In 2019, I remember aiming to be a guest on 12 podcasts. I’ve now done 60 guest podcast appearances. Here are my best tips for how to be a good podcast guest.
Follow this advice to stand the best chance of getting a podcast host’s attention and becoming a great guest for their audio or video show.
- Listen to past episodes
- Rate and review the podcast
- Supply a bio without being asked
- Suggest questions or topics you can cover
- Ask what the host wants
- Show evidence of what your voice sounds like
- Install the right software
- Get a microphone
- Set the scene well for video podcasts
- Be available on the day of recording
- Maximise your internet bandwidth while recording
- Be a good social sharer
- Thoughts from podcast hosts
- Let’s wrap up
Listen to past episodes.
The worst thing is when a guest tries to get on a show without doing their homework on what the show’s all about.
If you want to pitch to a podcast host, it’s important to have listened to at least a few episodes to get a feel for what their podcast is like – the length, style of interviewing, mystery questions and that sort of thing.
I’ve heard of some terrible cold pitches, usually done by people’s personal assistants (because they’re far too important and busy to get in touch directly?). More often than not, those are going to be rejected out of hand.
You’ll get extra brownie points if you can refer back to previous episodes and say something about what you’ve learned from the show.
Podcast hosts love people who’ve done their research.
Rate and review the podcast.
If you want to get on a podcast host’s radar, a great way to show that you’re invested in the content is to leave a rating and review of the podcast.
It helps the show to get in front of more people, and podcast hosts are always grateful when people take time to do this.
Even if you’re not a prospective guest for a show, do take time to rate and review the shows you like.
It might take a minute or two of your time for each show. Come on, you can do that.
I have a page that lists my recommended business podcasts and you’ll see my review text there for each one.
Supply a bio without being asked.
Podcast hosts will need to put together some promo material for sharing on social media when your episode goes live.
This often means supplying a photo and some text for them to mention in their posts and possibly during the intro to the interview.
To save myself time, I have a bio page on my website so that I can pass the relevant details on without the podcast host even having to ask for it.
Suggest questions or topics you can cover.
Don’t leave it for the podcast host to try to work out what’s on your agenda or what your strong suit is.
Suggest one or two topics to cover and perhaps some questions to go along with those topics.
If you want to become known for one thing, it’s good to set the agenda so long as doing so doesn’t ride roughshod over the podcast host’s plans.
Note that some hosts prefer to have a freeform chat with no set questions. If you’ve done your homework on past episodes, this should be apparent already.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to confirm this before you go ahead with agreeing to appear on the show.
If you prefer to be well prepared and in control of what you’re going to say, an unscripted chat might not be the right avenue for you.
Be careful with what you say yes to!
Ask what the host wants.
It’s not all about you as the guest. OK, the host has invited you on their show to add value to their audience, but they’re also trying to get something out of the exchange. Ask them what would work best for your interview.
Here are the thoughts of “Verifiably the FIRST EVER professional podcaster” (he says so himself on LinkedIn):
Ask the host what they want to take away from the conversation.
It’s a two-way transaction at the end of the day.
Both cooperating on the key takeaways will be mutually beneficial.
I’d maybe add: recommend potential further guests.
Chances are that the podcast guest has someone in their network that would also be a great guest!
Show evidence of what your voice sounds like.
If you’ve been on other shows, start building an audio portfolio on your site so that prospective podcast hosts can do their homework on you.
If you’ve never been on a podcast, a nice touch would be to send the podcast host you’re targeting a voice message.
That may give them a better impression of you and helps them imagine how you would sound on their show.
If you’ve been on more than a few podcasts already, you could start building a Spotify playlist of your past appearances. Here’s mine:
Playlists like these are a good way to help fans get straight to your content. They also help potential future podcast interviewers see what they’re getting when they invite you on their show.
Install the right software.
The great thing about being a guest on a podcast is that the host manages most of the techie stuff, while you usually just need to click a link to join the call.
If your interview is scheduled to take place via Zoom or some other tool, it’s best to ensure you have any relevant software installed and up to date.
If you’ve used this for other video calls before, there’s nothing extra you need to do for the podcast. The host will take care of the recording process.
Get a microphone.
You shouldn’t need any fancy kit but one thing I recommend is to have a separate microphone.
Even a cheap mic would be better than relying on your computer or laptop’s in-built mic.
If you already have headphones with a built-in mic, such as Apple AirPods, they’re a great option.
Set the scene well for video podcasts.
Most podcasts are recorded as audio only, so it shouldn’t matter if you haven’t had a shave or done your hair and makeup.
If the podcast host invites you to a Zoom call, check whether they intend to publish the video on their website, YouTube channel or on social media.
If they do, it’s best to make a bit of an effort. This will be a permanent record of your chat and so you don’t want to look like death or have a pile of dirty washing in the background.
Zoom lets you use a virtual background so that you don’t have to show people how pathetic your workspace really is.
