We’re in the age of collaboration with social media making it even easier to connect with like minded people across the globe. People are linking up in Facebook groups and finding different ways to share their knowledge. Podcast and live video interviews are growing in popularity and sometimes it seems like everyone and his dog have their own podcast or web series. But if you’re not that confident with tech, the idea of guesting on someone’s podcast, or being interviewed remotely, can be a very daunting experience.

At Leila Williams Virtual Assistant, we help our clients plan their podcast/web series/interviews and we want to provide them with an easy cheat sheet that they could share with their guests, so that the guests would know what’s expected of them and also so that our clients can feel more confident that everything is going to go smoothly.

Tip #1 – Have a strong internet connection
Streaming video and audio uses a lot of your bandwidth, so you need to make sure you have a strong internet connection. If you are able to actually plug your computer into your internet, that should work better than Wifi, but if Wifi is the only option, make sure you have a strong and reliable signal. Close any other tabs on your browser to increase bandwidth for better quality sound and video. Ask others in the office/household to keep their internet use to a minimum while you are involved in the recording, as anyone streaming video/music/gaming content on the same Wifi can affect the quality of your recording.

Tip #2 – Avoid distractions
Find a quiet place to record. Close windows if there is street noise. Switch your phone to silent, make sure all notifications on your laptop are off and tell your colleagues/family/pets that you’re not to be disturbed for the duration of recording. Close the door and put an ON AIR sign on it if you need to.

Tip #3 – Spend some time testing
How are you being recording? If you need to download any software, like Zoom, do that well in advance of recording and test it out. If you are joining a Live on Facebook, ask someone to test it with you, so you can be sure you know what you’re doing when it’s interview time. Being comfortable with the tech you are using will remove a lot of anxiety and allow you to focus on the most important part, what you are actually saying. Get in touch with your host to check if they don’t let you know what kind of software you’ll be using in advance. And remember, if you are struggling to get to grips with anything, let your host know so they can work with you to resolve any issues.

Tip #4 – Be prepared, don’t try to wing it.
Ask your host for a list of questions if you are being interviewed so that you can prepare some answers for them. You don’t have to have the answers memorised or anything, but spending some time to go over what you want to share will make you feel more confident and result in a better experience for your audience. If you’re presenting and you want to share slides, check with your host if that’s possible. When it comes to recording day, be online and ready 10 mins early. Don’t stress out your host by showing up just as you’re about to go live. By giving yourselves 10-15 mins before you start, you have the chance to iron out any issues, check any questions and just get the team vibe going so that you can all create an enjoyable recording for you as a participant, and also for your audience.

Tip #5 – Speak clearly
People can forgive poor video quality, but poor sound quality will have people switching off straight away. Avoid using the built in mic on your laptop or phone and if you have a stand alone mic, use it. Alternatively, you can use the mic and earphones that you use with your phone, just make sure you don’t knock the mic around and create extra sounds effects with your clothes or hair.

Also, test your microphone. If you are using a computer, you’ll be able to see your microphone levels if you look in your Sound settings and make sure that when you speak into the microphone, the volume isn’t reaching the top bar, or turning red.

Tip #6 – Let them see your face
If your host is recording video, positioning yourself correctly will make things so much easier for them. Make sure your camera is at eye level (or just above) and center yourself in the middle of the screen

The audience would ideally see your whole face, so don’t cut off the top of your head or sit above the camera so everyone can see up your nose.

Are you well lit? Don’t sit with your back to the window if it’s daylight, you’ll just look like a shadow. Instead, face the window and place your camera in front of you. If it’s night, switch on a lamp and place it above and behind the camera, and check that your face can be clearly seen. As a general rule, you need light in front of you, and not behind you, and you should only have light behind you if there is lots of light in front of you.

Tip #7 – Don’t get dry mouth
It happens to the best of us, even the most naturally chatty. We get a bit nervous and have to talk and all of a sudden, mouth goes dry and it’s an effort to get the words out. Have a nice big glass of water at the side so you can take sips whenever you need to. (no giant gulps though, think of your mic!) Remember to breathe and take your time. You don’t need to race through your presentation just to get it over with. Think about the audience and how they would like to hear you deliver your message.

Tip #8 – Remember it’s a conversation

Give your host a chance to talk too. Some interviewees perform monologues and don’t really allow the host to ask any questions or provide comments. If you’re being interviewed, make sure your answers don’t go on forever and take a breath to give the host a chance to interject every 2-3 minutes.

And remember it’s not just you and the host, people are there listening and watching too, so address them directly too. If you’ve live on social media, encourage them to share their thoughts. Unlike traditional speeches /interviews, audience members can comment/ask questions at any point during the live and it’s important that they feel comfortable doing so, even if you aren’t going to answer any questions until the end, so ask them to share but also manage their expectations.

Tip #9 – Help your host with promotion
Let your followers know about your upcoming appearance/interview. Get in touch with the host and ask them for social media images to help you promote the recording. They will love you for this!

Tip #10 – Be interesting
This isn’t a captive audience in a room worried about making a scene if they leave early, people can stop watching/listening whenever they want, so make it worth their while to stay. Share things that you’d like to hear, and give them something unique to you instead of the same old thing that they could hear from anyone.

And it will get easier! The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be showing up and sharing with different audiences. And whatever happens, it’s a learning experience, so even if you think the recording was a disaster, what can you take from the experience and apply to future appearances? 

Let me know if you put any of these tips in to practice and feel free to share links to podcasts or videos that you’ve guested on, I’d love to see what you’ve been up to and other readers might find it helpful too. 

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