If “The Onion” can be believed, being a good podcast guest might not be that important. After all, 250 Million Americans Still Need Guests On Their Podcasts This Week. Of course, it’s a joke, but what is true about the headline is that podcasting seems to be on the upswing once again. Companies are launching podcasts – sometimes live, sometimes recorded. Individual creators are doing it, too.
And many of them invite guests to the shows. Some public relations firms now also reach out to podcasters to get their clients on shows. I got three emails yesterday alone. Whichever way podcasts and guests connect, being a good podcast guest matters. But what does that mean, and how can you be a good guest?
The foundation of being a good podcast guest
These are the foundation, from my perspective, and I’ve produced over 800 podcast episodes over varying shows.
- Be easy to work with
- Understand the style of the show
Let me explain these a bit: There are weeks when I record three to five episodes of the Business Storytelling Show. I have a process. Let me follow it. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate ideas and whatnot. I love collaboration. But this is the current setup. For example, I use Calendly to handle my bookings. Some guests try to get me to use their system. Typically, that’s not helpful. My Calendly link also includes all the agreements and details.
Every once in a while, somebody I invited will ask all kinds of questions:
- How many subscribers do you have?
- What’s the number of downloads in the first 25.25 days?
- Etc. etc.
I used to actually send my podcast media kit in some of these cases.
Think of it this way: You are invited to a dinner party. Will you ask what’s for dinner before accepting the invite? Kind of rude, right? Exactly. If you have rules around being a guest, good, but make decisions based on publicly-available information.
Understand the flow of the show
When it comes to the show, the flow is similar for each episode.
- I share stories and ask questions
- My guest shares stories and has a conversation with me
- An episode is 24 minutes – partly because that’s how long our slot on the DB&A Television Network is.
The style of the show is a conversation. I usually don’t share questions or have a long prep process with my guest. I know the topic we agreed to, so let’s chat about it. Now, when a guest asks if I have any questions I could send them to prep a bit, I usually oblige. Until they want to have a 42-email chain with me discussing the questions, or they made me write questions and then rip them up and send me their own.
Now, some shows have different processes, and that’s fine. Whatever works. But be aware of the specific style of the show you are going on. I love when guests tell me they just listened to the latest episode again to ensure they understand the usual tone and flow.
Align your topic with audience interest
As I discuss in this podcast episode, the best conversations happen when you let people talk about what they want to talk about. The same holds for podcast episodes. When guests talk about their favorite topic, it will likely be a great episode. The trick is that the topic also needs to be of interest to the show’s audience.
The role of the host
Podcasting pro Max Branstetter says the host also plays a role in making it a good guest experience, which helps the guest be a better guest.
The basics of being a good podcast guest
Some other areas are worth acing as well.
Read next: How to improve your body language on video
It took me a while to get my setup perfect, and it’s probably as close as ever now, but it took me a bit. It’s okay not to have the perfect lighting or mic, but try to get your setup to put you in the best possible way. I also think that production quality will become ever more important with the increase in shows. So, try to have the best possible setup – especially if your PR firm pitches you to shows. Also, know if the show is audio only or video and if it’s live.
Ideas for everyone:
- Sit with a window in front of your face to get better daylight lighting in the case of video.
- Use the best microphone you have. AirPods often work great when you don’t have another one.
Roll with the punches
Stuff happens. A cat jumps on the desk, the garbage truck drives by, and your window is open, kids walk in. Just roll with the punches and keep going. Or acknowledge it.
On this episode, a child walked in and my guest just kept going. At some point, the kid walked out of the screen. On the audio podcast, listeners won’t even know that somebody walked in.
Apply your areas to the show audience
My show is “The Business Storytelling Show,” and I love when guests say: “Since this is a storytelling podcast, here’s how…”
And then, they give an example related to the topic and tie it back to storytelling. Always keep that in mind. Who is the audience, and what pieces of your story do they care about?
Just be yourself. Be nice. Have a conversation. Talk conversationally.
Go with the stumbles
Mistakes happen. When the podcast is livestreamed, you just have to go with them. Perhaps acknowledge them and correct yourself even when it’s later in the episode.
When it’s a recorded episode, pause and start over. Make a note for the editor to cut the stumble.
Sometimes we don’t catch a slip.
Be on time
Be there when the host needs you to be there. I usually book my livestreams and recordings like this:
- Noon – show up. Touch base, tech check, etc.
- 12:15 – start recording and go live
Some hosts start at the top of the hour and want you to arrive early. Whatever the setup, know what it is.
Once it’s published
Once the show is live, make sure to share it on your social channels. It helps you and it helps the show. After all, the show also took the time to have you on an episode. Sharing it is a bit of a thank you as well.
I was on 30-some podcasts as a guest when I launched my “Going Live” book. It was a great way to get the message out without going on a book tour. I tried to make it easy for my hosts and followed their process. For my show, podcast episodes with guests are my favorites. I learn so much myself, and it’s usually great to connect with experts or reconnect with old acquaintances.