How to be a podcast guest

Having now been on more than 20 podcasts, I thought I’d share my best tips for how to be a good podcast guest.

Follow this advice to stand the best chance of getting a podcast host’s attention and becoming a great guest for their audio or video show.

Listen to past episodes

The worst thing is when a guest tries to get on a show without doing their homework on what the show’s all about.

If you want to pitch a podcast host, it’s important to have listened to at least a few episodes to get a feel for what their podcast is like – the length, style of interviewing, mystery questions and that sort of thing.

I’ve heard of some terrible cold pitches, usually done by people’s personal assistants (because they’re far too important and busy to get in touch directly ?). More often than not, those are going to be rejected out of hand.

Podcast hosts love people who’ve done their research, so you’ll get extra brownie points if you can refer back to previous episodes and say something about what you’ve learned from the show.

Rate and review the podcast

If you want to get on a podcast host’s radar, a great way to show that you’re invested in the content is to leave a rating and review of the podcast.

It helps the show to get in front of more people, and podcast hosts are always grateful when people take time to do this.

Even if you’re not a prospective guest for a show, do take time to rate and review the shows you like. It might take a minute or two of your time for each show. Come on, you can do that.

Supply a bio without being asked

Podcast hosts will need to put together some promo material for sharing on social media when your episode goes live.

This often means supplying a photo and some text for them to mention in their posts and possibly during the intro to the interview.

To save myself time, I have a bio page on my website so that I can pass the relevant details on without the podcast host even having to ask for it.

Suggest questions or topics you can cover

Don’t leave it for the podcast host to try to work out what’s on your agenda or what your strong suit is.

Suggest one or two topics to cover and perhaps some questions to go along with those topics.

If you want to become known for one thing, it’s good to set the agenda so long as doing so doesn’t ride roughshod over the podcast host’s plans.

Note that some hosts prefer to have a freeform chat with no set questions. If you’ve done your homework on past episodes, this should be apparent already. Still, it doesn’t hurt to confirm this before you go ahead with agreeing to appear on the show.

If you prefer to be well prepared and in control of what you’re going to say, an unscripted chat might not be the right avenue for you. Be careful with what you say yes to!

Show evidence of what your voice sounds like

If you’ve been on other shows, start building an audio portfolio on your site so that prospective podcast hosts can do their homework on you.

If you’ve never been on a podcast, a nice touch would be to send the podcast host you’re targeting a voice message. That may give them a better impression of you and helps them imagine how you would sound on their show.

I’ve added a short audio clip of my voice on my podcast appearances and bio pages.

Install the right software

The great thing about being a guest on a podcast is that the host manages most of the techie stuff, while you usually just need to click a link to join the call.

If your interview is scheduled to take place via Skype or Zoom, it’s best to ensure you have the software installed and up to date.

If you’ve used this for other video calls before, there’s nothing extra you need to do for the podcast. The host will take care of the recording process.

Get a microphone

You shouldn’t need any fancy kit but one thing I recommend is to have a separate microphone. Even a cheap mic would be better than relying on your computer or laptop’s in-built mic.

I use the Blue Yeti USB mic, which costs ~£100 – but there are plenty of cheaper options if you don’t want to spend that much. See my Tools page for links to my kit.

If you already have headphones with a built-in mic, such as Apple AirPods, they’re a great option.

Set the scene well for video podcasts

Most podcasts are recorded as audio-only, so it shouldn’t matter if you haven’t had a shave or done your hair and makeup.

If the podcast host invites you to a Zoom or Skype call, do check whether they intend to publish the video on their website, YouTube channel or on social media.

If they do, it’s best to make a bit of an effort. This will be a permanent record of your chat and so you don’t want to look like death or have a pile of dirty washing in the background.

As per the advice for getting a microphone, I don’t recommend relying on an in-built webcam for video interviews.

I bought my Logitech C920 HD webcam, which clips onto the top of my Mac, for under £30. It’s usually more like £50 but do look out for price drops on Amazon.

Be accessible on the day of recording

Put the podcast host at ease by getting in touch on the day of your interview, to confirm that you’re around and ready for your chat. The host is relying on you to show up at the right time, so it doesn’t hurt to double-check timings, especially if you’re in different time zones.

If something comes up and you can’t make it, let them know as soon as you can.

Maximise your internet bandwidth while recording

The quality of your video or audio will be reduced if your internet connection is weak.

While you’re talking to the podcast host, make sure nothing else is using up resources on your computer. That means quitting unnecessary apps while you’re not using them and also stopping any downloads or other streaming.

Be mindful of kids streaming movies or anything else data-intensive like that happening on your home network. This could lead to choppy video or audio being transmitted to the podcast host, and that will mess up the experience for the audience.

If you start your pre-chat with the host on video but the podcast itself is going to be audio-only, it’s usually best to turn off the video while you’re recording, to ensure you maintain the best possible quality.

Be a good social sharer

If you get a guest slot on a podcast, it helps both the podcast host and you if you’re quick to spread the word about your interview on social media.

Likes, comments, retweets all help to build buzz about the episode and are good signs to other podcast hosts that perhaps you’d be a good guest for them, too.

Podcast hosts work hard to put their shows together, from finding guests and discussion topics to writing show notes and prepping promo material. Help them and they’ll be most grateful.

Thoughts from podcast hosts

Here are the thoughts of marketing and sales expert, Vicki O’Neill, who hosts the excellent Connect the Dots podcast.

“I interviewed 36 guests this year for my Connect the Dots podcast. The most engaging conversations were with guests who were familiar with the purpose, content and target audience of the show.

Being prepared by sharing nuggets of expertise that listeners can put into action right away is a great way to promote, engage listeners and expand audience reach.

It’s a win/win when the guest promotes their expertise to their audience after I’ve prepared show notes, audio and video formats.”

Alison Teare’s been producing her weekly podcast The Simply Marketing Show for over a year now. She says, “by far the best guests are those who give their knowledge freely and are prepared to have fun!

To be a good guest, make sure you know the audience and talk to them specifically solving their problems so that your content resonates with them.

Return your bio and image promptly and help the show host out by SHARING and continuing to share your episode with your audience in as many ways as possible.

Be generous – You might be invited back!”

And here’s what Trisha Lewis, host of the Make It Real podcast, says:

“I want guests to contact me themselves – not through an agent. Whilst there are exceptions, I just feel that I want to know the actual person is keen – and it is not just part of a PR strategy.

I also want to see real human language in the request – not a lot of buzzwords or showy-off stats about how great they are. I want humans with all their scars and stories.”

Let’s wrap up

Being interviewed on a podcast will get you in front of a whole new audience, which could be highly valuable to your business if the right person is listening or watching.

Follow the tips above to stand the best chance of being a good podcast guest, and see where it takes you.

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