When preparing for a podcast guest, you can do lots of things to help make the recording process and promotion of the episode easy and seamless for both of you.
Being a good host will make a huge difference in the caliber of guests you’re able to attract to your show and your episodes’ success and reach. Plus, many of the items you prep will only need to be done once and updated a few times a year.
Remember, your job as a host doesn’t end after the recording session is over. Prepping your podcast guest with all the information and content to promote their appearance will ensure you’re both getting the maximum benefit from the interview.
6 things you should provide your podcast guest before recording
1. Casual get to know you session
If you’ve never met your podcast guest or maybe only chatted on social media, offer to set up an informal meet and greet. This session could be as simple as a phone call or FaceTime and is guaranteed to result in a better interview.
Even a 15-minute phone call will add a valuable rapport to your conversation. As a listener, you know when the interviewer has done their homework. They ask better questions and can put the guest at ease, guiding them through the topic they’re discussing.
To make the most of this time with your upcoming guest, you could also send over items two through five in this list ahead of time so you could review those together. Then, item six could be taken care of at the end of your session.
2. Your show’s format details
Don’t assume your guest is familiar with your show’s format or concept (or that they’ve even listened to an episode before). You’ve asked them to be a guest on your show, so it’s up to you to make it successful and easy for them. Be the host(ess) with the most(ess). It will pay off with a successful episode and a guest who’s proud of the content and wants to share it with their audience.
The details you provide could be as simple as an outline of a standard episode or as detailed as a formal run of show for recording day. A run of show can be beneficial if you’re dealing with fitting into a guest’s limited schedule. The guest will know exactly what’s expected of them, and it will help you both stay on track.
3. Confirm their bio/intro
While not always the case, as the host, you usually introduce your podcast guest to the audience. First, it’s important to do your research and cater the bio to your audience’s interests. Your guest may even provide you with an intro (and it’s totally fine to ask them for one) that you can then re-work or edit to fit your show.
However you go about putting the intro together, you should run it by your guest to make sure they’re comfortable with what you’ve included. No one likes surprises.
Here’s a wonderful example of a guest intro by NPR’s Diane Rehm. In this episode of Diane Rehm On My Mind, she interviews New York Time’s columnist and author Charles Blow.
4. Prepped questions and topics
As you’re researching your guest (or the topic you’re planning the episode around), jot down potential questions you’d like to ask. Don’t skip on the basics, which are just as important as detailed questions because they’re the questions you’re most likely to forget.
Ask your guest to fill out brief answers for each question and denote any questions they’re not comfortable with. These answers will help you plan for your conversation and potentially help you write your intro and outline for the episode.
Prepping questions beforehand does multiple things:
- Helps you and your guest to prepare for the interview.
- Provides an opportunity for your guest to veto any topics or questions.
- Prompts the guest to suggest a topic or story that you hadn’t thought of.
- Gives you and your guest a basic outline for your time together
- Helps calm everyone’s nerves.
While prepping your questions and having a plan is very necessary, it’s also important to let the conversation flow naturally. Don’t get too caught up in trying to hit every question you planned on. If your guest goes down a rabbit hole, jump in with them and lead them back to the planned conversation when it feels right.
5. Tech details for recording
While interviewing your guest in your recording space where you have control over the environment and equipment is ideal, it’s not always possible.
Tell your guest exactly what to expect and how to prep for the recording session. Let them know what equipment you’ll be using and find out what sort of recording space and tech they’re working with to provide suggestions or better equipment if necessary.
If you use software like Zoom or Skype, make sure they have it downloaded and have practiced using it. You may even put together a video or PDF of how to set up for recording day that you could provide your guests.
6. Practice recording session
Setting up a practice recording session will lessen the chances of surprises when it’s time to record. This session will allow your guest to test out their equipment, familiarize themselves with their mic and recording space and allow you to hear the quality of the recording on both ends.
Sound quality can make or break an interview. Be sure to schedule your test far enough in advance to allow you and your guest enough time to remedy any issues that come up.
Also, always record your practice session. You never know when you might catch an interesting soundbite or story.
5 things you should provide your podcast guest post recording
1. Media Kit
If you don’t have a media kit for your podcast, stop reading this post and put one together. It’s fine to start with the basics and build it out over time. The point of your media kit is to remove any barriers for someone who wants to learn more about you, promote you and your work, or work with you (like your guest).
By providing your guest with a media kit, you’re giving them all the resources they need to promote your show and their appearance in one convenient place. You also gain a bit of control over what is shared, including logos or photos, contact information, and links.
This media kit from The Love and Luck Podcast is a great example that includes all the basics and extras like promo clips, videos, and testimonials. There’s also a super convenient way to download the whole kit at the top of the landing page. It’s a one-stop-shop for information about the show.
Things to include in your podcast media kit:
- Fact sheet
- Logos and podcast cover art (both .jpg and .png for print and online use)
- Bios and headshots of the host(s)
- Social media profiles
- Show publishing schedule
- A brief synopsis of your show
- Links to streaming services your show is listed on
- Links to any press releases you may have published
- Reviews or links to articles written about the show
- Promotional clips (these could be in audiogram form)
2. Episode publish date + your promo schedule
If not before, your guest should know the air date of their episode at the end of your recording session. Knowing this date ahead of time allows them to prep any of their own promotional materials and market the episode to their own audiences.
It’s also helpful to provide your planned promotional schedule to give them an idea of the types of ways you’ll be promoting the episode so they can match and play off of your promotion.
3. Suggested social media posts
Along with your promotional schedule, you could go as far as to draft social posts for your guest. Again, we’re working to remove all barriers to promotion. While they may not use them verbatim, your posts will serve as. a time-saving starting point for social media posting.
Take a look at their social media and create a few posts in line with their communication style. Be sure also to include any hashtags for your show or topic you’d like them to use.
4. Audiograms (give ’em options!)
If you don’t feel comfortable composting suggested social posts, no big deal, it’s certainly not for everyone. However, creating audiograms of your guest’s episode is a serious no-brainer.
If you’re new to Headliner and using video to promote your podcast, this post will walk you through the process and provide tips for creating your first audiogram.
Find poignant, funny, or moments where they particularly shine in the episode and create audiograms for both of you to share on social media. Use their headshot to up the engagement potential (our eyes are drawn to the human faces).
Here’s a great example from Tig Notaro’s podcast Don’t Ask Tig, featuring her guest actress Sarah Paulson.
5. Follow up communication
Leading up to the episode’s publish date, you should reach out to your guest to make sure they have everything they need to promote the show.
It’s a nice gesture that keeps the lines of communication open and serves as a little reminder of when the episode is coming out. Self-promotion doesn’t always come naturally to people, and your support and resources will likely be met with a lot of gratitude from your guest.
While these lists aren’t exhaustive, doing these 11 things will go a long way toward becoming a podcast host that people looking forward to working with. Your efforts will be rewarded with easier recording days and more mutual promotion from your podcast guests.