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Podcast Interviews: A Guide to Making Yours Successful

Podcast interviews are one of the most effective ways to expand your show’s reach, attract new listeners, and establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Done right, podcast interviews are a win-win-win for you, your guests, and your audience.

Your guest gets to reach a whole new audience and your audience gets to learn from some leading names in their fields. And besides all the above-mentioned perks to podcast interviews, inviting guests on your podcast has the added bonus of allowing you to meet people you admire and to form some incredible relationships!

That sounds fantastic, right? But perhaps it also sounds a little daunting? Never fear! We’ve made preparing and acing guest interviews easy with our step-by-step guide for setting up guest interviews.

Step 1: Send the Invitation

In order to have successful podcast interviews, you first need someone to interview! And so Step One in our guide for setting up successful interviews is to reach out to those people you’d love to have on your show and inquire if they would be willing to be an upcoming guest.

(We’re working off the assumption that you already have a Dream Podcast Guest List of all the people you’d love to interview on your show. If you don’t have such a list, make compiling this your Step One, and carry on from there!)

Send them an email that simply (but not boringly!) informs them who you are, gives a quick, compelling description of your podcast, and why you’d want to interview them.

Share the reasons why you believe they would be a great guest for your show, and let them know why your audience would love to hear from them. You should also include what you believe your guest would gain because of this guest appearance on your show.

Whether it’s a new audience, exposure for their current project, or simply promoting their message, you should make it clear how the experience would also be beneficial for them.

Bonus Tips:

  • In your invitation, include links to your show, or to specific episodes, which can help give your potential guest better insight into the style and quality of your show. This can help turn a “maybe” into a “yes” as it can help showcase all your podcast offers.
  • Don’t be generic! While it’s perfectly okay to work from a template, make sure you still take the time to personalize the email to your specific guest. Just remember, you don’t want to come across like a stalker by mentioning things that are too personal. You just want to show that you know who you’re talking to and you legitimately want them on your show because of what they offer.
  • Avoid ambiguity! Be clear about what you’re expecting from your potential guest. You don’t want to come across as demanding, but you want to clearly define what you’re looking for from your guest so that there is no miscommunication taking place, which can lead to a very awkward interview. Definitely not the vibe you’re going for, I’m sure!

Need some helping sending out those invites? This post is just what you need: Everything You Need To Invite and Book Your Next Podcast Guest (Email Templates Included!)

Step 2: Set Up the Schedule

The best news! Your invitation has been accepted! Step One can officially be marked as a success! Now on to Step Two, figuring out your recording schedule. You now need to arrange a date and time for the interview.

Now, this step does have the potential to derail the whole step up! A whole chunk of time can be wasted going back and forth, trying to find what works for both of you.

To avoid any stress, a strategic approach is needed. Start by eliminating all those initial back-and-forth emails by scheduling a Zoom, Skype, or phone call.

I know this sounds scary, especially if you’re someone who does not particularly like making phone calls! And this already scary task can be made additionally nerve-wrecking if it’s a guest you really admire! But it really is the best way to get immediate responses with regards to a workable date and time.

If a call is not a feasible plan, simply send them a list of all the dates and times that you have available. They can then pick the slot that works best for them. To make your task easier – and to ensure you never miss an interview! – make use scheduling software like Calendly or Acuity Schedule, or any of the others available. This way, you may establish dates that suit your schedule while still allowing your visitors to pick a date that works for them, ensuring that the procedure runs as smoothly as possible.

Step 3: Personal Preparation

So your guest has said “YES!” and you have a date and time locked down. Now the real work begins…preparing for the interview!

Remember, even though some of your favorite interview podcasts make those banter-filled, highly valuable conversations sound easy-breezy, I can guarantee a huge amount of preparation was done behind the scenes.

Start by doing a little more research on your guest. Learn as much as you can about their professional life so you have plenty of background when it comes to setting questions. You can delve into their personal life, but a good rule is to only use as much as is relevant to the reason they’re coming to your show.

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to set your questions. You need to remember, particularly if your guest is someone who regularly appears on podcasts, that you shouldn’t ask run-of-the-mill questions. You want to make the time spent with you worthwhile for your guest, as much as for your audience.

So what will set your show apart? Think of different angles you can ask your questions from. Focus on another aspect of what they do. Or hone in on another part of their story. This is where thorough research will really come into play! If you’ve done that step well, finding interesting questions and setting your guest up for poignant anecdotes will be that much easier!

Bonus Tip:

  • During your initial conversations with your guest, ask them the topics they most enjoy covering, or if there is any particular direction they’d like to take parts of the discussion. That way, you can tailor your questions to also meet your guest’s expectations. The result will be a happy guest, and a great episode! 

