How To Become Media-Ready & Rock The Virtual Stage

Feb 15, 2023

Rock The Virtual Stage

There is more to rocking the mic than great interview questions and solid equipment. And your podcast is part of your brand and you want to shine in your industry as the brand authority! 

So I brought on media expert with over 30 years of broadcast experience Rich Bontrager to the show. 

He shares 5 keys to rock the stage, how to make the most of your digital real estate, coaching tips to have better camera presence and how to be the best host – Yup I took a TON of notes and learned so much on this one – And I even sing in it lol.

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Defining Media Coaching

  • Rich, who has been in the broadcasting space for 30 years (working radio, television, podcasting, and content streaming), defines media coaching as teaching you broadcast quality standards and best practices, so that you can leverage media.
  • Media is the new currency you can use to elevate you and your brand.
  • Showing up is key! And it should be a combination of professionalism but also your personal side.
  • You can’t be a stiff robot nor someone who blabs forever about something. There’s a way to be and to come across as concise, while being fun, engaging, and very personal.
  • Rich focuses on coaching the person and works on their skills first. The gear comes later.


It’s Not ‘Just Another Zoom Call’!

  • When using video, don’t think of it as ‘just a Zoom or Google Meet call’. Always approach it as TV.
  • By using a platform like Restream, Rich is able to build his own media network and to go live on multiple platforms at the same time – all from a single dashboard.
  • As far as gear is concerned, you can start without breaking the bank. You can use your smartphone, tablet or computer, get a plug-in microphone and some simple lights.
  • During the pandemic, people went crazy and bought all kinds of gear, all while they were still trying to figure out how to use Zoom, how to mute themselves, how to let someone in the Zoom room, etc. They were not ready.
  • Rich’s focus is on removing all of that and focus on making you the center, because you are the biggest element of making a great streaming TV show and podcast.
  • Rich said it best: ‘If you aren’t good to go, it doesn’t matter what gear you buy.’ Focus on you and your skills first!


Brand Identity: YOU Are the Brand

  • Your podcast, your book, your Twitter account…they are NOT your brand, YOU are.
  • For brand identity to be working in your favor, you need to have clarity on who you are, what’s your main focus to speak on, and the value you’re going to add to people.
  • You need to figure yourself out first, then own that brand whenever you step up on stage or on camera. You’re the expert in the room.


Leveraging Podcasts for Business and Branding

  • As Rich explains, you don’t host a podcast just for sharing great information. Podcasts are actually the biggest lead magnet to get more leads for your business.
  • If you’d like to really make podcasts part of your brand, focus on interviewing guests you want to do business with.
  • Interview and elevate your guests, shine on them. Then, send them a Thank You note and let them know that you’d like to partner up and do business with them.


How to Be Media-Ready as a Podcast Host

  • People think that Rich makes it look so easy but they forget that he has 30 years of experience with being on camera – be it for sports, interviews, talk shows or pretty much anything else.

“The first step is getting comfortable knowing that the camera and microphone are there… and not care about them.”

  • Set the vibe of the show and the interview, make them fun and interactive!
  • The email(s) you send before the interview, the prep questions, and the pre-interview chat when you’re off the record (before the interview starts) are all elements that will help the guest get ready for having a great experience when the interview starts.
  • What you want to do as a host is make your guests shine. It’s as simple as that.


Dos for Media-Ready Podcast Hosts

  • Be prepared: learn how to pronounce the guest’s name, do your research on them and their zones of genius. 
  • If it makes sense for your style, ask what questions your guest wouldn’t like to be asked.
  • Be an active listener. Talk less and really pay attention to what your guests say and unpack concepts and points that trigger your curiosity.
  • Learn how to start and wrap the show. Your intro and outro are very important. Start and end with high energy so that people want to watch/listen and they want to come back for more content.
  • If you’re doing a video show, think about your “billboard”. Rich, for instance, has about a dozen different virtual backgrounds to choose from to automatically communicate something.
  • Different backgrounds create different images. A couple of examples: what comes to mind if you see Rich using a virtual background with TV monitors? And one with a laid-back office? 
  • Organize your “set” wisely and think of how it can be leveraged for your brand. 
  • Remember: ‘70% of what we learn is non-verbal.’
  • As Rich put it: ‘You, as the host, need to be the engagement-creator for the entire show.’

Rich Bontrager 1

How to Look Good on Camera

  • As soon as you see your head “chopped off”, it means that you’re too close to the camera. Rich typically has three fingers to the top of his shot.
  • Use your hands to communicate.
  • Have fun! If you’re having a good time, it will come across and will draw the audience in even more.
  • Rich prefers to stand up instead of sitting because it makes everything come and feel more natural.
  • When Rich asks his coaching clients to stand up, each and everyone of them asks him ‘I feel way more engaged now! What has changed?’ That happens because their brain goes back to performance, it goes back to them standing up on stage as speakers.
  • Be an active and engaged listener. If a guest is sharing some valuable tips, nod your head and give them physical signs of encouragement.
  • Have a prop! Have you ever noticed how, at late night talk shows, everyone has a mug? Get one with your branding on it and have it somewhere “on set”.


Communicating Effectively in Podcasting

  • You want the interview to be like a tennis match: you ask a question, the guest answers. The conversation goes back and forward.
  • If, as a podcast guest, you give a short answer, you’re giving the host an opening for a follow-up question on that matter.
  • Avoid asking guests two questions at the time – it will confuse them because they won’t know which one to answer first.
  • If a guest shares a dynamite tip that you’d like to unpack further, you’ll need to decide whether you want to keep your “roadmap” for that episode or go back to the tip and discuss it further, even if it “sidetracks” what you had originally planned.
  • ‘Always know your closing.’ Know how you’re going to close your show. Rich always follows the same structure for closing his show.
  • Answer questions in soundbites. 30, 60 or 90 seconds, take inspiration from politicians and sportscasters, for example, they all do it well.


The 5 Keys to Rock the Stage

  • The first one is energy. You are the energy in every single interview you do.
  • Rich gets pumped by playing air guitar to Kansas’ Carry on Wayward Son before any major interview or keynote speaking gig. How do you get fired up?
  • The second key is engagement – you need to bring it and make it feel as if you and the other person are in the same room, in the same space, and are having a great time.
  • Thirdly, there’s space. Make the most of your physical and digital real estate.
  • Then, there’s entertainment, meaning that your content needs to be fun and entertaining.
  • And the fifth key to rock the stage is education. Content creators often focus on educating first… the problem, however, is that if you don’t do the other four keys first, the audience isn’t going to be warmed up and ready for the educational component.




Rich “Trigger” Bontrager is the creator and host of How To Rock the Stage Show, airing live each Wednesday night. Rich hosts the National Speakers Association (NSA) podcaster, author forums, and the new NSA LIVE show Behind the Stage. Entrepreneurs, executives, and speakers hire Rich to unleash their brand authority by learning media-savvy skills that help them shine on camera and stage.

Rich has worked with top speakers, leaders, and authors like Denis Waitley, Sandra Dee Robinson, Chris Westfall, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Deanna Singh, and others!

Rich’s passion comes from his 30 years as a professional broadcaster, keynote speaker, and Pastor. Rich provides group and 1-on-1 transformational coaching with practical tools, evaluations, and action steps that radically transform your confidence, clarity, and communication skills.


Resources mentioned: 

Get Rich’s checklist with the 5 keys to rock the stage by sending him an email →
Rock the Stage Show
Rich’s coaching packages
Instagram Reels
Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas


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