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5 Ways to Be a Great Podcast Guest

podcast guest Apr 15, 2021

The old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression," couldn't be truer when it comes to being a podcast guest. In this role, you have the opportunity to make a great impression on your host and their listening audience. 


Over the past few months, I've had the opportunity to appear as a guest on dozens of podcasts as a part of my book launch. I also host my own show and have been on the other side of the mic interviewing dozens of guests. 


The truth is: I've collected a few horror stories as a host. One promising guest decided to record in a public office space where a mask was required (it got even more awkward when the office phone started ringing—everywhere!). Another spent five full minutes advocating for something I repeatedly speak against. These situations make the host's (and editor's) jobs harder. It wastes their time and offers a guarantee that the guest will never be invited back!


My favorite guests are the ones who take the time to prepare. These favorite interviews turn into favorite episodes, and they become the ones I work harder to promote because they further my mission and message. I like them and want to share them with everyone!


For this reason, when I'm a guest on a show—I make it my goal to serve the host and their listeners well. Being a great guest doesn't require a huge time investment. Instead, do these five things, and you'll rock your next podcast appearance.


1. Listen to two of the show's episodes.

Before I appear on any podcast, I try to listen to at least two of the show's episodes. I choose the first episode because that's often where the host introduces themselves and tells their story. Then, I search for an episode that is most like my topic. If I can't find anything similar, I listen to their most recent episode so I can hear what they've just released. If I do find a topic close to mine, I reference the other episode if it fits into our conversation.


Listening to the show before you appear is a blessing to your host for a number of reasons. First, you can have a better conversation because you have a better idea of who you're talking to and what the show's audience cares about most. For example: If I guest on a show for homeschooling moms, I will avoid saying things like, "When you send your kids off to school each day. . ." Even a throwaway comment like that could disconnect me from the audience. 


When you get to know the show before you appear, it demonstrates care. You're recognizing through your preparation that this appearance isn't about them serving you, but you serving them.


2. Send a short and easy-to-read bio.

If your bio lists all the jobs you've had since high school, all the letters in your degrees, and your pets' names—it may be too long for your host to read! Keep it concise and interesting. If you get bored reading it, the show's listeners will too. Plus, you don't want to waste precious interview time waiting for the host to rattle through your hobbies and love for Mr. Whiskers. You've got important, more relevant things to communicate!


3. Send a few concise questions that can serve as a jumping-off point for your conversation. 

Let your host know that he or she doesn't have to use them, but by doing this, you provide a framework for your host to plan from. This also gives your host a better idea of what you are ready and able to talk about. When you're answering questions that you are comfortable with, you'll sound more confident, and this, ultimately, will make the recording smoother and the show much more interesting for the audience.


4. Work to get rid of your fillers. 

We all have them. The "umm," "Right?" and the "you know." And your tongue clicks. Sigh. Especially the tongue clicks. It is possible to break these bad habits, but it takes thought and effort. Rehearsing your answers can help. Often these "fillers" present themselves when we're searching for the next thing to say. With a little practice, we can replace stalling sounds with a simple pause. And, that's a gift to whoever edits the show on which you're appearing!


5. Bring energy to your interview. 

When I filmed Nailed It for Netflix, the producer was constantly coaching me to bring more energy. I'm already a pretty excitable person—but he emphasized that it takes extra exuberance for that energy to be felt through the camera. The same applies to the microphone. Smile. Use inflection in your voice. Think about varying your volume and your speed. And if all else fails, drink a Red Bull before you record. Energy is what will make you an interesting guest to listen to. Now, if you're promoting your new meditation app, perhaps it's okay to lull people into a coma. But, if not, make it your goal to bring a fresh energy that incites and inspires your host and the show's listeners!


Try these five strategies before you appear on your next podcast, and watch what happens!

Guest Post by Heather Creekmore

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