Lessons learned from my first podcast appearance

A few days ago I was invited to be a guest on the “Basic Block” podcast - probably the most popular crypto podcast in Russia. In spite of me writing a note on what I’m going to say & key points, which you can read here, I sucked at it. At least that’s how I felt after doing it. Fortunately, Basic block radio is one of the few podcasts, where authors take on the hard job of editing an episode. Thanks guys! So what you end up listening is the edited (often abridged) version, not the original conversation.

You can listen to the episode here.

Talking in public is not new to me, but giving a speech is different from a podcast. In the former case, questions are usually asked in the end of the presentation if there’s time. Plus you can always say you’ll answer them in private. Here you have a dialog and expected to answer within a second no matter how difficult the question is. You often don’t have time to think.

I thought I’d share some lessons learned.

1) Have a coherent self story

Whenever it is an interview or a podcast, the first request is usually to introduce yourself, unless you’re super famous.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Mike Tyson

I started by telling about my previous company. Fun-box was a great place to work. But after being there for two years (forgot to say about Erlang and all the cool tech!), I was ready to move on. Then I told about my journey to China. Not really sure I should have mentioned it. I closed with the story of discovering Tendermint, missing a lot of details (like who wrote the post - Tony Arcieri, etc.) on the way.

The result: satisfactorily for a story made on the spot, but could’ve been better.

Next time I’ll be sure to have one and practice telling it at least 10 times.

2) Do not mix high & low-level details

We can draw an analogy with breadth-first vs depth-first search algorithms. One could either start from the high level explaining low-level details in the process. Or he could start from the high level and only move to highly technical details after the listeners have a big picture.

The latter approach makes more sense if the majority of the listeners are not familiar with the subject.

3) Prepare answers for frequent questions

(1) belongs here too. I knew the hosts are going to ask me to give them an example of how Cosmos works (Bitcoin -> Ethereum). Yet I was not fully ready to explain it properly.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Alexander Graham Bell

If the podcast is not in English, looking up translations for the popular terms will save you time and prevent you from making shameful mistakes.

It is okay to use English words sometimes. E.g. when there’s no translation or English version is always used. But using an appropriate translation is generally preferable.

Good luck!