Podcasts can be a great way for agencies to showcase their expertise, build connections with potential clients, and demonstrate a point of view.
Bringing guests on your podcast allows you to create compelling content without relying solely on your own team. At the same time, it gives you the ability to reach new audiences when those guests share their appearance.
But how do you make the guest’s experience amazing so that they feel good about taking the time to participate in your show?
I have been producing podcasts for more than 15 years, and I have learned a lot along the way about how to make the process as convenient as possible. At the same time, I have been a appear on other shows and have had a chance to see what works — and what doesn’t — from the perspective of the guest.
First impressions count
When you invite a guest to be on your podcast, it is your first chance to make their experience worthwhile.
Be clear about what your podcast is about and how you think they would make a great guest.
You need to set expectations from the start about what is in it for them, and what commitment you are requesting.
Make this outreach as personal as possible. You want to demonstrate that you have done your research and have a good understanding of their expertise and how it appeals to your audience.
Make scheduling easy
There is nothing worse than a long, convoluted scheduling thread on email. Your guests are busy people and you need to respect their time — from scheduling to their actual interview.
Use a scheduling tool like Calendly that will enable your prospective guest to simply pick from your available recording times.
This also allows you to block off times that are better for you to record. For example, if you work from home and the kids return from school at 3 PM, you might want to only show times before that to ensure that you have a quiet recording environment.
Be clear about what recording with you is like
I send my podcast guests a link to an informational page that describes the recording process.
Some of the things that I include are:
- The length of the recording session
- The fact that I record live-to-tape and don’t do post-production editing except for sound quality or technical issues
- The structure of our conversation
- Technical tips regarding audio/video (microphone, earbuds, camera positioning, Internet connection strength, etc.)
- How the audio and video will be used and distributed after the recording
- Information about the target audience
By providing your guest with this background, they can know what to expect on the day of the interview. It doesn’t eliminate the potential for technical issues or misunderstandings, but it certainly improves your odds of success.
Send confirmation emails
At the time of booking and a day or so before the recording, you should send an email to your guest confirming the date/time and other details.
If you use a scheduling app, it will probably allow you to set these up to go automatically. Otherwise, you will need to set reminder tasks for yourself to make sure you send them manually.
It can be especially helpful to send these reminders because sometimes your guests may forget that they need to be in a good recording environment at the time of the appointment. It is even more important if you are using the video because some guests will want to prepare their personal appearance to be camera-ready.
Plan a brief pre-show conversation
Before you hit record, you should remind your guest about the show format, audience, and any other important details. You may want to let them know where you plan to start the conversation, though I would avoid providing a complete pre-show list of questions since that can lead to a stilted dialogue.
This is also a good time to ask them if they have something to promote or a question that they want to make sure that they have a chance to answer. Remember that the guest is appearing for your benefit, but they also expect to get something out of the investment of their time.
Once you are sure that the guest is all set and has no questions, it is time to record the show.
After the recording
Once the production has completed, you will typically have a brief pre-show conversation where you thank the guest for taking the time to appear.
This is also a good time to remind them about how the episode will be distributed — and at least a rough idea of when it is scheduled to be published.
After hanging up with your guest, you should immediately confirm that the recording saved properly. Most of the time you will be in the clear, but it is better to find out sooner than later if something went wrong.
No matter how much we all prepare, it is inevitable that eventually we will have a technical gremlin get into one of our episodes. Often you can still salvage some or all of the interview, but you don’t want to wait until weeks later to let the gust know their was an issue if there is no choice but to re-record.
After the interview, I like to follow up with a thank you email. A handwritten note is also a nice touch, and something I often add after the episode is published.
Beyond merely thanking the guest, though, you also want to use these communications to again remind them of what to expect.
Once you publish, you should send a detailed email that includes the relevant link(s) to the podcast (including video, transcript, and any other resources). You should then explain how it will be distributed and what your plans are for social promotion and amplification.
Finally, you should consider providing the guest with pre-composed social shares that they can use to promote their own appearance. Make things as easy as possible for them.
Promoting the guest’s appearance
When you share episode through podcast platforms, via email, or on social media, make sure that you are appropriately promoting the guest and their business or organization.
That includes putting in relevant links to their website or other resources mentioned on the show, tagging their social accounts, and being clear about the expertise that they brought to the table in the conversation.
This post-production promotion can make all the difference in the guest’s perception of their appearance and you want to make sure that they walk away happy to have taken the time to be on your podcast.
Ask for advice and suggestions
I frequently ask podcast guests for recommendations about other guests or feedback that could help improve the guest experience.
Most people enjoy being asked for advice, so it is a way to both signal respect as well as to get useful information that will put you on the path to continuous improvement for your podcast.
When in doubt, put yourself in the guest’s shoes
One final suggestion. At every step in the process, think of what you would want if you were the guest. Observe carefully when you are a guest on someone else’s podcast to get new ideas about how to make the experience on your show even better.
Look at your guest as a partner in the production of that episode. They are a resource not just for the wisdom that they will share while the recording is going, but also for all of the interactions that they will have with you and your target audience before, during, and after the episode gets created.