Need a little help crafting great interview questions? Check out this post: Interviewing Podcast Guests: How To Turn Good Questions Into Great Questions

Step 4: Guest Preparation

An amazing podcast interview requires both sides to bring their A-game. So after you’ve drafted some stellar questions and have made done your preparation, the next step is to help your guest prepare.

Send your guest your list of interview questions well in advance of their interview. They can then have the time and space to read through the topics and questions and prepare their razor-sharp responses. This is really the only way to ensure that you give your guests the best opportunity to share their wealth of knowledge.

You should also provide the opportunity for your guest’s input. They might have a great story in their back pocket, and you asking for their input means you’ll be the one to uncover it! But this sort of communication has an added benefit. It helps to establish some chemistry between you and your guest. That means that when the interview rolls around, you’re not starting from scratch, trying to build some sort of repartee before you hit ‘record’.

Preparation helps put your guests at ease, and this can then lead to them feeling more comfortable opening up and revealing some of their best insights. It also creates way more opportunity for a bit of fun and banter between you and your guest, the hallmarks of a great podcast interview!

Step 5: The Set Up

So the day of the interview has arrived, now it’s time for Step 5 to come into play, setting up for your interview.

The crux of this step can be summed up in two words: Be organized! You want to be set-up and prepared well before the interview is set to take place. This may mean getting to the studio early, or setting up your equipment with plenty of time to spare.

If your interview is in-person, make sure that you have all you will need for your guest on hand. This could be any necessary paperwork, or things like a bottle of water or snacks.

What you don’t want happening is a mad rush when your guest arrives. This comes across as unprofessional, but may also set a bad tone for the interview. So always give yourself enough time for set-up!

Step 6: Quality Checks

Step 6 gets us one step closer to the actual interview! It’s now time for some quality checks. These are important! Can you imagine a scenario where your guest gave some mind-blowing nuggets of wisdom, only to realize after the fact that their mic was set far to low, there’s a weird buzz on the recording, or WORSE, you never actually hit record!

Don’t let this happen to your interviews! Always, always do quality checks with your guest before diving into the interview.

Besides checking the actual recording equipment, you should also have a Quality Check Checklist that you run through before recording. You should make sure all other devices are either turned off or on silent so they do not interrupt the interview. Make sure there are no click pens available so no one clicks away absent-mindedly. And you could also make sure that there’s no gum chewing happening.

Quality checks not only ensure that you’re getting the best-quality recording possible, but it also shows a level of professionalism which can also help put your guest at ease.

Step 7: The Interview

Finally, Step 7, the actual interview! At this point, all the previous steps should have made sure that this step is carried out without a hitch, but there are still a few things to keep in mind here.

First up, timing. Remember, you only have a limited amount of time with your guest. If they are on a strict schedule, you need to keep an eye on the clock so that you get through all the questions. If you spend too long on pleasantries or side stories, you may not make it to the core of the interview. Have your watch or a clock in easy view to help you stay on track.

But even though your time is limited, you still need to make sure your guest is comfortable at all times. You may need to take the occasional break from the interview so they can use the restroom, or get some refreshments if needed. A comfortable guest will always give you their best, so it’s in your best interest to make sure you’re checking in on them throughout the interview.

Bonus Tip:

  • If you do stop for the occasional break, a good tip is to not stop the recording. You never know when your guest will crack a joke or share some fantastic insight, so keep the recording rolling at all times. You can edit out any gaps after the fact. Rather edit out than wish you captured that magic moment!

Step 8: The Follow Up

We’ve now come to the final step of setting up successful podcast interviews, the follow up. A successful interview doesn’t end the moment you press stop on your recording and say good-bye to your guest. What happens after that is also important.

First part of the follow up is to send an email thanking your guest for their time. This is a great way to maintain the relationship and keep the door open for future opportunities.

But your follow up also extends to your promotion strategies for the episode in question. In your ‘thank you’ email, you should also let them know that you’ll be in contact again before the episode airs to share marketing material with them.

Send them all the links, images, audiograms, and any other marketing material you’ve created to promote the episode. They can then share these on their social media platforms, or embed links on their own blog or website, depending on what you had agreed upon before-hand.

Don’t neglect this step! It’s the one that will maintain the relationship and build your network!

In Conclusion

And that’s it! An easy to follow process for setting up amazing guest interviews. If you’re about to dive into your first ever interview on your podcast, let this guide take you from start to finish with as little stress as possible. Follow these tips, and your interviews will be a success! Not only for your audience and your podcast, but for your guests as well!

How do you set up your guest interviews? Share your process in the comments! We love to hear your tips and tricks and to share these with all the amazing podcasters out there.

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