How to get booked, have a next level interview, and what to do after
This ultimate guide to the perfect podcast interview experience will:
- Help you secure more interviews on podcasts.
- Vastly improve the results you get from them.
- Reveal some insight into the world of podcasting
- Provide some great general principles for getting the most out of any interview or meeting.
- Finally, it will also present some meta-life principles – These will help with your entire life and lead to much greater success if you adopt them.
If every guest on any podcast had known these things before doing an interview, we would live in a world of great interviews. The best time to plant a tree is 40 years ago. I can’t go back in time but I’m planting my tree now!
I run three podcasts and have appeared on several others. A favourite topic between podcast hosts is the huge variance in quality of guests, how to get the best conversation flow, the things a guest does that we love and then, of course, the things we hate.
It is important to know that a podcast takes a LOT of work and doesn’t just exist to help promote people. There are a few small things a guest can do to turn an okay interview into a great interview. There are also some basic rules of social etiquette and being a nice person that can actually pay back dividends in terms of how much promotion you are going to get.
The Fundamentals about Getting Booked on Podcasts
Why Appear on Podcasts?
Podcasts present a brilliant opportunity for free PR. If you can get yourself interviewed on a bunch of podcasts in your industry you can really grow your profile. But we don’t all run around with Tim Ferris, Joe Rogan trying to book us onto their podcasts. Getting your name out there doesn’t happen without some work.
You don’t need to appear on massive podcasts when there are plenty of shows in your target niche. These are much smaller and easier to get on. Having your ideal audience listen to a one-hour conversation getting to know you is huge. Much better than a 30-second ad about your idea. But it’s not simply a case of saying you’re available and podcasters will come.
The Podcasters Perspective
Creating a podcast takes a lot of work. For the first 50 episodes of my podcast, I put in about 15 hours of work per podcast. (excessive but I like learning how to do things properly before outsourcing, and I’m super dyslexic so I’m just slow at things…). Now I’m a busy guy that doesn’t have time to kill just to promote you.
I’ve had emails from people who’ve had this awesome idea that they can come on my show the Growth Mindset Podcast. “I’ve heard about the Growth Mindset and it’s pretty cool. I’ve been doing interviews lately and they have gone really well so I’d be great on your show.” They often seem to genuinely think that they are doing me a favour which is bonkers.
An email like that does not get a response.
Podcast PR Firms
I receive multiple emails a day from podcast introduction services. They have a recommendation for some great CEO of something. When I first started getting these emails I was pretty chuffed. But quickly I realised that these people never actually listened to my podcast. Often the whole interview is very transactional.
PR services sell you the opportunity to appear on podcasts for as little as $50 an interview. It makes sense that you might view it as a commodity (can be $500/interview). But remember the podcaster doesn’t get any money for this, it is the PR company. They usually don’t even mention they are a PR company and email the host saying something like.
I know this great person “-name-here-“, I think they’d really be good on your show about “-topic-x-“. They have lots of experience. “-copy-paste-rest-of-profile-here”
Remember any respectful podcaster would never accept money to have someone on their show and are mostly naive to this. Also, remember that the podcaster isn’t taking any of the money. The quality of the podcast you are on is irrelevant to the PR company. They find it much easier to book you onto poor podcasts. Their idea of ‘vetting’ means that they just search for any podcast in the relevant category to your skills.
(on that note if you want higher quality PR affordably, I’d recommend ‘High Profile Club’. As well as podcasts they help you get press, network, speech bookings, write a book, and talk at Ted conferences)
With the rise of people trying to introduce me to their clients, it just feels more and more like I’m being used. Every podcast host I talk to seems to have this feeling of being treated like shit.
The Problem with Outsourcing
As a host, I really value the relationships I build with the cool people I have on my show. It’s great to become friends with inspiring people. I love helping promote them on their journey, whilst they let me dive into their life’s wisdom.
As an analogy, when I do a podcast with someone I think of it as having a mate come round for dinner. We relax and explore talking about really cool shit.
When you pay for it, suddenly it feels like I’m treated as a waiter. I’m there on the sidelines whilst you are engaging in the main event without me. I’m just trying to make polite conversation in the hope of getting a tip. Not cool.
Most podcasters make no money to start with. The ones that keep going and become successful are the ones that enjoy the process.
My metrics of success was how much I was learning and the number of new relationships I was making. This way it didn’t matter if I made no money or if no one listened. I made a point to try and ask fascinating and interesting questions so that the guest would have a great experience regardless of my poor listenership. With time listeners have arrived but I still do it because I love doing it.
The Lack of Connection from Connection Services
If I get an email from some PR person about someone else they are promoting who hasn’t listened to my podcast. That isn’t a good start for a relationship. There is no pre-interview getting to know each other. No investment from their side in finding out what I’m up to.
Occasionally, the guest has been awesome and has followed the rest of the rules I’ll outline below. But often I just have their time for half an hour and it’s completely transactional. They just show up and say some things about themselves until the time is over. By the end of the conversation, their head is already somewhere else. The meeting was just another chore on their list of things to do.
