How to be a great podcast guest

So you have decided to try to reach new potential clients by appearing on other people’s podcasts. But now you are wondering how you can be a great guest that creates a memorable experience for the host and their audience.

Just as being a great podcast host starts with your first contact, the same is true for being a great guest.

First Impressions

You create your first impression as a guest with how your initial connection — usually via email — takes place. 

If you’re pitching yourself (or someone is pitching on your behalf), be sure that you really understand the show that you are targeting. Know who their audience is and what they like to talk about. 

Blind pitching that relies on volume and employs a “spray and pray” approach may net the occasional appearance, but they are unlikely to be the kind of quality hits that you want.

As a longtime podcast host myself, I can tell you that most podcast pitches fail because the person pitching has never listened to an episode. I get pitched for guests on a show that has never had a single guest. I get pitched on topics that have nothing to do with my audience.

Finding a Fit

Make sure that your pitching is on target and personalized. Reference specific episodes and why it makes you think that you might be a good fit. Clearly explain what value you could provide for the audience.

As important, you should be thinking about how you can promote the episode when it airs. If you have a large following of your own on social media or a substantial email list or any other asset, be sure to mention it.

Podcast hosts have guests not just for the content but also for the ability to expand their own reach and hopefully attract new regular listeners.

If your guest appearance is the result of you being solicited instead of doing the pitching yourself, that’s great! The host has already signaled that they believe there is a fit and they think you have value to provide.

But don’t just accept the host’s word. It is important for you to still do some basic vetting to make sure that you agree. Go listen to part of an episode and check out past guests. Understand if you really would be a good fit.

Agree on Expectations

From here, it is important to get clear agreement on expectations — both on your part and from the host.

Ask questions about the expected format of the show, including length, style, and whether video will be recorded and published. Figure out if it is “live to tape” or if the host does substantial post-production and editing.

Next you want to be clear about what topics will be covered. Don’t ask for a list of questions in advance. Very few hosts or guests can pull off the pre-prepared Q&A without making it seem contrived and feeling stilted.

It’s Game Day

When it comes time to record, be sure that you are prepared. Be in a quiet spot with a strong Internet connection. Test your mic and headphones before you connect to the host’s platform of choice.

Oh, and be on time. Or maybe even a minute early. 

When you first connect, expect to have a brief pre-show conversation. If the host doesn’t initiate, you should confirm the details of the show recording — especially if the scheduling emails were with a producer or assistant. 

If you are concerned about how your name is pronounced or how you are introduced, make sure to raise it before the recording starts. If you have something specific that you want to promote or discuss, go ahead and let the host know. Better to get that squared away than to be annoyed about it after the fact.

The Interview

Remember that the episode is probably designed to be a conversation, not a monologue. Don’t give one word answers that make it awkward for the host to proceed, but don’t filibuster and eat up so much air time that the host doesn’t get a word in.

Treat it like you would a conversation with a new connection in a coffee shop. There should be ample give-and-take.

You also need to remember that this is a chance to showcase your knowledge and expertise, but probably not to sell directly (unless explicitly invited to do so by the host). As long as you are sharing great value, you will attract potential clients if they are a good fit.

Be engaging. Your goal isn’t to get out as many facts as possible but to participate in a real conversation. Don’t hesitate to ask the host questions (if appropriate) to bring them in and make it a real two-way discussion.

Finally, you get bonus points if you have the know-how and ability to record the conversation as a backup to whatever the host is doing. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes technology fails and you can be a real hero if you have something in your back pocket when it does.

After You Record

As you would with any opportunity that you get, follow up with a thank you note. You can do it by email, but it makes an even bigger impression if you mail a handwritten note.

If you have additional resources that you’d like to share links to for possible inclusion on the episode’s web page, be sure to send those along. Don’t go overboard here, but if it is something you specifically referenced during the episode or is very closely related and high-value for listeners, it may be worth passing along.

If the host hasn’t already told you, then you may wish to ask when the episode is likely to be published so you can plan ahead for your own promotion.

When Your Episode Airs

All of your effort paid off and the episode is now being distributed. That’s great!

Now what do you do?

This is when the fun begins — and when you have the biggest opportunity to show you were an amazing guest.

Be certain to like and re-share any social posts that the host publishes. It will help get them additional visibility which means more potential listeners will be exposed to you and your expertise.

But you also want to share it far and wide within your own network. Put it out on all of your social channels and your email list. Publish it to your blog or other platforms that you might have.

If you can pull out specific nuggets to promote, that is even better. But be sure to at least get the word out to as many people as you can. 

This post-show promotion is vitally important. It is reinforcement with your own audience of your position as a recognized expert, but it also makes the host feel good about having had you on as a guest. 

Not only will the podcast’s host feel good about the effort you took to promote the episode, but they may also tell other podcasters that you were a great guest. Even if they don’t, other podcasters may see what you have done and think to themselves that you would make a good guest because you would do the same kind of promotion for them.

Remember that most podcast hosts don’t make money directly from their shows. They may be passion projects or they may be efforts to grow their own stature as a thought leader. In any case, they will appreciate your efforts on their show’s behalf.

Put a Bow On It

Your last step is one more thank you note to the host. Let them know you appreciated the ability to appear on their show and their distribution efforts.

At the same time, you may want to take the opportunity to let them know the ways that you shared the episode out. You don’t need to seem self-congratulatory in the process, but it can be helpful to let the host know about what you did — especially less publicly visible things like sending out to your house email list.

Finally, make sure that you are connected with the host on social media platforms and keep them on your list of relationships to nurture. While most podcasts don’t have repeat guests, you may still have opportunities to collaborate with those individuals — who are often influencers in your space — in the future.

Chip Griffin

Chip Griffin

Chip is the Founder of the Small Agency Growth Alliance and a longtime agency owner and executive. He helps PR and marketing agency leaders build better businesses.

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