In the world of podcasting, believe it or not, there is a strategy and certain etiquette when it comes to setting up guest interviews. This is especially true when you are first starting out and have yet to create a following or significant audience. One of the most rewarding things about podcasting is interviewing experts, and getting the opportunity to learn from the best in their fields. For each guest that you bring on, know that their time is valuable and the more efficient your process is, the better their experience will be.
Not sure where to start? Let’s go through the steps for setting up a guest interview for your very own podcast.
The first step is to reach out to influencers and potential guests that you would like to interview on your show. Send them a short, concise email letting them know who you are, a brief description of your podcast, stating that you would love to interview them and why. It is also a great idea to let them know what they will have a chance to talk about on the show, and perhaps send them a preview of past episodes so that they can get a feel for the content that you usually put out to your audience. Another great tip is to ask the potential guest if there are specific topics that they feel most comfortable talking about because when they are on their topic of choice you are sure to get the best quality content out of the interview.
Finally, an incentive is key! There has to be some form of give-and-take and providing these potential guests with extra motivation to come on board with your show is ultimately the cherry on top. Whether the promise is exposure to a new audience, promotion for their new book, or simply to spread their message, there should certainly be something in it for them. Now some guests may decline, but do not worry. Just because they say “no” now does not mean that their answer won’t change later on. Work hard to build your audience, and then return to these influencers at a later time. And who knows, perhaps they will even return to you.
For more tips on scheduling your next interview, read our post on 5 Tips to Help You Find Your Next Podcast Guest.
Once the invitation has been accepted, it is time to schedule a date and time for the interview to take place. This is an area where the most time can be wasted. With all the potential back-and-forths and waiting for replies, it can take weeks to schedule the interview. Taking a strategic scheduling approach is key at this point. The number one best way to ensure efficient scheduling is to try and reach the guest directly by phone. Do not be intimidated by this strategy, no matter who the guest. A straight phone conversation gives you the ability to get immediate responses, correlate your schedules, and pick a date with the appropriately allotted time.
However, if you cannot reach them by phone the next best option is to give them a list of dates and times to choose from that will best suit their schedule. Use scheduling software like Calendly, ScheduleOnce, Acuity Schedule, or others. This way you can set out dates that work for your schedule and your guests can simply pick a corresponding date that works for them as well, making the process as efficient as possible.
Before simply hopping on an interview call, it is always best to do your research. Top influencers are being interviewed on podcasts all the time, often being asked the same questions over and over again. So how can you make your interview with them stand out from the crowd? This is where intensive prep work and research comes in. Immerse yourself in their content, get familiar with their background, and dig a little deeper to find interesting points of conversation to include in your interview time. Your time with them is limited, so make the most of it by being well-prepared and well-versed in their work.
Next, make sure that they are all set with quality equipment, that they have a quiet space to record, and that they feel comfortable on a podcast. Often times, even with esteemed guest experts, they are new to the podcasting gig! Send over a few tips in order to make them feel as comfortable as possible. Make sure to confirm the time and date of the interview with them, and go over the finer details like signing a release form for any content that is created during the interview. Using a release allows you (and only you) to decide how your show is edited, distributed, and monetized.
The Interview Questions
Other than preparing yourself for the interview, it is important that you prepare your guest as well. This can make a world of a difference to the quality of interview you will get. A great idea is to send your guest the interview questions ahead of time to give them the opportunity to read through the topics and think through the potential answers they’d like to give. This way they are also able to make notes on extra bits of advice so they don’t forget to mention it during the heat of the interview. When they are prepared to answer your questions you can dedicate more time unpacking their answer and not letting that time go to waste.
Also, be sure to inform your guest of the general flow of your podcast and how you will be guiding them throughout. This will help them be prepared during the show for how things will progress and the estimated time it will take to complete. Preparation allows your guest to feel more comfortable, and can often lead to them revealing incredible nuggets of wisdom and experience as they share more freely.
The Quality Checks
One of the most devastating things to happen is realizing after the interview is over that you never actually pressed record. It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so you cannot afford to miss out on quality checks. Before the interview starts, record a short segment to test the quality of the sound and to make sure that everything is working in order. Next, check to see that all other devices are either turned off or on silent so they do not interrupt the interview. Quality is key, especially when it comes to audio content; when the baseline is working correctly the end product will be of much greater value.
When possible, it is also a great idea to try and schedule the guest interview as in in-person event. This is a great way to network/spend more time with your guest, really get to know them, and also assures that you are in the same environment for the best audio quality possible. However, since this is not always the case, some podcasters even go as far as sending their guests a starter package with a new microphone to ensure that they are ready and equipped to record a killer interview! It is also a great thank you gift, setting them up for future interviews to get their message out to even more audiences.
To find learn more about great podcasting gear, check out our article on Podcasting Gear You Need to Start Recording Today.
There are several ways to record your interview. Popular among the few are Zencastr and the old favorite, Skype. Recording Skype to Skype interviews creates a much higher audio recording than cell phones, land lines, and other call software because of it’s VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology. It is free to set up, and most guests will already have a Skype account. As for recording the actual call, for Mac users you can use eCamm Call Recorder, and Pamela for PC users.
Another great software is Zencastr, which is built to run right in your web browser. This makes it super easy to invite guests or record from anywhere with internet access. Zencastr also has a built-in VoIP so there is no need to use a third-party service like Skype or Google Hangouts and you can voice chat with your guests directly through Zencastr. Your recordings are delivered automatically to your Dropbox account for easy editing and sharing. Zencastr is free to set up for podcasters recording up to 8 hours of audio per month. They also have a paid plan for those requiring more recording time than average.
Recording tip: Make sure to capture as much of the conversation as possible, because you can always edit it out at a later stage. It’s better to capture more than you need than to be left wishing you had pressed record sooner.
The Follow Up
After your episode has been edited, processed, and scheduled to be published the next step is to set up a strategy for promotion. Do your guest justice by getting their interview out to as many ears as possible so that their time will have been well-spent. A couple of days before or on the day that your guest’s interview goes live send them a thank you email that includes a BIG thank you and a message or lesson that you personally took away from the interview with them. Accompanying your thank you email, you can also send them a “thank you gift” as a reminder of their time on your show, just to show how much you appreciate the value that they have added. Your appreciation will never be taken for granted, and it is a great way to continue a relationship with your guests for potential future collaborations.
Next, it is also important to follow up with your guest regarding specific episode details and an easy call to action so that they can share the episode out to their audience as well. Include the date and time that the interview will be published, a link to the episode show notes on your website, as well as a direct link to the podcast audio. This is especially great to have if your guest wishes to embed the audio into their own blog post or somewhere on their website. Make sure to also include your social media details so that your guest can tag you if they share their interview, plus a copy of the episode artwork and perhaps a few options of quote artwork that they can use to share across their social media. A week or two after the episode has gone live, and once your audience has had time to digest the content, gather up all the comments and emails that you receive from the interview and share this with your guest. There is no better reward than to see the positive impact you have made, so be sure to spread to good news!
For more ways to promote your podcast, check out our article on Seven Unconventional Ways to Market Your Podcast
And there you have it! You are officially ready to set up your very own podcast interview! Let us know if you have any other tips for setting up and pulling of a great interview in the comments below. We love to hear your input and share it with all the amazing podcasters out there.