20 Oct Your Podcast Guests Can Make Or Break an Episode: 7 Simple Tips to Choose the Right Ones
Choosing Guests for Your Podcast
What does your listener want to learn?: Making a guest profile.
It’s always best to begin by asking ourselves, what might our listener want to learn from our interviews and conversations? What subjects and topics are interesting to them? Who is out there that’s knowledgeable, funny or leading their field? Most of all, who is captivating to listen to?
It helps to write down a specific list of attributes your ideal guest would have before you start reaching out. This will help you be objective when researching guests for your podcast. It’s easy to get fixated on credentials but the truth is, some people are better than others when it comes to public speaking.
Think of making a guest profile as if you’re looking to hire someone. It can be an excel sheet that outlines experience, professional background, personal attributes as well as ideal connections. Sometimes when you do this, you realise that your ideal guest might be different to who you first pictured and you reevaluate your approach.
Find a guest that you are genuinely interested in.
As a listener, It’s easy to tell if you’re interviewing a guest because you’re eager to find out more about them and what they have to say, or if you’re just talking to them on your show because you ought to. Or because a podcast you like had them as a guest. Or for any other reason. When you are genuinely interested in someone, you’ll be able to properly connect with your guest and give your listeners a better experience.
What else have they done?
Has the guest you’re interested in been on a podcast before? Or some other kind of broadcast or public speaking event? Do they have a blog and write in a style that resonates with you? There’s no better way to fully grasp what to expect than a preview of what they’ve done before. Search the web for any clips, footage or audio of past and present gigs they’ve done. This will also help with your research in a big way because you will know what they’ve been asked before. This means you can prepare a list of unique questions or revisit answers that you wanted to know more about.
Research, but don’t obsess over it.
Interviews can feel rigid if you already feel like you know every single thing about your guest. Ready yourself with questions based on your research to put to your guest during the show so you can have genuine reactions to what they have to say. Being over-prepared in this area can potentially sterilise the conversation somewhat.
What have you been listening to?
References can really help you see what works in an interview and what doesn’t. Revisit your favourite interviews and ask yourself, what do you like about them? What made this particular interaction so enjoyable? What did the interviewer do that created the space for the guest to be able to talk so frankly? Was there anything you didn’t like or you thought could have been improved?
It can be helpful to write down a list of attributes about specific guests that you appreciated. How did they make you feel? What did you like about the way they answered questions? Are they serious, are they funny? What’s their vibe? And most importantly, which attributes could work on your show and which won’t.
Using social media to find guests.
Many people starting podcasting already have a community around them. Whether you’re someone who watches your community from a distance or someone actively involved within, you will come across certain people you feel represent shared values, personally and/or professionally with yourself and your audience. You may come across people who are leaders in their field, people who are supporting or upholding a wide network in your industry or just big personalities who see your world through a similar lens.
Whether we reach out to people who know a lot about one specific unique part of our industry or people who are seemingly outsiders, we can get a good feel for what value they will add to our podcasts by checking out their social media content.
How to reach out to guests and pitch to get them on your show.
So we’ve done some research and found who we want on our show. And now we’re thinking, what’s the best way to reach out to them? What do I say? Do I send over a quick hi or my entire life story?
The best method to reach out to someone you’ve seen around is through that same avenue you’ve seen them in. If you know them personally, then meet in person. If your ‘likes’ on their Instagram posts are your biggest interaction with them, then contact them on there. Be mindful that on social media, many may have preferential methods of contact listed (check their bios). Others may receive many direct messages and miss yours so it’s not always the best way to go. If you do have their email, then it’s still a preferred route for most.
When you write out your message, you want to include information about your podcast, what it does for people and what you want your audience to get from it. Say how you discovered them and tell them a bit about yourself. Try to keep the message as short and sweet as possible and only include essential info. Remember that there will likely be a bit of back and forth so they will have the chance to ask questions too. Extremely long emails, especially from a stranger can be a bit off-putting. Show that your care but don’t make it seem like without them being on your show, your podcast will die a tragic death.
Ideally, we want to zoom, call or meet face to face as soon as the first contact has been made with a reply. We want to quickly figure each other out and it can be hard to do that with brief emails and written messages. Often your passion and commitment to your podcast, and similarly to your niche will shine through when you’re chatting face to face or voice to voice. Your excitement and enthusiasm will do the same for them and encourage them to get involved. No amount of exclamation marks and smiley faces in the text will spark the same joy as being face to face with your heart on your sleeve, ready to share your dream & take on the world.
Good luck & find that dream guest!
Creating a professional-quality podcast that people love to listen to can be achieved in a Mainyard Studios podcast studio.
P.s here’s some useful tools to help find guests:
+ Social media
Professionals in your industry
Film & documentaries