I will openly admit that it has been some time that I’ve published a post written by me. Despite adding a few more balls to juggle, I’ve still managed to provide some content whether it’s been in the form of guest posts, podcast show notes or blog interviews. When I looked back at the last time I actually wrote a blog post, it was back in June. More time had passed than I realized.
I have been focusing more on podcasting, which can be very time-consuming, but I consider it to be a labour of love. With the explosion of podcasts this year, I wanted to provide some tips to those who are just starting out or thinking of starting one in the near future. Even though I launched summer of 2019, I actually still consider myself to be a newbie, but I am more than happy to share what I have learned so far from interviewing guests and from being a guest on other podcasts.
1. Having a Calendar Link To Schedule recordings
This is often done through a scheduling tool such as Acuity or Calendly. This eliminates a lot of back and forth of asking when are you free.
2. Provide Information About The Podcast
I’ve been doing this via email. But to streamline things, I’m planning on creating a one pager/mini media kit of the podcast itself. I hope to get this done during the holidays or at least by the end of January 2021.
3. Make it Easy For Them To Provide Information About Themselves
Create some sort of form (Google Forms, JotForm, TypeForm) where they can fill out the information about themselves, questions they’d like to be asked or send them a list of questions/what you need specifically from them.
4. Give Them The Opportunity To Promote Specific Things
This is also included on the form, but I wanted to bring this out as a tip on it’s own: Prior to the show, ask them if there’s anything specific they want to talk about or promote, such as the launch of their book/product/services. I can’t tell you how many times something has piqued my interest because someone had recommended it on a podcast.
5. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
I needed to put this tip in capital letters because I feel it’s the most important one if you have an interview-based podcast.
Even if they have given you potential questions they’d like to be asked, you will be able to come up with even more interesting material if you research the guest. Consume as much information as you can about them – blog posts they’ve written, other podcast interviews they’ve been on, talks that they’ve done, what they’ve posted on their social media feeds.
This can be a lot of work, but it’s necessary work that will benefit you in the long-run. Guests will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to research them and craft questions that relate specifically to their story, their journey. It’s perfectly fine to have a set of questions/segment (i.e. a lightning round) where you ask guests the same questions each episode, but that shouldn’t be your entire episode.
This will be in the next post: How To Be A Great Podcast Guest – An episode worthy guest should have a strong online presence and links to things to the aforementioned things via a media page.
6. Let Them Know The Podcast Format Ahead of Time
As someone who has also been a guest, I personally appreciate knowing if the episode is going to be a live stream or pre-recorded video. Ergo, I try to make myself look somewhat presentable vs with audio I can don the messy bun, gettin’ stuff done look. In addition to wanting to look presentable, I know I need to get into a different mindset when I am on video ( I remind myself to smile, look at the camera, not slouch and not fiddle with my hair, jewelry, etc).
7. Be Early For Your Recording
Make sure you can log onto the recording platform. Do a sound check for your own mic and a sound check with your guest. Have your notes and questions ready to go.
8. FOCUS ON THE INTERVIEW
Ok, so this one is also an important tip, which is why I decided to put it in caps as well. Now is not the time to multi-task. Close any unnecessary tabs. Put your phone away or set it to do not disturb mode. You want to make sure you are in the interviewer zone to get the best interview possible. The last thing you want is for it to seem like you are not listening to your guest.
9. Let The Conversation Flow Naturally
Give them the opportunity to share their wisdom, knowledge, experience and be of value to the audience. I do believe it’s important to have talking points/open-ended questions prepared, but they’re meant to be more of a guide. You may not end up asking every question or your guest may have already answered the question in response to a different question.
If the response allows for it, ask follow-up questions.
10. Respect Your Guest’s Requests
If they wish for a certain part of the episode to be cut out or depending on the reason, do not wish for the episode to be published – respect that. If you need to, perhaps reach out to them and have a conversation about it.
11. Allow Room To Breathe Between Recordings
I know that some hosts do batch recordings (several in a day or a whole bunch for a few weeks, etc), but I’ve found it to be exhausting to go this route. I find that it takes a lot of mental energy and focus to conduct a great interview. Afterward, I find myself very inspired by the guest, but at the same time mentally drained and need a bit of time to regroup.
Find your rhythm and what works best for you in order to produce a great interview. For me, I’ve found that recording 1-2x/week on certain days works best for me.
Regardless of your recording frequency, it’s important to allow a bit of buffer time before and after the recording to breathe. Prior to the recording, quickly go over the process again, ask them if they have any questions, if they need a bit more time to get ready, get set up, grab some water, need a bio break -The goal here is to make sure they are comfortable and relaxed prior to the interview.
Afterwards, ask them again if they have any questions and let them know when they should expect to see the episode live. Provide updates and inform them if there are any delays. When the episode is a few days away from being done, I’ll often post a teaser on social media, letting the audience know the next episode is coming soon. Provide updates and inform them if there are any delays.
12. Make It Easy For Them To Promote Their Episode
When the episode is live, send them a detailed email with links and marketing assets. I like to provide them with images for several of the social media platforms, a quote graphic and a sound bite. When sharing I’ll tag the guest, so it makes it easy for them to re-share to their networks.
13. Knowing When To Say No To A Podcast Guest Inquiry
I know this may seem like a hard one. I am truly grateful for every single request I receive (and especially grateful to matchmaker.fm for creating a platform to connect guests and podcasters). I’ve said no quite a few times because I didn’t feel it was aligned with the direction my podcast was heading. I will admit I’ve asked a lot of people to be on my podcast, only to realize later on that they would be better suited for a different podcast and never followed through.
Someone may not be a good fit for your podcast, but there is a multitude of podcasts out there, many of them which they may be a good fit for. You have permission to be picky. It is your show. Also, while you may be a good fit for someone’s show, they may not be a good fit for your how.
On my matchmaker profile, I have a list of topics that I’m looking for experts/advocates to speak on those topics.
14. Asking For Feedback and Sending Out Surveys
This is something I’m trying to be more consistent on. Feedback is the only way we grow and get better. You won’t know whether you’re doing something wrong or doing something right unless you ask for feedback.