M&M 48: How to Be a Great Podcast Guest

What does it take to be a great podcast guest? Whether you have your own or want to be a guest on another podcast, it is helpful to understand the psychology of a listener and what it takes to be a great podcast guest. In Episode 48 of The Money and Media Podcast, Joe Saul-Sehy interviews Jessica Rhodes and Sarah Li Cain about their biggest mistakes when starting out as a podcast guest and some practical tips to stand out from the average guest.

Jessica Rhodes is the founder of Interview Connections, the largest and most successful guest booking agency for podcasters and guest experts in the United States. Sarah Li Cain is co-founder of Beyond the Dollar, a dynamic podcast focused on making money more approachable by having frank and honest conversations.


2:45 The worst podcast guest Jessica ever dealt with
4:00 The types of stories that are best for sharing on a podcast
5:55 The psychology of a podcast listener or why sound quality matters
9:00 The importance of preparation, being present, and remaining focused
10:10 Jessica’s advice on getting your message across without being salesy
13:45 Sarah’s perfect podcasting set-up
15:25 Preparing to be a podcast guest
16:55 What to do when the host is a dud or you are asked something you don’t know the answer to
18:15 Sarah’s advice on getting your message across without being salesy
19:45 How to get your pitch taken seriously
24:20 The best way to get lead on who to pitch
26:21 What some of Sarah’s guests could have done better

Jessica Rhodes – Improve Your Podcast Appearance

Jessica was working as a virtual assistant when her dad asked her to book him on some podcasts. As she began talking to podcasters, she saw a need for someone to bring more guests to the podcasters and make those connections.

The Worst Podcast Guest. Ever.

While Jessica would never publicize the name of the guest, she did publish the episode, so if you listen to every one of her podcast episodes you might be able to guess from the clues we give you.

This guest gave short answers to every question without sharing any backstory or additional interesting information. The guest also seemed to share mostly things that he/she had learned from others, almost regurgitating it. Ultimately, Jessica was left thinking she would have been better off just interviewing the people the guest was quoting.

This guest had also not done anything to prepare the background space of where he/she was recording. You could hear the dog barking and other background noises that made for very bad sound quality. Jessica is actually really forgiving when it comes to background noise but when the answers are so dry and short, the dog is barking, and the entire thing is just mind-numbingly boring, what can you do?

The Best Stories to Share on a Podcast

In order to not be that dry, boring guest on a podcast, you need to tell stories. Stories are how we connect with others and since podcasting is only an audio platform, you don’t have the benefit of body language or eye contact to help you connect.

The best stories are ones that support what you are teaching or talking about. People love to laugh, so any stories that make them laugh are always winners. You also want to share stories of times you have failed or your flaws got in the way. When you share your shortcomings, people can really connect with that because it takes you from being seen as an expert at everything to merely human like them.

When you share stories of failures, especially in your business, and how you managed to overcome those failures, you give people hope that they can overcome their own faults and failures. You challenge them to keep going and work through their trials. Showing your vulnerability and how you made it through that trying time helps to solidify your expertise. People want to see the real you, not some fake, polished you. Don’t be afraid to be authentic.

Be Prepared, Be Present, Be Focused

The best things you can to before going on a podcast are to be prepared, be present, and be focused. If you practice meditation, it’s a handy tool to use before a podcast appearance as it helps you to be more focused.

Be sure you remove as many distractions as possible from your environment before recording a podcast. Put your phone on airplane mode, not just so it doesn’t make any noise, but so you don’t get distracted by anything popping up on the screen. Listen closely to every question that the interviewer asks you so that you can answer the questions with complete presence of mind and not get sidetracked.

When preparing for the interview, be sure that you understand who the target audience is for the podcast. What kinds of stories will this specific audience relate to that you could share with them? Engage with the interviewer; don’t just give one-word answers.

How to Get Your Message Across Without Being Salesy

I know you have heard those podcasts where you’re thinking, “Geez, could you try to sell me just a little bit harder?” (*sarcasm) The opposite of that is those guests whom you have no idea what they are even about.

There is a way, though, to get your message across without making the audience want to turn you off. The first thing to know is that if you are on the right podcast, you won’t have to sell. You simply provide a ton of value to the audience and share everything you can that will help them.

When you build relationships with others and build your expertise by providing value, people are going to naturally come to you for what you have to offer.

If people can’t tell what you do, then you have a bigger problem than what kind of podcast guest you are. You have a business problem that you need to solve.

