TIPS AND TRICKS FOR PODCAST GUESTS!
We are excited to have you on the podcast! However, there is more preparation than most people realize that goes into recording an episode of our show. Our goal with all of our guests is to create a safe space for open conversation where you are comfortable, you sound great, and your message can be heard. Therefore, we have put together a little guide for potential podcast guests.
PREPARING YOUR TOPIC
Since this show is about transparent and authentic conversations about everything Agile, we do not script any of our episodes. However, we do pick a theme, message, bullet points, and/or outcome for each episode. This helps us to facilitate the episode because we have sight of the horizon, and it helps to ensure our listeners receive a packaged and cohesive message every episode. It’s alright to wander off-topic, in fact, we encourage it! However, we will use the topic to periodically pull everyone back on track.
While sometimes we have a guest in mind for a particular topic, oftentimes we just want to hear what is passionate to you right now in your life. Therefore, we ask that you bring a topic to us that you would like to discuss on the episode. It doesn’t have to be something we’re experts in, or even familiar with, blow our minds! There are some things to consider though:
- Is there enough content to discuss this topic for 45-60 minutes?
- Is the topic narrow enough? For example, “Agile Transformations” is very nebulous and could go in a million directions.
- Who is the audience for this conversation? What are their roles, titles, and agile knowledge? What are they interested in hearing?
- Are there points you want to make, or counterpoints that should be made?
- Do you have permission to talk about this topic? Is it under an NDA or non-compete?
- Does the message have positive intent at its core? We love to be disruptors, and air controversial topics, so long as it comes from a place of growth and enablement.
Are you struggling to come up with a topic?
- First of all, it should be agile adjacent since we are The Agile For Agilists Podcast.
- What is something you are deeply passionate about right now?
- What’s a new experiment or fresh-cut failure in your life?
- What about Agile or the industry inspires or infuriates you?
- What is something that people just don’t seem to understand?
- Do you have some unique way of resolving a common challenge?
Spend some time thinking about what Agile topics are of interest to you and how you want to express your Agile story. Once you have that, we will gladly work through some details and preparation with you. This is best done in our Agile For Agilists Slack community, which can be joined by request.
This podcast is our side-hustle. This means that we have day jobs to schedule around. While we have made exceptions for guests as needed, we generally record every Thursday at 5 PM EST/EDT.
- Once you have your topic down, we will schedule a date and time that works for everyone.
- A Google Calendar invite will be sent to your email of choice with a link to Riverside, our recording tool.
- Our episodes are around an hour long and generally take 90 minutes to record.
- While we are just as excited to share your episode with the world, editing takes time, and we may have other episodes lined up for release. You will be tagged on LinkedIn when we release the episode.
- If you are trying to promote something by a certain date, we can try to adjust the schedule to accommodate.
If you’re like most of our guests, then you’re planning on recording in front of your computer like you would for any video call. That likely makes the most sense, but while the audio in your room on a daily basis is great for standups and retros, we have a few tips that will help you to sound your best.
- Record episodes in the smallest and quietest room possible to reduce outside noise and echoes.
- Shut your windows and doors, turn off any machines or devices that make a constant noise.
- Let your kids and spouse know that you’ll be recording and to limit their movement in nearby rooms.
- Put your pets somewhere they won’t disturb you for a couple hours.
- Set your phone to silent, close any messaging apps or put them on Do-Not-Disturb.
- Fill your recording environment with soft items (couches, pillows, carpet, etc.) that absorb sound to muffle any errant noises.
- Wear headphones or earbuds to prevent any feedback from your speakers (we use the Sony MDR-7506).
- Recording can be more intensive on your laptop or computer than a typical conference call, resulting in increased fan speeds. Sometimes this can’t be helped, but think ahead if there are things you can do to set up your laptop for better airflow or lower the temperature.
On top of having a quiet environment, we do ask that you have an external microphone. We can clean up some background noise and echo, but we can’t make a microphone sound higher quality than it is. Earpods/iPods, laptop microphones, and webcams generally sound poorly while recording. People are more tolerant of audio quality in interactive calls, but less so when listening to a recording, especially very closely with headphones or earpods.
Furthermore, the tool we use does not have any of the built in features that cleans up or boosts your microphone that video conferencing software has adopted over recent years. This means that just because you sound good in Microsoft Teams, it doesn’t mean you will sound good when recording in Riverside.
