe the week after, you’re saying, oh, okay, the app isn’t out yet, but when you’re hearing it two years from now, you’re saying, well, yes, it is. When I say right now, the Fed has just raised interest rates, and of course, we’re talking about summer of 2023, then when it’s 2025, and they’re lowering interest rates, you say, okay, I get that was then, this is now. Specific topics are very context-sensitive. So, for example, I’m doing a lot of talks here in 2023 on artificial intelligence.
Stand Out As A Podcast Guest By Keeping It Evergreen
This is an area where we’re seeing a lot of dynamic change, and what might be true one month or three months later is very different. So I’m always careful to give the timing of when I do it well, as we’re talking about artificial intelligence and regulation here. When we’re recording in March of 2023, there are not a lot of regulations going on. Now, I said March of 2023 or Spring or just some context because if you’re listening in 2025, you might be thinking, well, there now is a lot of regulation going on. And if you didn’t know that I was recording it, you might think, well, this guy, he’s out of touch. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. But oh, he said 2023.
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So, of course, yes, I remember there wasn’t much back then. And this way, they have the context. The only possible exception is if you have something very explicit about, say, we’re going to talk about, this is an episode on the Oscar red carpet, 2023, and it might start okay. Last night, we had the Oscars in 2023, and what do you think of the fashion? But we’re very clear about the context of this very time-sensitive episode.
But that’s an exception. Even if you’re doing something that seems time-relevant, it may not be. A good example is when you’re podcasting on movies or TV shows. You might have one saying, oh, we’re going to review the TV show that just came out last night. Like, well, of course, it’s obvious.
A Tactful Way To Mention Current Events
This is season three, episode eight. Everyone knows when that is, and they do. But they might be watching season three, episode 810 years from now on some streaming service. So again, even though it feels like it’s linked to a specific point in time unless it is objective, like the red carpet for the Oscars 2023, and you’re very clear about 2023, not just the Oscar red carpet, you want to be very explicit about the timing. And that will help everyone have the proper context and feel connected in knowing when they should listen for something timely or when they can say, okay, right, that’s not necessarily relevant now.
It’s going to be a better experience for everyone, and it’s going to make you look like a better and more inclusive and understanding guest. The third tip I want to give you is never to speak over the host. And we’re having a conversation. I will ask a question if it’s not a very rigorous formal. You’re going to answer, but more of a conversation. It can be easy because we know when we have a regular conversation and a lot of podcasts do want that conversation feel, it can be easy to start talking over each other.
“Never speak over the host. It can be frustrating for listeners and challenging to edit afterward. Be different and try not to talk over each other during the conversation.” – Mark Hirschberg
And for two people, that’s fine, but it can be a little frustrating to listeners. And that is the one thing that we really can’t edit. You can have long periods of silence, which can be edited. You can have, oh, you know what, we forgot to add this to question number two, or what we said ten minutes ago. Can we put in one more sentence?
If You Want to Stand Out As A Podcast Guest, Don’t Rely On Editing
And with proper editing, that can be cut and moved around, and that’s okay. But you can’t take the overlapping conversation, those waveforms, and pull them out unless you have some high-end equipment and experience that most podcast hosts don’t. So, in general, we want to all be different. And this goes for hosts as well as guests. We want to be different and try not to talk over each other.
You might be thinking, oh, I have one of the podcast recording services where we have separate tracks. And for separate tracks, well, that’s okay. We can now pull them out and do one over the other or one or the other. But even then, you’re right. You have separate tracks. You still may get some overlap because your voice is coming over my speakers, and my mic might pick it up.
Software Won’t Help You, Or Your Host
And you can’t depend on the fact that my software was good enough to figure out what my voice versus yours they’re getting better at, but don’t count on it. So, in general, we don’t want to speak over someone else. Speaking, we should be quieter. Or if you notice you’re starting to overlap each other, pause because you can add it in later. Now, on a related note, if you are doing some editing, I’m going to give you two tips that I found helpful because often we do have to go back and find little clips and pull something out or, oh, I did that question wrong, can we redo it? And, of course, a host is trying to make a note saying, okay, at 13 minutes and 28 seconds, I need to do this.
And not all hosts remember that. So, if you want to stand out as a podcast guest, here are two straightforward things you can do when editing that you might need to do because you didn’t speak over each other. First, clapping, say, oh, you know what, let’s redo what I said at the last minute. Okay, we’re going to pause, I’m going to clap, and then we’ll redo it.
A Tactful Way To Get Around This
And then I’m going to give you my new answer. And I do the clap because if you look at the audio waveform, you’ll see a little pause and then these three spikes. It’s an obvious indicator, a tremendous visual, audio note about where to look and pay attention. It’s like highlighting something when adding a document, but it’s an audio-visual version. Likewise, if you’re doing more video editing, you can keep a piece of paper right by your desk and say, you know what? We need to redo what I did a minute ago.
So, I will put a visual cue so you can find it. I just held up a blue folder for about 3 seconds. But now, as you’re going through the thumbnails, as you’re looking to add the file, you’ll suddenly see this big splash of blue, and you go, oh, that’s the spot. That’s where you need to look. So it’s a little like the clackers they have when they’re doing the movies, those old clackers for those old enough to remember them. And this is what we can do.
Having Audio First In Mind Always Causes You to Stand Out As A Podcast Guest
It’s a very kind of poor man’s version of it, but it will help us be more accessible when we’re adding. So remember the three tips you should do as a guest, which also applies to hosts. First, no visuals. We want to be audio-friendly and recognize not everyone can see the visuals that we include, so always be audio first.
If you have to do a visual, ensure you’re very descriptive and avoid it. Never do slides. Second, make your content evergreen by giving the contextual, temporal context in which you describe this. So, I am recording this in the summer of 2023, and the technology might change in a few years. You probably didn’t need to know that for this particular tip, but when you’re talking about what’s happening in the world or the state of an industry or even things you have, like a book coming out, be sure to give the explicit objective time and not the relative time. And third, make sure you’re not speaking over the host, or if you’re the host, not speaking over the guest, because that’s the hardest to pull out.
We can add all sorts of things. We can cut and slice things together, but we can’t pull out the audio overlay of two people. If you remember those three things, you are on your way to having a great podcast episode.
About Mark Herschberg
Mark is the creator of Brain Bump and author of The Career Toolkit, Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You. He has been a guest on over 350 podcasts. Mark has spent his career launching and developing new ventures at startups and Fortune 500s and in academia. He helped to start the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, dubbed MIT’s “career success accelerator,” where he teaches annually. He also works with many non-profits, currently serving on the board of Plant a Million Corals.
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