So, you landed your dream podcast guest. (*Cue that victory dance and fist pump, my friend, you did it!*)
After the confetti settles, the real work begins: Making your remote podcast guest feel and sound incredible while recording their episode — even though they won’t be in the room with you.
Luckily, setting your guest up for success doesn’t have to be a monumental task. We’ve put together nine tried-and-true tips and tricks (say that five times fast!) to make sure your remote podcast guest feels comfortable and sounds amazing.
All you have to do is prepare ahead of time, check the tech and host a human conversation, and your next episode is sure to be one of your best.
1. Send instructions to your guest before the recording session.
You’ve probably heard it from someone in your life before: “Proper planning and preparation prevent poor performance.” This is true for final exams, road trips and, of course, podcasts.
Give your remote guest the tools to prepare for your conversation ahead of time. Send them an email with some of the important steps they will need to take before the recording session.
✓ Recommend they restart their computer before logging on.
This helps to clear out any background processes that could slow down their machine. It also just gives the tech a fresh start. (We all need to press that reset button now and then!)
✓ Instruct them to log onto SquadCast as their focus tab.
They should close the rest of their browser tabs and make sure that the tab with SquadCast is open, visible and ready to go.
✓ Let them know to wear wired headphones.
I know, I know — we all love our Bluetooth headphones. But they can actually cause latency issues when recording remotely, so it’s important to wire in those headphones for the best and smoothest recording.
✓ Bonus: Tell them if you’ll be recording video.
No one wants to be caught off guard on camera, so if you’ll be recording video, say so! That way, your guest will know they’ll need to look their best.
And don’t be afraid to repeat these instructions over and over again in each of your communications leading up to the recording. Answer any questions they might have, and make sure there’s no ambiguity!
2. Email your guest a reminder just before the recording.
In addition to sending instructions ahead of time, it’s also a good idea to send a reminder email just before your remote recording.
Use your personal preference to decide on timing for this reminder. Whether you send it 30 minutes, an hour or a day ahead of time, the key is to make sure your podcast guest remembers they have an appointment with you, since they’ll be recording with you remotely.
Be sure to offer a quick refresher on your tech tips, too. This last-minute reminder is a great chance to drive home those best practices once more and to make sure your guest doesn’t have any remaining questions.
3. Run a sound check!
Once your guest is set up, logged on and ready to go in the SquadCast session, it’s time for your sound check.
Are they using wired headphones (like you instructed beforehand!) and is SquadCast picking them up? Great!
If they’re using a microphone, is it plugged in and recognized by SquadCast? If you don’t check this setting, the internal microphone might pick them up instead. And if you’ve ever forgotten to check your microphone settings, you know firsthand that you really don’t want low-quality audio.
4. Test their sound quality.
Once you’ve checked your tech, record a quick test session in SquadCast. This allows you to run quality control and troubleshoot if anything sounds or looks off.
Ask your guest a softball question like what they had for breakfast, and record this micro-conversation for 30 seconds or so. Then, watch and listen to the clip and ask your guest to make any small adjustments — turning off their noisy air conditioner, moving to another room, etc. — that might make them sound even more awesome.
5. For video recordings, check on their lighting.
“Location, location, location” isn’t just a best practice for real estate. It’s a great rule of thumb for recording podcast video, too! You want to make sure your guest is in the best possible spot with the best possible lighting.
Overhead light sources or harsh backlighting aren’t the most flattering. So work with your guest to swap these for a window or other natural light sources that make them look great on-camera.
Now that you’ve finalized all of your technical and production details, you’re ready to record!
These next few tips will help you to host the best conversation possible with your guest.
6. Remind your guest that this is a conversation
Before you begin recording, reassure your guest that your goal isn’t to grill them or ask them the really tough questions.
The best podcasts are built on natural conversations and the healthy back-and-forth of two people who are excited and invested in a topic. Reminding your guest of this conversational element will probably help them relax a bit.
You can also let them know that you are able to edit out mistakes in post-production. Tell them that they can signal any desired “redos” by saying something like, “Let me try that again.” (Think of those phrases as traffic cones for your editor to know what and where to cut in post!)
7.Establish some common ground.
Any podcast guest will feel more comfortable and sound better when they connect personally with their host. Signal your interest in who they are and what they do by asking genuine questions — even before you start recording.
If something in their story resonates with you, don’t be shy to let them know! These connections build empathy and let the guest know that you’re listening to them. And speaking of listening…
8. Pay attention and listen carefully.
Think of the people in your life who you consider great listeners. How do they make you feel heard?
Do they ask clarifying questions? Maybe they repeat back what you just said, to ensure they understand? These best practices carry over to making your podcast guest feel heard, too.
You can help not only your guest but also your podcast listeners when you signal key points by saying things like, “You just said ______. Why do you think that’s so important?” You strengthen the interview when you let your curiosity guide the conversation.
9. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
Throughout your conversation, ask the kind of questions that your listeners would want answered. Even if you know a certain story or answer, your audience might not.
Ask your listeners’ burning questions. Your guest will sound amazing, plus your audience will learn something new — and that’s a recipe for your best episode yet.
Based in Dayton, Ohio, Amanda Jackson is a tech writer who moonlights as a painter, baker, and movie buff. This content was produced collaboratively with PodReacher.