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23 Jan 2014

Preparing For Your First Podcast Interview

When you are looking to promote your upcoming game, one of the best ways to do this is via a podcast. It’s a great opportunity to describe your game to a show’s audience and make people interested in not only your upcoming game, but your past games and your brand as a whole. Preparing for your first podcast interview can be daunting. A lot of indie developers have no idea how to properly prepare for an interview and deliver a compelling one that will not only make for a great show, but future customers/fans.

Now, I’m not promoting being on podcast just because I’m the host of Game Academy Radio, nor is this post aimed at any particular guests I’ve had on the show over the last few months. They’ve all been fantastic. Yet, I will say this: from guest hosting several game-centered podcasts to hosting Game Academy Radio, there have been guests that were much more prepared than others. Likewise, I have had guests that acted as if they simply didn’t want to be interviewed in the first place, bringing me to my first point:

If you don’t want to be interviewed on a podcast, don’t!caution tape image

How many times have you heard someone being interviewed that sounded as if they didn’t want to be there? You can hear the hesitation and the annoyance in their voice, right? It makes for a terrible interview, and not only does it make the job of the interviewer that much harder, but it also makes for a pretty bad show. Both parties come away not looking at their best, and that isn’t something you want.

I’ll give a brief example: when I was in college working for my college newspaper, there was a new professor of interest the paper wanted one of its reporters to interview. I volunteered, contacted the professor much to their delight, and did an interview with them. I had some great questions to ask as I did my homework, but the professor didn’t want to be interviewed. You could just tell they wanted to be anywhere but there at the moment. Questions that could have taken roughly 3-5 minutes to answer were answered in one sentence, they wouldn’t open up too much about their career, etc. It was a travesty to say the least, and while I did what I could to spruce it up nicely, looking back it was a waste of time for the both of us.

Don’t be that person. If you don’t want to interview, it’s okay to decline. Or, if the podcast also runs a print edition like we do here at Game Academy, conduct a text-only interview instead. Or don’t do any interview at all – there are other ways you can market your brand, after all.

Getting on with the main point, here is what you need to know to prepare for your interview.

What is the main purpose of the interview? 

This is the big one. You were chosen to be interviewed for a reason after all, and the reason should be pretty clear to you once the interviewer asks you for an interview. For example, when I ask potential guests if they would be interested in the interview, I let them know the reason I’m asking them to be interviewed is due to a game they are about to release, their career, their game seeking crowdfunding, etc. This lets them know the general purpose of what the interview will be about, which allows my guests to have an idea as to what types of questions they can prepare for.

If the interviewer doesn’t tell you what the main purpose of the interview is (they should) or if you want some more information regarding what the interview will involve, ask. An interviewer worth your time will be more than happy to answer any questions about the nature of the interview, giving you ample time to prepare.

And prepare, you should…

brainstorming imageThat’s how Yoda would put it anyway. Once you have an idea regarding what the interview will be about, do your part to gather your thoughts and plan ahead for how you are going to answer certain topics. How much you should plan depends on how comfortable you are speaking about your career. There are many individuals in the industry that are very comfortable with discussing their career, their games, etc. because they have done a lot of public speaking.

But for those that are making their first game or have done very little public speaking? They may need to prepare a lot. Again, it depends on how comfortable you are discussing your career. Write a bunch of notes down if you must, practice in a mirror if it makes you feel better, but do have an idea as to what types of answers you are going to provide. Thus, this will prepare you regardless if the interview is live or pre-recorded.

This lends itself to quality quotes.

A lot of interviewers want the individual being interviewed to provide some solid quotes. By being prepared and knowing how you are going to answer some questions (or a variation of the questions you think you will be asked), you can give the interviewer some good quotes they can use. Perhaps these quotes can be used in soundbytes or in an article. Typically, I don’t use quotes from guests too often unless they really stick with me, and then I may use a quote or two in my Game Academy articles.

Most interviewers will want a good quote though. Be prepared: provide them with that compelling quote that will act as a ‘stamp of quality. They’ll be thankful you did.

Above all, act like you know what you’re talking about!

During my nearly 20 interviews I’ve done on Game Academy Radio, I’ve been lucky to have spoken with indie developers that act like they know what they’re talking about – even if they are at the beginning stages of working on their first game. Take my interview with Jeffery Fox as an example. This is a guy that had just started developing his first game all by himself – really, he was in the beginning stages of development. He had never done an interview before, and never really talked about game development to anyone. If there was a definition of being ‘green’ or ‘the new guy’ in indie game development, Fox was the definition.

But when he spoke to me in the interview? The guy acted as if he knew exactly what he was talking about in terms of game development. I assume he actually knew what he was talking about, but he spoke to me with such conviction and passion that if he hadn’t of told me that he was working on his first game, I would have truly believed that he had been in the industry for a long time.

And that’s what you have to do. You have to speak in such a manner that the interviewer and the audience as a whole is going to truly believe that you know what you are doing. By doing so, you’re going to have the audience impressed with what you are saying and talking about, and the interview is going to go smoothly.

Below are a few miscellaneous tips for conducting that perfect interview:tips image

  • Write an outline if you feel it would be beneficial
    • Write accomplishments, titles, games, etc. – any information you think will come up in the interview.
  • Use examples when explaining a point.
    • This will help you to get your point across in an insightful manner.
  • Don’t be too long-winded, don’t provide too short of answers.
    • Your answers to questions shouldn’t go longer than 3-5 minutes.
  • Smile when you speak to show you are happy to be interviewed. People can tell your mood even if they cannot see you.
  • Above all, have fun. Interviews can be fun. 

Bottom line: don’t sweat the interview. Especially since it’s covering game development, the interviewer is definitely interested in the same topic (and if they aren’t, they seriously need to find a new gig). Personally, I love interviewing guests on Game Academy Radio because I’m passionate about gaming, as are my guests (and if they aren’t, again, they need to find a new gig). Be polite, be talkative, and don’t be afraid to get off topic from time to time and shoot the breeze. Have fun with it, and after the interview is over, believe me: you’ll be glad you did the interview.

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