How to be a guest on a podcast: 5 tips for being a memorable podcast guest

Two podcast microphones sitting in folding chairs talking on smaller podcast microphones

One of the most powerful growth tools in your podcast toolbelt is you. If you’re a podcaster, you’re an expert in something. If you interview others, you’re a journalist. If you have an audio drama, you are an expert in narrative fiction. If your podcast is niche, you are an expert in that niche. 

I often talk about how important it is to get yourself in front of other podcast listeners. If you’re promoting your work on social media, in print or even on The New York Times, you’re reaching a huge audience that might not listen to podcasts. In fact, they probably don’t, and getting them to try a whole new medium just to hear your show is an uphill battle. But podcast nuts will always add something to their listening list, so if you can get interviewed on another show, it’s likely the listeners of that show will follow you over to yours. 

If you do a good job, that is. Here’s how.

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Step 1: Identify the right podcasts to pitch

If you’re a podcaster, you’ve probably received your fair share of terrible pitch letters — people who aren’t a good fit at all. Unfortunately, PR people love to pitch-blast podcasts without doing much research. Don’t let this be you. Make sure to use Rephonic's Podcast Audience Graph, search Listen Notes, and check the “You Might Also Like” section of Apple Podcasts to identify shows that you could speak to. 

Look at each one and think: what could I share with this audience? You’ll have to listen to the shows and see what kind of guests they have and what those conversations are like. If you find yourself raising your hand while listening and saying, “I can speak to that!” you’ve found a good match. 

Read more: Podcast promotion 101: Find partners to work with

Step 2: Send them your pitch letter

The beginning of your pitch letter should be only a few sentences long. You just need your podcast friend to open the door. Explain how much you love their show, and why you’d be a good guest. Mention how much you liked the episode you listened to. Sign the email with a note that says “see more below” and underneath induce your photo, a photo of your podcast’s show art (or book, if you’re an author) and a brief description of your show. Then add 5 bullet points of things you’d talk about. 

BONUS: To sweeten the deal, you could also offer to have your podcast friend on your show. If that’s not a possibility, mention that you’d be excited to share the episode with your audience, and ask if they’ll be making any promotional assets. This will be a wink to the host and producer that you’re willing to spread the word, something not all guests do. Then, make sure you follow through with your promise and share on your social channels or in your newsletter. 

Your subject line should be super catchy and personal. (Don’t make it look like a blast!) I always like to make my subject lines an example of what the episode title could be. For example, when I pitch Laura Cathcart Robbins, host of The Only One in the Room, my subject line is: Carmen Rita Wong is the only one in the room who grew up believing a lie. (You can listen to the episode here.) If you’re pitching Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, the subject line can be: What The Heck is Up with Internet Misinformation? An interview with Bridget Todd. That follows the format of all of Jonathan’s episodes and the vibe of his show.

Step 3: Listen

Once they’ve said yes (congratulations!) you need to go deep listening to the show. You don’t want to be surprised by the tone or the format, and you don’t want to be unprepared for a segment. You want it to seem like you’re a listener of the podcast. And you should be one! While you’re listening, make notes about any questions you might have for the host. They want you to have a great appearance, too, so they’ll be happy to help. But they won’t want any last-minute questions that could throw the episode off. 

Step 4: Guest right

Be authentic: Authenticity is the secret ingredient that makes podcast interviews truly memorable. Be yourself, as listeners can sense when someone is genuine. Don't be afraid to show vulnerability, express your passions, or even share some well-placed humor. Authenticity not only helps build rapport with the host but also creates a lasting impression on the audience, increasing the chances of them seeking out more of your work.

Listen, engage, and respect: Remember that podcasting is a two-way conversation. Listen attentively to the host's questions and engage in active dialogue. Avoid dominating the conversation or going off on tangents. Instead, take the time to respond thoughtfully, offering concise and insightful answers. Respect differing opinions, and be open to constructive criticism or feedback. Remember, the podcast is a shared platform, and a respectful exchange of ideas is crucial for creating a compelling episode.

Be mindful of time: Time is a valuable resource for podcasters. Before the interview, ask about the expected duration and strive to stay within that time frame. Avoid long-winded answers that may derail the conversation or cut into other planned segments. By being mindful of time, you demonstrate respect for the podcast's production process and contribute to a seamless and efficient recording.

Promote, but don't oversell: While it's essential to promote your work and expertise, striking a balance is crucial. Be mindful not to turn the interview into a sales pitch or incessantly promote your products or services. Instead, focus on offering valuable insights and expertise that showcase your authority in the field. Start off the interview focused on what you’re excited to teach listeners. They’ll be naturally inclined to seek out more information about you if they find your contributions compelling.

Step 5: Show gratitude

Your new podcast friend just did you a huge solid by sharing your story with their audience. Send them a follow-up email asking when the episode will air and what you can do to promote it. Finally, remember that you just made a new podcast friend! Keep in touch with them and work together again in another way. Maybe you could do a promo swap or a feed swap, or think of another fruitful way to work together.

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