How do you find guests whose presence can be of value to your podcast? And how to invite guests to an interview once you have identified them? Great guests may be busy, over-booked, or focused on other work. Let’s deep dive into how to make the process of inviting guests seamless, and find the best guests for your audience.
Podcasters experiment with different formats to make their content more appealing and engaging. One of the tried and tested format is to have guests at the show. Audiences tend to see videos and social media content as commercial but have implicit trust in the words of the podcaster. The presence of guests can further cement their faith and loyalty to the podcast series.
Inviting guests for podcast episodes is a win-win for both parties.
The podcaster gets additional content, new insights, and often new listeners for the podcast. The guest gets featured on a public forum and can make the episode a part of their testimonial.
Start by Shortlisting Guests
Before you chalk a plan on how to invite guests to an interview, you will have to identify people with something interesting and valuable to share with the listeners. Their credentials and experience should be related to your podcast theme- their presence should not sound forced. I have a few tips that will help you make a list of potential candidates-
1. Identify experts
Start by making a list of experts whose presence can be of value to your podcast. Now the question arises: how to identify an expert?
It is easy to search to draw up a list with the help of a few online and offline tricks:
- Identify achievers and path-breakers through business publications like Forbes’ list.
- Use LinkedIn to search individuals of a specific profession. With LinkedIn, you can also do a location-specific search and identify professionals in your vicinity.
- Ask your previous guests for recommendations and contacts.
- Look amongst your clients and customers – your professional contacts. If your podcast niche is related to your work or business, it is an easy way to find reliable candidates.
- Attend networking events that may be online and offline.
Go for a mix and variety of people: experts who are highly active online and those who are not, corporate leaders and small entrepreneurs, etc. Listeners would appreciate the diversity as they would like to listen from highly-accomplished individuals as well as people who are more like them.
For instance, if you are running a science podcast, you can reach out to leading scientists or published science authors or connect with science professors in your community college. My point is that you can approach famous personalities or working professionals, as long as their expertise aligns with your podcast.
2. Ask your listeners
There is a limited number of people you can think of on your own. However, there is one easy way to draw a list of potential guests that will include people beyond your knowledge. Ask listeners to suggest who should get featured on your podcast.
It will help you widen the net and increase your engagement with your audience. While this is an easy solution for those thinking about how to invite guests to an interview, the listeners, too, will feel happy and promote your show their suggestion actually gets featured.
3. Ask other podcasters
You might personally know other podcasters. Also, content creators like podcasters and bloggers are pretty responsive online. If you have listened to a podcast and want the same guest to come to your show, you may ask the podcaster.
You can also have other podcasters as your guest. They are experienced, they are likely to have expertise other than podcasting, and they are likely to consent as they have once been in your place.
4. Invite your listeners
Listeners are the folks who ultimately make your podcast successful by investing their time in your work. If a podcast directory features your work or advertisers want to pay you for a time slot, the credit also goes to your podcast fans.
If you have been wondering how to invite guests to a podcast, consider returning some love to your listeners. Ask them if they have a story worth sharing.
Share an email where they can pitch themselves as a potential guest. If listeners relate to your podcast, you are likely to get many requests.
5. Matchmaking services
Are you clueless about how to invite guests to an interview? Just like you want guests for a podcast, many folks want to get featured on a podcast.
They don’t know how to approach podcasters and get interviewed. There are services like Podcast Guest, Interview Valet, etc. which provide a platform for these two sets of people to connect. Using them, you can find search and approach individuals whose presence would benefit your podcast.
Reaching Out to Guest
If you want to learn how to invite guests to an interview, make a convincing pitch by following these tips:
1. Make a list of contacts of all potential guests
It would be time-consuming and ineffective to send random emails or call people out of the blue. Instead, first, make a list of all the contact details. You can compile all the details in an Excel sheet, and fix a day of the week for pitching.
2. Emails, the best way to pitch
If you are thinking about how to invite guests to an interview, do remember that the most effective first step is through emails. If you contact someone for the first time, sending an email is a very professional way to do so.
You may think that your potential guests may not pay attention to the mail. However, they are more likely to doubt you if you contact them any other way – say a text message or over social media.
If you write an effective email, it’s the best way to put forward your argument and convince the other person. You must write a concise mail. The receiver won’t have the patience to read a thousand words of fluff.
Preparing your pitching mail using those tips:
- A ‘to-the-point’ subject line – This will prompt the receiver to open the mail.
- Addressing the person with their first name – A mail that jumps straight to the matter seems too commercial. When it starts with a ‘Dear John,’ the person is more likely to pay attention to it. You can have the same body of text that will go to all the mail receivers, but modify a few lines to make it appear that you wrote it down specifically for the person who is reading it.
- Disclose the subject – Let them know that the mail is regarding a genuine chance to be a part of your podcast. This will keep the person interested and encourage them to read more.
- Introduce your podcast – Give a brief introduction – theme, idea for a podcast and aim of your show, a few stats regarding the number of listeners and downloads, and the names of a few previous guests.
- Tell them why you think of them as a suitable guest – Why do you think they should appear on your show? This is where you need to strike a chord and convince them.
- How will they benefit from it – If getting featured can help them get more clients for their business or sell more products, or increase viewership of their website, point it out.
- What they will have to give – Ask for their time and wisdom. Point out it won’t be too long, and they don’t have to prepare much in advance. If you have seen a video of them or read anything they have written, and you more or less want the same content, let them know straight away.
- Maintain a readable format– Paragraphs should not be of more than 2 to 3 lines. Avoid fancy, hard to read fonts. You want the person to read till the end, ideally, in a minute or two, to increase a chance of capturing full attention. With long mails, people may decide it’s too long or get distracted while reading.