To add a virtual background to Zoom:
- Open the Zoom desktop app’s preferences panel
- Click Background & Filters
- Click [+]
- Select a suitable image
The background image should have landscape dimensions. I suggest using a PNG or JPEG image of at least
This should allow you to produce a result that looks like this:
(Since first writing this blog, I’ve switched to using a natural background instead of a virtual one. You can see my current setup on my 1-to-1 consultation page.)
As per the advice for getting a microphone, I don’t recommend relying on an in-built webcam for video interviews.
I bought my Logitech H390 USB headset mic, which clips onto the top of my Mac, for under £30. It’s been more expensive than that but there are occasional price drops on Amazon. Check out my Tools page for the details.
Be available on the day of recording.
Put the podcast host at ease by getting in touch on the day of your interview, to confirm that you’re around and ready for your chat.
The host is relying on you to show up at the right time, so it doesn’t hurt to double-check timings, especially if you’re in different time zones.
If something comes up and you can’t make it, let them know as soon as you can.
Maximise your internet bandwidth while recording.
The quality of your video or audio will be reduced if your internet connection is weak.
While you’re talking to the podcast host, make sure nothing else is using up resources on your computer. That means quitting unnecessary apps while you’re not using them and also stopping any downloads or other streaming.
Be mindful of kids streaming movies or anything else data-intensive like that happening on your home network.
This could lead to choppy video or audio being transmitted to the podcast host, and that will mess up the experience for the audience.
If you start your pre-chat with the host on video but the podcast itself is going to be audio only, it’s usually best to turn off the video while you’re recording, to ensure you maintain the best possible quality.
Be a good social sharer.
If you get a guest slot on a podcast, it helps both the podcast host and you if you’re quick to spread the word about your interview on social media.
Likes, comments, retweets all help to build buzz about the episode and are good signs to other podcast hosts that perhaps you’d be a good guest for them, too.
Podcast hosts work hard to put their shows together, from finding guests and discussion topics to writing show notes and prepping promo material. Help them and they’ll be most grateful.
I can’t stress enough the idea of co-producing. It’s not the podcast host’s job to do everything.
I’d add go back and listen to your appearances and look for ways to improve – my first podcast I did lots of active listening words like in a conversation. All you could hear was uh-huh, mmm, yeah and it was annoying.
The conversation should be like a game of tennis. My turn your turn.
Thoughts from podcast hosts.
Doug recommends the Logitech H390 USB headset mic. He’s recorded a video with tips for podcast guests before he interviews them:
Here are the thoughts of marketing and sales expert, Vicki O’Neill, who hosts the excellent Connect the Dots podcast.
I interviewed 36 guests this year for my Connect the Dots podcast. The most engaging conversations were with guests who were familiar with the purpose, content and target audience of the show.
Being prepared by sharing nuggets of expertise that listeners can put into action right away is a great way to promote, engage listeners and expand audience reach.
It’s a win/win when the guest promotes their expertise to their audience after I’ve prepared show notes, audio and video formats.
Connect the Dots is one of many listed on my recommended business podcasts page. Bonus points for Vicki, as she’s interviewed me twice for the show.
Here are the thoughts of Alison Teare, host of the Simply Marketing Show:
I’ve been producing my weekly podcast The Simply Marketing Show for over a year now. By far the best guests are those who give there knowledge freely and are prepared to have fun!
To be a good guest, make sure you know the audience and talk to them specifically solving their problems so that your content resonates with them. Return your bio and image promptly and help the show host out by SHARING and continuing to share your episode with your audience in as many ways as possible.
Be generous – You might be invited back!
And here’s what Trisha Lewis, host of the Make It Real podcast, says:
I want guests to contact me themselves – not through an agent. Whilst there are exceptions, I just feel that I want to know the actual person is keen – and it is not just part of a PR strategy.
I also want to see real human language in the request – not a lot of buzzwords or showy-off stats about how great they are. I want humans with all their scars and stories.
Another thing to remember is to avoid verbal vomit (pardon the expression).
Deliver short, punchy, sound bites … not a long meandering, disjointed, or over-done monologue.
Don’t make it an infomercial! Think about how you provide value to that specific audience, not a promote-yourself-fest!
If you ever think of creating your own podcast, Billy’s PDF guide is unmissable.
Prepare some “goodies” for podcast listeners – something specific to that particular podcast audience such as an ebook, cheatsheet or checklist. You will be memorable.
Have a clear objective of why are you on the podcast. What is that you want to “get” from the podcast appearance?
Be polite to your podcast host and make sure that you say at least once “That is a very good question” (if you sincerely like the question).
Being interviewed is an art.
Let’s wrap up.
Being interviewed on a podcast will get you in front of a whole new audience, which could be highly valuable to your business if the right person is listening or watching.
Follow the tips above to stand the best chance of being a good podcast guest, and see where it takes you.
Want to know what mistakes podcasters and guests make? Check out these common podcasting mistakes.