Being on a podcast — no matter how popular — can be nerve-wracking for an inexperienced guest. Your chest gets tight. You might forget to breathe. You start stumbling over your words. And the only people there are you and the host.
Although it sounds silly, it’s a very real feeling. Personally, pinot grigio from a box helped me through my first couple of podcast interviews. 🍷 But it doesn’t work for everybody.
How do you help a podcast guest feel more comfortable? For your nervous podcast guests, here are 10 steps to make them feel comfortable:
- Do a pre-interview.
- Send a prep doc.
- Offer examples of other interviews.
- Send a reminder message.
- Take care of the recording.
- Make them laugh.
- Let them know you’re on the same team.
- Tell them that they’re on your show for a good reason.
- Encourage authenticity.
- Let them know it’s normal to make mistakes.
Let’s get to it.
1. Do a Pre-Interview
This might be the biggest thing you can do to make your podcast guest feel more comfortable. That’s why it’s #1.
Especially for inexperienced podcast guests, it’s always good to do a pre-interview before the real one.
[READ: Interviewing an experienced podcast guest? Here are 10 ways to rock their socks.]
The Purpose of a Pre-Interview
The main objectives of a podcast pre-interview are to…
- Build rapport with the guest
- Create an outline for the actual interview
- Inform your guest of what they can expect on the day of the interview
The pre-interview plays a huge part in helping your guest feel more comfortable. They have the chance to interact with you, learn about the process, and determine what they’re going to talk about.
This approach puts the guest’s mind at ease because they know you’re not just going to throw them into the deep end.
How to Do a Pre-Interview
Conducting a pre-interview is pretty simple. The outcome should be an outline of your main talking points and a prepared guest.
Start with rapport: Make some small talk first. Get to know your guest on a more personal (not too personal) level. Offer some factoids about yourself and the show.
Transition into POV discovery: You want your guest to let their guard down, but you also want them to share their unique point of view. Use this list of questions that produce interesting answers. Uncover a perspective that guests in the past haven’t had.
Define the talking points: It’s good to nail down 3-5 main talking points with your guest. This can usually fill up a 20-30 minute podcast episode. It’s also a good idea to repeat these talking points back to the guest to make sure you both agree on them.
Tell them what to expect: After you determine the 3-5 talking points, let the guest know what they can expect on the day of the interview. Tell them whether or not you’d like their camera to be on. Give them some recording best practices and equipment advice.
Throughout the pre-interview, be as helpful and informative as possible. Do your best to earn your guest’s trust.
2. Send a Prep Doc
After the pre-interview, send your guest a prep doc outlining the main talking points for the interview.
Also, include any other information they might want to have.
- Link to the conference call
- Date and time of the interview
- Your name
- Equipment recommendations
- Video setup recommendations
- Phone number to call in case of technical difficulties
The prep doc is also a good spot to link to examples of past interviews.
3. Offer Examples
Some people learn better from watching other people do it first. That’s why offering an example or two of what you’re looking for can be super helpful.
Link to videos or past episodes in the prep doc to give your guest some guidance. They’ll also be able to see how good you make your interviewees look.
4. Send a Reminder Message
A quick reminder message 1-2 days before the interview lets the guest know you didn’t forget about them. It can be reassuring to get even an automated message before the interview.
Let the guest know that the interview is on and you’re looking forward to your conversation.
5. Take Care of the Recording
The guest shouldn’t have to worry about any of the recording components. It’s your job to have the recording software all cued up on your end.
They should, however, do a soundcheck on their end to make sure you can hear each other.
We suggest using a tool like Riverside.fm to record your interviews. It’s user-friendly for both parties and records in excellent quality.
6. Make Them Laugh
Hopefully, you’ve built up a little rapport by now. But it always helps to talk about something lighthearted before the interview. Better yet, something funny.
Tell them about something that happened to you that day or a funny anecdote. Or, just show them this video.
7. You’re On the Same Team
A podcast interview can sometimes feel like a job interview.
With first-time podcast guests, there’s a bit of a boss-employee dynamic. You’re the one who’s done this before, so you’re in charge. The guest feels like they have to somehow impress you or prove themselves to you.
This is when you need to let them know that you’re both on the same team. There’s no pressure to impress anyone, least of all the host. Plus, they’ve already proved that they’re worthy of being a guest because you booked them on the show.
8. They’re On Your Show for a Reason
You didn’t start a podcast hoping that you’d get the chance to trick people or make them look stupid. You started it because you want you and your guests to look intelligent and professional. That means you have some skin in the game too.
[READ: Wanna book more guests? Here’s how to do it (w/ a proven pitch template).]
You want your guest to look like an expert because it reflects on you. So, they should know that you booked them for a reason. They have an important message to share and they don’t have to prove to anybody that they deserve to be on your show.
There was a reason you scheduled them for your podcast. Share that reason with them to help calm any nerves.
9. Encourage Authenticity
No one needs to perform. Especially on a B2B podcast, it’s better if both host and guest are authentic and natural sounding.
People listen to B2B shows to be informed — not to be entertained. There are other podcasts for that.
While, as the host, you should try to make your show engaging, it’s really about the content. It’s not about having the funniest one-liners or switching from segment to segment. In the end, listeners want to learn something that will improve their work or their lives.
They aren’t listening to your show to hear a performance. So, guests shouldn’t feel like they need to be or do anything they wouldn’t in a normal conversation.
10. It’s Normal to Make Mistakes
You’re not recording a live show — nothing’s permanent.
If your guest misspeaks or needs to take a second to think, they need to know that they can always restart an answer. Have them take a pause and start again.
Even podcast hosts make mistakes. That’s why there’s editing.
Relaxed Guests Make for Great Content
The more comfortable your guest feels with you, the better the content is. But if pinot grigio isn’t an option, these 10 things should help your guest feel more relaxed.