If you need to purchase a dedicated microphone then thankfully there are a lot of options that won’t break the bank and are an easy “plug-and-play” setup using a USB connection. Drew currently uses a Shure MV7 and Brad uses a Samson Q2U. Here are some of our recommendations (note: these are not paid endorsements):
Another consideration is mic placement:
- Put it in a place where you won’t bump it or the table it’s on.
- Also, place it where you will be comfortable talking into it for an extended period of time.
- Generally, you want to be a hand’s length away from your mic for the best quality.
- Angle the microphone above, under, or to the side of your mouth to reduce the chance of accidentally blowing into the mic while you talk.
- All of the microphones listed above have what is called a cardioid pattern, which means they pick up audio in a cone shape. Therefore, make sure you angle the front of the microphone towards your mouth.
We are available to answer questions or nerd-out about podstacks.
GETTING INTO THE VIBE
We want you to have a good time and present your best self. Because of this, we encourage you to prepare yourself before recording. Some ways you can prep are:
- Take a break from your computer and work for a few minutes before joining the studio.
- Mentally think about the topic you want to talk about and any key points you want to make.
- Think about how you want to introduce yourself.
- Also consider how you want to present yourself to the world. Think boy band (or girl) archetypes: Are you the bad boy, the girl next door, the jokester?
- Warm up your mouth and vocal cords by singing a song or doing vocal warmups (if you know them). We recommend any vocally rich music from Led Zeppelin to Beyoncé.
- Watch your favorite comedy bit or scene on YouTube to elevate your mood.
Q&A, FAST FACTS, AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
We are always learning and trying to get better at this podcast thing. Here are some answers and observations from previous guests:
- You’re the VIP, we want to hear from you, so please speak up. Feel free to interject and we will always give you the first turn to answer a question that is not directed to anyone.
- You can have a drink, in fact, we encourage you to fill your water bottle before we start.
- We do not have to agree on everything, and polite disagreement is arguably better for listeners.
- This is a discussion, so be mindful of monologues and create space for questions and responses.
- Cursing is allowed, although we try to limit it.
- It’s OK to say “I don’t know” or ask us to repeat.
- While we try to keep a raw, conversational, and authentic program, our episodes are edited. If you fumble over your words or slip up and share something you shouldn’t have, just say so, and we’ll cut it.
- Although you are not obligated, we sure would appreciate it if you shared your episode on social media to help promote it, as there is no better promotion than word of mouth.
- We use a tool called Riverside, which is like Zoom in your browser. There is a video component that helps us to effectively communicate with each other, and while we don’t currently use the video, we may in the future.
- We highly encourage you to listen to an episode or two (or all of them) to get a better understanding of what you are signing up for.
THE LESS FUN, LEGAL STUFF
Look, we’re all friends here, and while we are confident that everything will end amicably, there are some legal things we have to address. Unless agreed otherwise (in writing), by participating on The Agile For Agilists Podcast (“the podcast”), you (“the guest”) agree to the following:
- You are providing us permission to release your audio and to edit the content as we see fit. The podcast, in good faith, agrees to represent the guest as they intended at the time of recording.
- We have permission to use your image, voice, and intellectual property in our content without seeking additional approval before publishing.
- We can use this content at any point in the future and on any medium, not just the podcast (for example, we may upload audiograms to promote the show, use a clip for a montage, etc.), but not as an endorsement of any product or service without your permission.
- We are not obligated to schedule you on the podcast or to release your recording within a certain timeframe, episode order, or at all. Likewise, once published your recording may be taken down for any reason.
- As the guest, you agree that you shall not receive any compensation for your appearances or participation in the program.
- The guest takes full ownership for any information or opinions shared on our program, and the podcast is not beholden to any legally binding contracts the guest has signed, permitted, or otherwise agreed to.
- We, the podcast, are released and discharged of any and all liability arising out of or in connection with the making, producing, reproducing, processing, exhibiting, distributing, publishing, marketing, transmitting by any means, or otherwise using this recording.
WE APPRECIATE YOUR INTEREST IN OUR PODCAST MORE THAN WORDS COULD EVER SAY!
BE OUR GUEST!
Do you want to be a guest on the Agile for Agilists podcast? Do you have a great topic for discussion? If so, then please leave us a quick two minute pitch via Memo.FM. Make sure to clearly state your name and email!
Is voice not your thing? Then why are you asking to be on a podcast? Just kidding, the form below is available for working through your pitch via text format.
We are interested in discussing any topic related to Agile, agility, Lean, Scrum, product development, DevOps, leadership, and more. Come and school us!