3. Follow them on social media
Get their email through social media or messenger, and mail the actual pitch. Sending direct messages on social media should be the last attempt because it comes across as desperate and unprofessional.
The best thing to do in this space is to follow them for a while and get to know them through their tweets, posts, etc. Once you are familiar with their online persona and their ideas, it will be easier to pitch and develop a rapport with them.
Approaching them on social media could work if you first interact with them by getting into a short discussion and exchange. When you then invite them for an interview, there is a higher chance they will say yes.
4. Offline networking
There is a reason that business cards never go out of fashion. Get one with your name, podcast name, and contact details/ social media handles printed on it.
At the end of the day, you may or may not remember the people you saw online. However, you will remember a person you have met in real life for a longer time. So don’t leave a chance to connect with potential individuals if you come across them in-person. Exchange cards with potential contacts in offline events, meet-ups, etc. You can also ask a mutual friend to put in a good word.
Making a Stronger Point
If you want to know how to invite guests to an interview, just remember that you need to approach people consistently by:
1. Sending reminder emails
If they haven’t replied to your first mail. Send another one after a week. Don’t bombard them with emails every day.
Don’t take a lack of reply too personally. People are busy, on holidays, they might have gotten distracted while reading your mail. In many cases, you will need to send a reminder mail.
2. Reading them up
Learn more about the guest if the conversation is going in a positive direction. The guest should not feel that he is one amongst the many whom you have pitched. The more genuine your interest seems in inviting them over, the more likely they are to say yes.
3. Getting connected
If the prospective guest has expressed interest and replied to your mail, ask them for contact details and schedule a call. Keep it brief and explain the purpose. And do tell them the interview won’t take much of their time or energy.
4. Taking follow-up
If the person says he or she will confirm later, follow up on it. They might get genuinely busy and forget – a gentle reminder could actually get you a yes!
5. Clarifying the tech stuff
Some of these guests may not be tech-savvy. This might make them reluctant. Let them know the interview will be a simple phone call or a video chat, and won’t take much time. You can guide them on connecting with you on Skype or Zoom if you intend to video call.
If they have a more advanced setup, you can discuss what gear they use and if they have an optimal setup for their mic.
Scheduling the Interview
1. Take confirmation
If they are inclined to say yes, seal the deal by asking for an appointment. Do it fast, a commitment like that will make it more likely that an interview will not get postponed or delayed by other events.
2. Scheduling time
Get into an agreement regarding the time. If they are working professionals avoid peak business hours. Give them the flexibility to choose. For a given week, ask or share three-four time slots so that they can pick one that suits them.
If your guest is overseas, be mindful of the time difference between two locations.
3. Share meeting links
For video calls (if needed). If you used the video calls for video podcasting, inform your guests beforehand.
Highlight if you are planning to publish your interview also in a video format on YouTube. You can even share good tips on how to look best in front of the camera. If they look great, they will also like the video to be seen by many people and are more likely to share and promote it.
4. Share your audience profile
You are worried about how to invite guests to an interview. Likewise, a guest is concerned about how to do best at a podcast interview.
Make it easy for your guests by letting them know who your audience is. It would help them to come up with relevant answers. Create a shorter version of your podcasting persona profile, to help them get an idea but not to overwhelm them with too many details that might not be relevant for an interview.
5. Share questions beforehand
It would be better if they prepare specific answers in advance. The guests would sound confident, and you would get the kind of response that listeners would appreciate. Also, take feedback on the questions. Your guests can let you know if you are missing any crucial points.
6. For the actual interview
- Join them on time.
- Be patient if they have connectivity issues or technical challenges.
- Calmly ask questions, don’t unnerve them.
- Unforeseen circumstances might call for rescheduling, if this happens, be in touch with and reschedule for later, don’t sound rude.
These are my few tried and tested tips on how to invite guests to an interview. However, your connection with your guest should not end here. Instead, you should express your gratitude and stay connected after the interview.
Here are a few ways to do so.
After the Interview
What you will do after an interview may bring you a lot of marketing opportunities and help you to grow your podcast faster.
- Send a Thank you note – Podcasters who sell merchandise can send a small gift to their guest. Some guests will post a picture of their gifts on social media providing you with additional marketing and exposure in front of their fans.
- Ask them for referrals – If they know of a credible person who can be a great guest for the show, ask them for a referral. If they had a good experience during an interview, they are likely to recommend you to their friends.
- Stay connected – Follow them on LinkedIn, other social media. Ask them to subscribe to your podcast, and follow the social media handles. If they interact with you on social media, their fans will see that, and again you will get marketing benefits.
The guests will surely have good things to say about you, which will prompt more people to approach you to get interviewed.
The whole process of inviting a guest to your podcast should be well planned and carefully executed. In some cases, you will write a short mail and get a quick yes. In other, you might need to approach a potential guest more deliberately.
The 3 key points you need to remember when thinking about how to invite guests to an interview on your podcast are:
- Guest selection – make it good fir for your audience. Think that if you spend time talking to one person, you won’t have time to talk to someone else. Make sure you work in the best interest of your listeners.
- A good pitch – first impression can often be deciding factor if someone will agree to and then finalize the interview with you. Spend some time crafting a short but compelling pitch email.
- Follow-ups – people are busy, so always follow-up if you won’t get a reply. Remind them also a few days before an interview that it is coming up. Also, stay in touch post-interview.
These were my thoughts on approaching guests for a podcast interview. If you have different ideas on how to invite guests to a meeting, share them with us!
What is your best hack you use when inviting a guest to a podcast interview?