Be a good podcast guest
There’s nothing I hate more than listening to a webcartoonist on a podcast — with a few notable exceptions. And the reasons usually boil down to this: We don’t know how to speak. We know how to talk, of course, but speaking is different. When you speak, you need to be interesting. That means allowing more dramatic inflection in your voice. It means projecting a certain degree of confidence. And it means knowing what you’re going to say before you say it! That takes a little preparation. Here are some tips…
Being a good guest can do wonders to promote your comic, but being a Good Guest is crucial. You know darned well that you hate listening to some dud drone on about his comic, so if you want to make the most out of this appearance, you’d better be prepared to perform a little.
That doesn’t necessarily mean reaching for the rubber chicken and bringing the wacky. (In fact, forced wacky is just as off-putting as boring droning.) But it does mean you should brush up on your public speaking.
Prepare for the usual questions
Unfortunately, we all get asked the same questions, It’s the rare podcast interviewer, indeed, with the chops to ask truly insightful questions. But that weakness is our advantage. It makes it really easy to prepare. Here’s what you’re very likely to be asked:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- What is the Webcomic/comic about?
- How people can find you online?
- Do you have merchandise for sale?
- Where do you get your ideas?
- Who is your inspiration?
- How did you get started?
By the way, “where do you get your ideas” is a legitimate question about the creative process. Don’t be that d-bag who dashes off a snide answer that addressed the question literally and then walks away from what is otherwise a challenging and meaningful question. Answer it. That question says a lot about who you are as a creator. Don’t dodge it! Embrace it!
And the best way to answer these questions is to have some responses planned. Write down ten of the most probable questions and write out answers to them. Need help getting to ten? Listen to or read any interview with a cartoonist. You’ll hear the same questions over and over. Be sure to include one or two that might apply specifically to your comic or your situation as a webcartoonist.
This is a crucial step because a huge portion of being a Good Guest isn’t in the answers themselves; it’s in the delivery of those answers. And you can’t work on the delivery if you’re busy trying to form an answer on the spot.
I can also suggest to be energetic, say as much as you want, promote your webcomic whenever it’s appropriate (but never more), and be polite.
Practice Your Delivery
Now that you have prepared a few responses for the most probable questions, practice delivering them out loud. Do this a few times alone until you can do it without looking at your notes. Once you have them fully memorized, practice in front of a friend. But have the friend listen for these things:
Do You Repeated the Same Vocal Patterns?
Are you like that Band Camp girl in American Pie? Do you end every sentence as if it were a question? Do you know how annoying that is?
Work on making your delivery so that your vocal patterns rise and fall to match the spirit of the content you’re delivering. Practice ennunciating and emphasizing important words.
Think of it like singing. You can’t repeat the same melody over and over again. You need to vary your vocal delivery.
Do You Have Verbal Tics?
Of course you do. Like, we all do. But, like, if you let yours, like, run rampant… especially, like, in a situation where you might be, like, a little nervous, then, like, your message is bound to be somewhat, like, obscurred.
There’s only one way to get around that one and that’s to know what your personal tic sounds like so you recognize it in the moment. Only then will you be able to supress them when you’re in an interview.
Once again, practice in front of a friend and have him or her pay particular attention to these tics. You might even request that they count them or make a game-show buzzer sound when you say them. Eradicate the tics, and I guarantee you’ll be considered an awesome podcast guest.
Do you emote?
Being a good podcast guest is a little bit like performing. Only in this case, you’re acting the role of you. And like any good actor, you have to exaggerate your character just a little to make sure that it comes across clearly. That means allowing yourself to be exuberant when you’re talking about something that’s happy. And you have to let your voice drop and slow down a beat when you’re talking about something that’s more serious or sad. Allow your voice and the cadence of your speech to convey the parts of your message that the words alone can’t.
Expect the Unexpected
Hopefully, your interviewer is going to ask you a few questions that you hadn’t expected. Here are a few tips on delivering an answer extemporaneously:
- Don’t be afraid to pause to gather your thoughts. Heck, I’ll throw a laugh in (if it’s appropriate) just to buy a few seconds. Another suitable strategy is to simply repeat the question thoughtfully while your brain organizes an answer.
- Form a statement that makes a single point that addresses the question, and start with that. Chances are that it will lead to either a subsequent statements or a list of things that you can talk about that bolster the original statement.
- Don’t feel the need to vamp for the interviewer. Many people try to fill a subconscious need to speak for a certain munber of seconds to satisfy some sort of unspoken time requirement. If your answer is too short — or if it misses the intention of the question — it’s up to the interviewer to bring the topic around in another way. Don’t repeat the same points in an attempt to fill time.
You’ll find that if you allow your friendly personality to come through in an interview, people will want to check out your comic just to “get to know you” better. You don’t need to continually slip in your URL or references to your characters. Heck, you don’t have to talk about your comic at all — unless you’re asked a direct question about it. (Please don’t be that cartoonist who finds a way to crowbar his or her comic/storyline/characters into the answer to every question.) All you have to do is be friendly and enthusiastic. It’s a rare commodity on the Web. People will come to your site just to be exposed to it.