You’ve done it! You’ve landed the interview with the podcast of your dreams! You’re going to get to spend twenty whole minutes talking about your new book to an audience that could not possibly be more perfect for it! Oh, and you’re also standing there with a look of sheer terror, like a deer in headlights, wondering what you just got yourself into. After all, you are going to be talking for twenty whole minutes… to an audience who could not be more perfect for your book. And, of course, the interviewer just mentioned that she doesn’t provide interview questions in advance— she prefers her conversations to be spontaneous and organic. What are you going to say during all of that time??? It’s a little intimidating, isn’t it?
Expertly navigating your way through the unscripted podcast interview doesn’t have to be a panic-inducing commitment. Podcasts are increasing in popularity, as consumers seek more and more on-demand methods of entertainment. They’re a fantastic resource for authors with a great story to tell, because podcast listeners are looking for stories. While every podcast is different and unique, most follow a very unscripted format, encouraging casual and organic conversation. While the thought of having a great casual conversation with someone you’ve probably never met in person can seem a little daunting, it can actually be a fun and fruitful experience. But, in case you’re feeling a bit nervous about the whole thing, here are six simple tips to help you get through the interview sounding like a star!
- Your host read your book — and so should you! Wait. What? You’re probably thinking, “I wrote the book, no one knows it better than me!” While that’s true, it’s helpful to go back and read through your book from the perspective of the audience you’ll be reaching with your interview. You’ll be able to pull out some great talking points that best fit the interests of this audience to cover during your conversation. Your content will also be fresh in your mind when you have your conversation.
- Do your research! Even if this is your very favorite podcast and you are an avid fan who never misses an episode, it’s helpful to have a little background on the show and your host. Chances are, your host has researched you in advance of the interview. They scoped out your website and social media, they read your bio, they’ve done their homework in getting to know you. You can do the same. View the show’s website and check out their social media to see what has been getting the most attention from their followers. If your host blogs or writes for outlets online, read some of their recent articles. You might even find an interesting connection between their work or their fan’s latest interests and your book that you can share in conversation. Your host will appreciate your familiarity with their show and audience.
- Practice, practice, practice! By now, most of your friends and family have read your book. Sit down with some loved ones, individually, and ask them to talk to you about the aspects of your book that most interested them. Having a few casual conversations about your book, allowing your conversation partner to lead the chat, will help give you some chances to practice holding a full conversation about your work. No need to do this over and over and over again. Just one or two practice conversations will help to relax you and keep you feeling at ease when the interview comes.
- Set the mood. You’re likely going to do your interview by phone or by Skype, rather than in person. Plan ahead and find a comfortable, quiet spot to have your call. Be sure you have a solid connection, if you’re using a cell or Skype. You’ll be less stressed if you don’t have to worry about cutting out or dropping the call. Plan to do the interview in a favorite cozy spot where you typically like to have a long casual phone calls with friends. This will help you feel relaxed. Be sure the space is quiet and private. And make sure your chair is comfy! Fidgeting and movement can cause rustling on the line during your interview. If you feel comfortable and relaxed in your setting, you’ll be at your best during the interview.
- Do some vocal calisthenics! If you’re on the West Coast and your interviewer is on the East Coast, with a 9 AM Eastern Time interview planned, you’re going to need to wake up early and be ready! Even if your interview takes place at a comfortable hour, be sure to ready your voice. Have a little coffee or tea to warm up your vocal cords. Sing some favorite melodies or hum a tune that will clear the frogs from your throat. Don’t strain your voice with a full-on vocal work out, just wake it up a bit to be ready.
- Don’t be so stiff! You’re not testifying at a Congressional hearing, so there’s no need to be overly formal and business-y (unless this particular podcast calls for it). Imagine yourself sitting around a table at a dinner party with good friends and friendly new faces, enjoying witty and delightful conversation. Your conversational tone should be familiar and friendly. Remember, listeners are tuning in to get to know you better, so let them feel like they’re new friends with your warm and welcoming conversation.
A podcast interview can be very beneficial for the publicity of your new book. Your host will be experienced with first time interviewees, so they will do their part to help you feel relaxed and at ease during the conversation. Following the tips above will help you feel more prepared and ready to handle that very first interview so that hopefully you’ll get to do many more. Oh, and twenty whole minutes goes by a lot faster than you think! Good luck!
LIANE WORTHINGTON is the Director of Publicity & Marketing at BookSparks PR. She works with traditionally published and indie authors looking to reach the consumer market. Visit BookSparks at www.gobooksparks.com.