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A Must-Read Guide on Building Long-Term Relationships with Podcast Guests

May 22, 2024 Deciphr AI
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You've just wrapped up an interview in your studio. The room's quiet, save for the hum of your computer. You had a plan for how things were supposed to go. 

But things took a turn. 

Your guest went rogue, diving into topics you hadn't prepped for—and now you're left wondering: "How the heck did we get here?"

Podcasting is like a dance between you and your guest. When in sync, it's electric.

But when someone misses a step? It can throw the whole performance off.

Despite thorough preparation, interviews can go sideways with a misplaced comment or unexpected topic.

However, there’s a key to avoiding this: a game plan. Know how to steer things back on track, handle hiccups, and keep the conversation flowing. 

Here’s everything you need to know about podcast guest management.

  • Mastering the art of podcast guest management
  • Building authentic rapport pre-recording
  • A step-by-step guide to mastering the interview
  • Post-interview etiquette for podcasters
  • Building lasting relationships
  • Conflict management in podcasting

Mastering the Art of Podcast Guest Management

For seasoned podcasters, the relationship with a guest is paramount, and setting the stage right can make all the difference. 

Let's dive into how to manage this relationship effectively.

Send a Pre-Interview Survey

Before you even think about hitting that record button, you need to understand who's sitting across from you, whether in person or on a Zoom call.

A pre-interview survey does more than just scratch the surface. It dives deep into the guest's comfort zones, their no-go zones, and the stories they're eager to share. It's not about putting them in a box; it's about ensuring they feel heard and respected from the get-go.

Research Guest Background

Ever hear an episode where a guest referenced their groundbreaking research, and the host drew a blank? Yeah… yikes. 

To avoid these cringe-worthy moments that will have you grimacing years—or even decades from now—it's crucial to immerse yourself in your guest's world. Explore their previous interviews, read their publications, and even take a deep dive into their Twitter threads. 

Provide a Clear Brief

Guests should know the interview's structure in advance.

By sharing the episode's roadmap (mainly its format, duration, and key discussion points), you're setting up your guest for success.

Establish Availability Windows

We've all felt the frustration of back-and-forth emails trying to pin down a time. 

Instead of playing calendar Tetris, offer your guest specific scheduling options. This approach acknowledges that, just like you, their time is packed with recordings, edits, and content planning.

Communicate Tone and Goals

Your podcast has a unique style and tone. Whether it's the casual banter of "The Joe Rogan Experience" or the in-depth analysis of "How I Built This," every show has its vibe. Clarify yours. 

It's more than just setting a tone; it's about ensuring your guest's voice harmonizes with yours.

Outline Sensitive Topics to Avoid

In the podcasting realm, where conversations flow freely, it's easy to tread into sensitive territories. While spontaneity adds flavor, it's essential to recognize and respect boundaries. 

By outlining potential landmines, you ensure the conversation remains respectful for both you and your guest.

Managing guest relationships is an art. By setting clear expectations and ensuring open communication, you lay the foundation for a lasting relationship. 

Building Authentic Rapport 

In modern podcasting, it’s not just about the content but also about the connection. The relationship between the host and the guest is paramount.

And that connection? 

It starts way before the recording light goes on. Here’s how you build it.

Make Initial Outreach

When you reach out to a potential guest, remember that you're laying the foundation for a relationship. 

Think about it: you're asking someone to share their insights, their stories, and often, their vulnerabilities with your audience. 

That's a big ask. 

So, your initial outreach shouldn't just be a cold, templated invitation—personalize it instead. Mention that specific episode where they touched on a topic that resonated with you. Talk about how their perspective aligns with your podcast's ethos. 

This approach not only increases the chances of a 'yes' but also sets a tone of mutual respect and understanding.

Have A Casual Pre-Interview Chat

It's tempting to dive straight into the meaty topics, especially when time is of the essence—but resist that urge. 

Start with a casual conversation: maybe they recently tweeted about a book they're reading or posted a vacation photo on Instagram. Bring that up. This relaxed chat serves a dual purpose by easing any potential nervousness and giving you a glimpse into their personality. 

It's these nuances, these off-the-cuff remarks that can add depth to your actual interview. Remember, your audience can sense authenticity, and these genuine moments can be podcast gold.

Find Common Interests and Experiences

As podcasters, we know the power of a relatable story. It's what makes listeners nod along or send that appreciative message post-episode. 

So, when prepping for your interview, dig a little deeper. Maybe you both started your careers in completely different industries, or perhaps you both are avid fans of 90s rock music. 

These commonalities, no matter how trivial they might seem, can be the bridge between a standard Q&A session and a memorable conversation. 

