Podcasting is an intimate medium. Listeners develop relationships with hosts after consistently tuning into their show. Playing new episodes becomes part of the weekly schedule. This is a parasocial relationship where there is a one-sided interaction with an influencer on a continuous basis. Over time podcasters gain a listener’s trust, which is why if you are a guest on their show, you already have established credibility with listeners before you even start talking.
There are podcasts for just about every topic, interest, and community. Many podcasts have a niche, which is what makes for perfect target marketing. If you are seeking to reach a specific group of people, guesting on a podcast with that audience is ideal. This allows you to reach people where they are.
Podcasts also have a long shelf life. Unless the episode focuses on news, it’s evergreen content which means it is timeless and will be relevant in the future. Podcasts are available indefinitely, unlike social media and other forms of media. Your episode can be streamed years into the future (unless the podcaster removes their feed from podcast players; however, this is not common). I’ve personally been podcasting since 2011 and continue to have people downloading episodes from a decade ago.
Tips for Guests
Host Research - Do your research on the background of the podcast host. Gain an understanding of the education and experience the host has with regard the subject matter you are discussing. Both factors will play a role on how you relate to the interviewer. For example, if you are sharing your expertise of cancer genetics with their audience, it’s important to know if the host has a degree in genetics or possibly a personal/familial diagnosis of cancer.
Audience - Ask the host (or podcast scheduler) about their audience demographics. During the interview you want to be sure you are speaking at an appropriate level for your audience. If the listeners are healthcare providers, it does not make sense to explain what DNA is; however, if the audience is the general population, then it may be helpful to provide the listener with the basics. Aim for a fourth-grade level when speaking to the general population so they can easily follow along regardless of their level of education.
Speak Slowly - People tend to speak faster when they are nervous or excited. You will probably be both when being interviewed. As mentioned in the tip above, depending on the audience these might be new terms which is why it’s even more important to slow down your speech.
Timing - Be aware of the length of the podcast episode. Some podcasts might only be 15 minutes while others could be hours. This depends on the format of the show. By knowing your time frame, you can take the appropriate amount of time to answer questions and keep in mind what you plan to cover in subsequent responses.
5 Points - Ellen Matloff, CEO of My Gene Counsel and one of my mentors, imparted this interview advice. Have five points/anecdotes in your mind going into the interview. As the conversation progresses you can tick them off in your head. Be mindful not to share patient information where someone could be identified. For example, when I am a guest on a podcast sharing about genetic counseling, I typically have these points:
1) what genetic counselors do
2) reasons to see a genetic counselor
3) screening versus testing (example: non-invasive prenatal screening vs amniocentesis)
4) define carrier screening and its value before conceiving (e.g., condition sickle cell)
5) red flags for inherited forms of cancer (e.g., Angelina Jolie)
Listen to the Podcast - Get a feel for the show by listening to at least one episode that features an interview. It’s helpful to understand the flow and level of formality. During your interview, it’s a great bonus if you can refer to a previous episode of the show.
Yes Outlines, No Scripts - It is tempting to write a script for yourself, especially if you have been given interview questions ahead of time. Please restrain the urge. It will prevent you from being natural and genuine during the show. It can be helpful to have a list of topics you and the host plan on discussing. These could be in the form of an interview question bank.