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How To Screen Guests For Your Podcast

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Hey, Ross here. We have a great guest post from Andrew Allemann of PodcastGuests.com.

If you want to find guests to be on your podcast or find podcasts to be a guest on check out his site here.

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All podcasters have experienced it: an interview with a guest for their podcast that ends up being a big flop.

The guest was boring, they rambled all over the place, they focused on pitching their own product, or they had horrible sound quality.

Not only does the interview end up being a waste of time, but they have to break the news to the other person that their interview won’t air.

Preventing this from happening requires some preparation work, but once a podcaster has a process for it, they’ll be able to have great guest segments every time they interview someone.

Here are steps you can take to make sure each guest is a home run:

Listen to some podcasts they’ve been on

Ideally, the guest has already been a guest on another podcast. Track down their prior appearances and listen to one or two of their interviews.

Listening to just five minutes of a couple of different interviews will be enlightening:

  • Does the guest have good sound quality? Sometimes a bad recording is the podcaster’s fault, but if there’s bad sound quality on a couple of different interviews then it’s probably the guest’s fault. That’s especially the case if they call in from a loud place.
  • Do they answer questions clearly, or do they go off on tangents?
  • Do they speak over the interviewer?
  • How much time do they spend educating the audience compared to talking about how great they are (or their product is)?
  • Are they interesting?

All of these questions can be answered by listening to about 10-15 minutes of audio.

Have a pre-call

Pre-calls to screen guests can be extremely helpful. It’s basically a short, dry run of the interview. It also helps create the structure and topics of the interview.

These calls help clear up any sound issues beforehand, too.

The downside is that they take lots of time to schedule them and have the conversation. Ideally, guests can be screened by listening to previous podcast appearances. But if there are any outstanding worries about the quality of the guest, a pre-call makes a lot of sense.

Send explicit audio instructions

Guests who aren’t podcasters themselves don’t understand what sort of setup they need in order to sound good on recordings. Hosts need to be explicit with their instructions.

The host should explain that the guest needs to have a dedicated microphone, not just speak into their laptop mic. It helps to explain what’s in it for them: they want to make a good impression, and good sound is necessary for that to happen.

Some podcasters even go so far as to send a microphone to guests to make sure the quality is good. That might seem like overkill for some podcasters, but it makes sense for big podcasts.

Don’t assume anything is common sense. It’s amazing that some people call in for a podcast interview from a loud place like an airport. Ask the guest to be in a quiet place for the interview.

One suggestion if the guest doesn’t have a good place for the interview is to have them call in from a walk-in clothing closet. The clothes will absorb the echoes.

Get their one sheet and ask follow-up questions

Ask the podcaster to send their one sheet to you. A one-sheet is a one-page overview of the guest and their expertise.

If they don’t have a one-sheet, ask them for an in-depth bio.

Armed with this information, the podcast host should ask pointed questions via email (or in the pre-call) and see how the guest responds.

One trick is to ask if there are a few specific questions the guest would like the host to asks. If these questions are all about promoting the guest’s business, that’s a red flag.

Be upfront about the purpose of the podcast

A guest interview should be beneficial to three groups: the podcaster’s audience, the podcaster, and the guest. In that order.

Be upfront with the guest about what the purpose of the interview is. In most cases, it will be to educate the audience about a particular topic that the guest knows a lot about.

Some guests treat it as more of an opportunity to pitch their products or services. The only person that benefits is the guest. It degrades the podcast listener experience and leads to lost listeners.

To prevent a guest from over-pitching, tell them that time is reserved at the end of the podcast for them to provide a call-to-action, such as visiting their website. Explain that they should build up their credibility with an educational, audience-first interview. Then, when it comes time to do a brief pitch, it will be more effective.

Ask them how they will promote the episode

One of the benefits of having a guest interview is that it can grow the podcast’s audience. A key goal is to get the guest to promote the show they are on to their own audience. This expands the podcaster’s reach.

Many guests promise the moon but fail to deliver when it comes to promoting their appearances. The more specific the host can be ahead of time about the guest’s promotion commitments, the more likely the guest will follow through on them.

Just asking them to “post to social media” is too general. Will they post a link to Facebook? Twitter?

Where should they link to–the podcast website or an Apple Podcasts listing?

Preparation takes time

Properly screening guests takes time. It might seem easier to just take the chance and hope that the guest works out.

But screening also helps the host properly refine their questions, leading to a crisp, educational and valuable interview. Everyone wins when the host prepares the guest by screening them.


Article By Andrew Allemann

Andrew Allemann is the founder of PodcastGuests.com, a service that connects podcasters with guests for their shows.
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