It's these shared interests and experiences that make your guest more relatable to your audience, transforming them from a distant expert to someone they feel they know.

In the end, podcasting is about great connections and these connections are forged long before you hit the record button. 

By personalizing your outreach, having genuine pre-interview chats, and finding common ground, you're not just preparing for an episode—you're crafting an experience that resonates, lingers, and most importantly, builds trust with your audience. 

Because in a world filled with content, trust is the true currency.

A Step-by-Step to Mastering a Podcast Interview

For seasoned podcasters, the magic is in the details.

Let's dive into the granular aspects of ensuring a smooth interview process.

Send Reminders and Guidelines

You've scheduled an interview, and as the day approaches, the anxiety of potential no-shows looms. 

A simple reminder a day prior can be the difference between a successful recording and a rescheduled mess. Guests can forget things, so it helps to give ‘em a little nudge. Share updated guidelines, especially if they've changed since the initial outreach to align expectations with your guest.

Test Equipment and Connections

Nothing screams amateur like poor audio quality or a dropped connection mid-sentence. 

Each glitch or static moment erodes listener trust. By testing your equipment and ensuring a stable connection, you're not just avoiding technical blunders; you're conveying a level of professionalism that tells your audience, "I value your time."

Brief on Flow and Transitions

An interview without a clear roadmap can quickly turn into a meandering conversation with no real takeaway. 

Share the interview structure with your guest in advance. Clarify transitions, like moving from their early life to current projects, to avoid on-the-spot confusion. This won’t just help with avoiding awkward silences, but also set the stage for crafting a narrative that keeps your audience engaged and invested.

Have Backup Questions Ready

Every podcaster encounters moments when conversations stall, guests give brief answers, or topics fall flat.

This is where backup questions come into play. They're your safety net, ensuring the conversation keeps flowing. It's not just about avoiding dead air; it's about being prepared to pivot and guide the conversation in a direction that provides value to your listeners.

Adjust Approach Based on Guest Cues

Honing the skill of 'reading the room', even virtually, is crucial for podcasters.

If your guest is leaning away from the mic, perhaps they're uncomfortable. But if their eyes light up discussing a particular topic, maybe it's worth exploring further. 

Adjusting your approach based on these cues isn't just about being adaptable; it's about creating an environment where your guest feels heard and valued.

In podcasting, preparation is as crucial as the conversation itself. By ensuring a smooth interview process, you're not only respecting your guest's time but also delivering content that your audience will appreciate and trust. 

Post-Interview Etiquette for Podcasters

The end of an interview doesn't signify the end of your interaction. Rather, it marks a transition from on-air relationship to the off-air rapport. And this phase—which is often overlooked, by the way (so don’t make the same mistake)—is often the linchpin in determining whether your guest becomes a one-time participant or a long-term collaborator.

If you want to solidify your guest’s post-show high note well enough to build a long-lasting relationship, here are a few tips worth putting into practice.

Tip #1: Send a Thank You Note

Let's start with the basics. Once the mics are off and the episode’s in post-production, take a moment to send a personalized thank you note to your guest. 

Now, this isn't just about ticking a box in the 'good manners' column. It's an acknowledgment of the value they brought to your platform. Remember, they've not only shared their insights but also their time—a commodity that's in short supply for many. 

By expressing gratitude, you're reinforcing the idea that their contribution was significant and valued. It's a small gesture, but one that lays the foundation for a lasting relationship.

Tip #2: Share the Published Episode

When your episode finally hits the airwaves, it's as much your guest's moment as it is yours.

Sharing the published episode with them is more than a mere notification. It's an invitation for them to relive the conversation and share it within their circles. By doing this, you're not just seeking to amplify the episode's reach. 

You're offering them a platform, a voice, and a sense of shared ownership—a subtle nod to the collaborative nature of podcasting, where both host and guest play pivotal roles.

(And if you want to share with style? Upload your episode on Deciphr AI and you’ll get a content suite that’s packed with engaging material to show the world like full-length articles, audiograms, and video reels.) 

Tip #3: Provide a Transcript Upon Request

In the age of accessibility, providing a transcript isn't just a nice-to-have; it's often expected. 

But beyond the obvious benefits for those with hearing impairments, transcripts offer guests a tangible record of their conversation: it's a tool for them to reference, quote, and even repurpose for their content. 

By offering a transcript, you're not just ticking an accessibility box. You're giving your guest a versatile resource that they can use in myriad ways, from blog posts to social media snippets. It's a value-add that underscores your commitment to making the podcasting experience beneficial for all involved.

(If you want to have an easier time generating a high-quality transcript out of your episode in a matter of minutes, don’t worry—Deciphr AI’s transcription has you covered.)

