Be My Guest: Making the Most of Guest Experts

Maximize Your Podcast with Expert Insights

Having a guest on your podcast is very useful to your audience. When you have an expert on the show, you get to mine their expertise on behalf of the listeners. They don’t even necessarily have to be renowned or a recognized expert, but just someone with specialized knowledge on the topic of your discussion.

When you host a guest on your podcast, you get to learn more about the topic. When you ask them questions, you can verify your point of view and/or dispel misconceptions you may have had. This kind of dialog fascinates the listener, and exposes them to more information than you likely would have discussed in a monolog. The fresh perspectives and insights your guest brings elevate the value of the time spent listening.

Mastering the Art of Guest Discovery

So how do you find good guests? There are a number of avenues where a really good guest may stand out to you.

You may see them on a TV show, hear them on a radio show or another podcast. In this case, you know they’re experienced in being a guest, which is useful. They know how to prepare themselves, and you can review their past performance to see if they’re lively or something of a dud. These kinds of guests can usually be contacted through their company or Public Relations Agent.

Searching news in your podcast’s realm online can reveal experts in a specific field. If a news organization or magazine considers someone to be a credible source, that’s a shortcut for you.

There are also directories of experts who want to guest on podcasts. Here are a few, though there are several others:

And don’t forget the value of simply asking others in your field who they recommend. You can even get interactive with your audience by asking them who they would like to hear on your podcast.

Another good source of future guests is past guests. Ask a guest who they would interview about your topic. They may be able to make an introduction you couldn’t get any other way.

Let’s Get Technical

Most potential guests likely aren’t in your town. And even if they are, it can be difficult to get someone to come to your studio to record a podcast with you.

But if you are in a city with plenty of potential expert guests, it may be worth it to invest in remote recording gear. Visiting a guest in their own environment can put them at ease. You also may discover things about them useful for the podcast from their home or office, such as their artwork, personal photos, or awards and degrees displayed. And if they’re in a specialized environment, there may be ambient sound that helps the listener feel like they’re in the middle of the action. (Imagine a NASCAR pit boss interviewed as the sound of race cars is in the background!) Just make sure your guest isn’t obscured by the background sound.

More often than not, you won’t be able to meet your guest in person. In that case, you can still be face-to-face through online services such as Zoom, Google Meet, or even Facebook’s Messenger service. I recommend using the video call feature in any of these rather than just voice, because you can learn a lot about how to ask questions just by observing your guest’s body language and reactions. And if you’re doing a video podcast, this is almost expected. Using any of these online call services will give you a solid, stable, near-studio-quality (compared to telephone) audio file.

The least-useful method, but still acceptable, is via telephone. If you go this route, you may need to prep the guest with guidelines. A landline is the gold standard, though many people no longer have one. If you must use cellphones, ask your guest to ensure that they’re in a quiet environment, not using a Bluetooth device, and not moving around the room (which can cause dropout).

Strategize to Maximize: Prepping for a Stellar Show

When you see a TV talk show, the guest appearance may be the first time the host and guest have met. But it isn’t the initial contact.

Someone on staff has pre-interviewed the guest to prepare both them and the host. In that pre-interview, they learned how long their segment was going to be, if there was a theme for the show, and generally what questions they would be expected to answer. The host would get wind of any interesting stories or anecdotes the guest had ready to tell, and may write down a question to trigger that story.

A caution about preparing for the show, though. You can reveal too much in advance and rob the audience of the fun that comes with spontaneity! We’ve all had the experience of hearing a good joke or story, then trying to get the person we heard it from to tell it to a wider audience. It doesn’t usually go well. Another danger is learning the answer to the questions, so you assume too much knowledge on the part of the listener. You want to walk the fine line between doing the interview “cold” and trying to recreate golden moments from the pre-interview.

Letting the guest know at the very least the general course you plan to take can help them relax and answer well. If there are breaks, let them know to expect them. If there are other guests (in a roundtable, for instance), let them know who they are in advance. And of course, if you’re doing a video podcast, let them know so they can consider their background and wear appropriate clothing.

It’s also important for your guest to know what kind of discussion you’re planning to have. Is it an open and freewheeling conversation? Maybe they’re there to make didactic points and teach your audience about some aspect of your topic. It could be that you have them on the show to verify facts. Perhaps you’re doing an interview to reveal their personality, such as with an entertainer. Or they could even be invited to debate either the host or another invited guest on a topic. If the guest has a good heads-up on your expectations ahead of time, they’ll be better prepared to be a good guest.

Elevating Your Guest: A Credential Spotlight

When introducing your guest on the podcast, it’s important to let the audience know why they’re there. This is called “qualifying the guest.” Are they the foremost expert in their field? How long have they spent studying the subject? Do they have a book on the topic? What is their pertinent education?

You don’t need to include their entire CV. But summing up their qualifications to speak on the topic by picking the most-appropriate credentials serves the double duty of elevating their status to the audience and making the guest feel comfortable without having to explain why their opinion should be valued. Any more than a sentence or two, though, and it tends to make the listener restless. You can reveal further qualifications as you go through the interview, if they’re relevant to the conversation.

The Art of the Memorable Farewell

As a matter of etiquette, leave some time to say goodbye to your guest. They may want to thank you for having them on the show, and may even want to include vital information they haven’t had the chance to reveal yet.

And ALWAYS give them the opportunity to promote themselves. They typically aren’t on your show just for their own ego, but to promote their business interests. Ask them where people can follow up, get more information, or even get in touch with them. They may want to give a phone number or website. Make sure those details make it into your show notes.

Sealing the Deal: The Post-Show Connection

Once the interview is concluded, be sure to let the guest know when the podcast episode is scheduled for release. And when that time is coming close, send them an email reminding them. Then, the day of the release, be sure to send them a link so they can share it on their social media channels. If you make video social media shorts, be sure to let them know so they can share those as well.

Just like meeting friends, interviewing guests is as much art as it is science. But following these simple guidelines will ensure a steady stream of experts that will help enhance your stature and enlarge your audience.

Ready to elevate your podcast with high-caliber guests? Don’t let another episode pass without tapping the power of expert insights. Contact us at Podcast Axis, and let’s transform your podcast from good to unforgettable!

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