Sarah Li Cain – Preparing to Be a Podcast Guest

The first thing that Sarah recommends for podcast guests is to forget about their nervousness and begin to think of ways they can contribute to the conversation. Remember that the podcast isn’t about you but about serving the audience. The correct mindset is a must.

Your preparation depends on how the host handles the pre-interview process. If you have a list of questions that will be asked, you can begin to think through certain stories you can share and what information will be valuable for the audience.

If the podcast host asks you to pitch some conversation ideas to them, ask that host which of their episodes is their most downloaded episode. Listen to that episode and take notes on it. Get a sense of the pace, the tone, and which subjects seem to work well for the type of show it is. At that point, start to formulate ideas of how you can speak on the subject of the podcast, whether it’s debt, relationships, or whatever.

What if the Host Is Boring or They Ask You Something You Don’t Know?

Jessica talked about what happens when the guest is a complete dud but what in the world do you do as a guest if the host is a dud?

Sarah suggests asking the host a question or trying to make a point that turns the conversation in a different direction. You should never just depend on the host to keep the conversation going. After all, a conversation is a two-way thing. One person can’t have a conversation with himself.

Sometimes, you might be asked a question that you can’t answer. Sarah says she is completely honest and hopes they edit that part out. But before you say, “I don’t know”, try to think of some story that you could relate to the question, so that even if you can’t answer it concisely, you can at least provide some value to the listeners.

Be Heard Without Sounding Salesy

Sarah mentioned a book she recently read called “To Sell Is Human”, by Daniel Pink. The book puts forth the idea that we are always selling, either by trying to persuade someone of something or trying to sell an actual product.

As a podcast guest, it is important to bring as much value as possible. When Sara set a personal goal of being on as many podcasts as possible in order to spread the message of financial wellness, she actually had 3 people contact her and ask her to be their personal coach.

Just being on the podcasts and bringing tremendous value turned into paid clients. She didn’t have to try to sell anything. She didn’t even offer coaching packages at the time, so it’s not like she was offering a product or service for sale.

Getting Your Pitch Taken Seriously

As a podcaster myself, I can tell you that the pitches roll in fast and heavy. As we are recording this episode, it is 1:30 p.m. and I have been pitched no less than 12 times today. So, how do you get your pitch through the noise of the other pitches and get the chance to be an awesome podcast guest?

Sarah recommends a couple of things:

  • Look for the lowest barrier to entry. Do you know someone who knows someone who needs a podcast guest? Use warm connections whenever possible. Podcasters get pitched a ton so you need a way into their inbox that gets you noticed.
  • Always use your name in the subject line of your email. If someone thinks they are getting pitched from a PR firm, that email is getting filed in the trash. In the subject line, put “Pitch from (your name): (topic idea).

Another thing to keep in mind is to know the topics that the podcaster you are pitching typically covers. Sarah’s podcast covers financial health so when she was pitched by someone who wanted to discuss postpartum health, Sarah had to wonder if the person had ever even heard her podcast.

Getting Leads on Who to Pitch

We’ve already talked about how to pitch but how do you know who to pitch? Where do you get leads on podcasts that would be good for you to be a guest on?

One way Sarah finds more podcasts to be on is to look at who has been on a podcast she has been a guest on. If they have a podcast of their own, she can then ask the podcast host for a warm introduction to that guest.

She also spends time brainstorming complimentary niche podcasts that she could go on. For her topic, she listens to several spirituality and wellness shows to see if they might be a good fit for her message of financial wellness. Find podcasts that have a natural connection to your topic and pitch them.

How Guests Can Improve

If you don’t understand the technology necessary to be a podcast guest, you need to get up to speed if you want to be taken seriously. You need to be familiar with microphones, using online recording software like Skype, and how to get great sound quality with no barking dogs in the background.

No podcast host wants to have to teach you how to use a microphone or how to use Skype. Do the homework necessary to be a great guest. Get a microphone and figure out the best place in your house to record. Play around with Skype and figure out how to use it.

If you follow the tips that Jessica and Sarah shared in this episode, you will be prepared to be one of the best podcast guests a host could ask for.

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About Our Hosts

Joe Saul-Sehy is the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins personal finance podcast and operates the Stacking Benjamins blog.

Steve Stewart from Steve Stewart Podcast Productions and the director of the FinCon Podcast Network.

Thanks for Listening!

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