The steps you take after the music stops are just as crucial as the ones performed in the spotlight. By refining your post-interview etiquette, you're strategically nurturing relationships, expanding your reach, and enhancing the overall podcasting experience for both you and your guests. 

Remember, in this industry, it's the subtle gestures often resonate most loudly—so use them to your advantage.

Building Lasting Guest Relationships

The bond between the host and the guest is like a delicate tapestry, woven over time.

It's not merely a one-off interaction but a potential long-term relationship that can bring immense value to both parties and the listeners. Here's how to cultivate and maintain that bond.

Continue Engaging on Social Media

The dialogue shouldn't end post-interview.

Podcasters understand the power of social media in amplifying content and building their brand. But it's more than just a promotional tool. Engaging with your guest on platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn can solidify the bond you've initiated. 

Once you start sharing their content or acknowledging their recent achievements, you're not only expanding your network but genuinely investing in the relationship you have with them. 

Invite Them Back as a Recurring Guest

Every podcaster knows the magic of an episode that just clicks. When the conversation flows naturally, and the chemistry between the host and guest is palpable, it's a sign. Instead of letting that synergy be a one-time event, consider inviting them back. 

Whether it's for a special segment, a follow-up episode, or even as a recurring guest, this move can offer fresh perspectives and deepen the rapport. 

Check-in Periodically with Updates

The podcasting landscape is ever-evolving. New formats emerge, content strategies pivot, and milestones are hit. Keep your past guests in the loop about these developments. 

It's not merely an update, but an invitation for them to be a part of your podcast's journey. If you’ve adopted a new recording software that enhances audio quality or you're celebrating a significant number of downloads, sharing these moments can reignite their interest and potentially lead to more collaborations.

Look for Collaboration Opportunities

Opportunities for collaboration are everywhere, and they're not limited to just another episode—so think outside the box. 

Could you and your guest co-host a webinar, shedding light on podcasting techniques? 

Maybe they could contribute a guest post to your blog. Or perhaps, a live podcasting event or panel discussion? 

These collaborations not only deepen the partnership but also provide fresh content for your audience.

The journey of podcasting is filled with countless interactions, but the relationships you nurture along the way are what truly define the experience. 

Once you start actively engaging, revisiting synergies, updating guests on your journey, and seeking diverse collaboration opportunities, you can ensure that every handshake, virtual or otherwise, leaves a lasting imprint.

Conflict Management in Podcasting

Podcasting, like any other form of media, isn't immune to conflicts and issues. With so many  diverse voices and opinions, disagreements or misunderstandings will inevitably arise. 

How podcasters handle conflict can make or break their reputation, not just with their guests but with their audience as well.

Discuss Problems Calmly

Every podcaster dreads when a conversation goes south.

Maybe it's a technical glitch, a miscommunication, or a topic that hits a nerve. When this happens, the immediate reaction might be to get defensive or to gloss over the issue. But the seasoned podcaster understands the value of pausing, taking a deep breath, and addressing the problem head-on. 

By actively listening, you're not just seeking to resolve the current issue but also aiming to prevent similar hiccups in the future. This will help you address the root cause and ensure a smoother podcasting journey ahead.

Apologize If Appropriate

If you were in the wrong, apologize.

Missteps are bound to happen—whether it's an unintentional comment that offends a guest or a factual error that slips through—but taking accountability is crucial. An apology isn't a sign of weakness, but a testament to your integrity.

By acknowledging the mistake and making amends, you're sending a clear message to your guest and audience: you value truth and transparency. It's a gesture that can turn a negative situation into an opportunity for growth and connection.

Reflect on the Screening Process

Preparation is key for seasoned podcasters.

From researching guests to planning the episode's flow, a lot goes into ensuring a successful podcast episode. However, even with the most meticulous preparation, things can go awry. 

And when they do, it's essential to take a step back and evaluate your screening process by answering questions like:

Did I miss any red flags during the pre-interview phase?

Were there any gaps in my research?

As soon as you start critically assessing your methods, you can identify areas for improvement. This reflection isn't about dwelling on past mistakes but about refining your approach to ensure more seamless interactions in the future.

When it comes to podcasting, conflicts are par for the course. 

But with the right approach, they can be transformed into opportunities for growth, learning, and deeper connection. 

Final Words

In today's digital age, where content is abundant and attention spans are fleeting, the true essence of a successful podcast goes beyond mere topics and discussions. It delves deeper, touching the very core of human connection and interaction.

Beyond logistics, the heart of podcasting is empathy.

A touch of empathy, understanding, and genuine interest in the guest's story can transform a regular interview into a heartfelt conversation. It's this authenticity that both guests and listeners gravitate towards, seeking not just information, but also a connection and a sense of belonging.