I don’t even have their contact details to thank them and am just connected to their PR person. This PR person gets paid for getting the interview, yet I have to do all the work to do the actual promoting… It sucks and makes me dislike the person I interviewed, dislike the PR person, and dislike being a podcaster.
Part 1 — The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked
If you want to get onto a podcast there are some basic etiquette things you can do. It will increase your results and the likelihood of a good interview.
1. Talk to the Host Yourself
If someone contacts me directly they are already showing some investment into the process. It already feels personal. I at least feel like there is some pre-dialogue going on. I am not interviewing some mystery person who may or may not be interesting.
2. Listen to the Podcast
If you haven’t listened to the podcast I already feel like you aren’t bothered about it. So why should I be bothered about you?
You can totally lie in an intro email and say. Hey, episode X about Y was awesome. This shows you’ve at least looked at my website. Then, if you do get booked on the show, you’ll have a few weeks to listen up before the interview.
3. Have an Angle
Explain why you would be so interesting on the show. Why you have something beneficial to add that my listeners haven’t heard before. As they say, you must have a story to tell.
I run the Growth Mindset Podcast. Surprisingly if you say you something generic like,
“I heard about the Growth Mindset concept, it’s cool. We could talk about that”
That isn’t very interesting. I talk about Growth Mindset a lot and probably know more about it than you. I don’t need someone on my podcast just saying that the Growth Mindset is good. That’s a fascinating 10 seconds no one needs to hear.
Can you tell a story of adversity? How a Growth Mindset got you out of it? and sound like a badass in the process? Then I really want to talk about that.
“I couldn’t get a good job as an immigrant with poor english and I felt stuck. Starting a business was a way I could control my situation instead of working for nothing. I had no idea what I was doing and read books to solve my problems and asked questions. After 2 years of hustling the business was taking millions”
(see the Episode with Rafael Dos Santos for the full story. A badass with a Growth Mindset — [unintentional accident but he is now the owner of High Profile club], he totally didn’t pay me for this post but it makes a good point. When you are a nice guest and have a cool story you might get more promotion than just the interview!)
4. Compliment the host
Super basics of being polite here. Don’t go overboard with ridiculous flattery but just remember the host is a human. People are much more interested in hearing about themselves than they are about others.
If your entire email is all about you, that’s a sign that our interview isn’t going to be much of a conversation.
5. Promote the Show
Before you’ve been on a show this seems like an odd thing to do. There is no guarantee that you are going to get on the show. But it puts you head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. You look like you are already on my side helping me grow the podcast. I like people that are on my team and already want to help them back.
You are about to ask me to put in a tonne of work to promote you. It’s pretty basic etiquette to put in a minute or two beforehand to do something for me. It genuinely makes me like you already and feels like I owe you something. (And it shows that I can rely on you to help promote your own episode afterwards which is also important.)
The basic rule that if you give first you get a lot more back is so true. I’ll probably be way more excited to interview you. I will put more work into making the episode the best I can if I know that you are also invested.
5.1 Rate the podcast
What’s the number 1 thing you’ve heard every single podcast host ever on the planet say?
Please rate my podcast on iTunes. It helps so much. I’d be so happy
Soooo, what’s the number 1 thing you can do to make a podcaster happy?
RATE their bloody podcast on iTunes!
This is so stunningly obvious and yet no one thinks about it. iTunes ratings are like crack for podcast hosts. It is nearly impossible to get someone to rate your show
(Unless you have a sound screw up and everyone comes out to tell you what a shit job you did. There is no way to find them and tell them you fixed it. It would be nice if people used the contact form for these things, but life…)
People listen to podcasts on their locked phone in their pocket whilst walking, cooking or driving etc… They don’t sit on iTunes watching a piece of audio. Thus, they never are in a situation where they would rate a podcast which is tragically frustrating for podcasters. This turns reviews into a highly prized asset we can never get enough off.
Thus, it is incredibly easy to make a podcasters day by literally spending 30 seconds of your time. Log into iTunes and post a nice comment.
5.2 Share on Social Media
When I have a flood of emails of people trying to get on the podcast. If I get an email from someone who I saw tweeted one of my podcasts yesterday, I’m already thinking this person is awesome. It’s like someone is on my team working with me and that’s bloody great. Podcasting can be a pretty lonely solo affair.If someone is showing they are coming at it from my angle they are already a hero.
(Note — Just because you share or rate a podcast does not guarantee you will be on someone’s show. Don’t think the podcaster owes you anything. It is a good way to stand out and make the person like you. If the podcaster has too many people already or they aren’t recording for a few months, then you still won’t get an interview. But you will have earned a friend so don’t get annoyed about it.
If you get annoyed you just wasted the time you put into making a friend. Just be happy and the podcaster will probably promote some of your stuff even if they don’t interview you.)
Part 2 — How To Interview Well
Podcast guests can vary greatly. These are some rules to help you interview well and impress the socks off the host and audience.
1. Listen to the Podcast
If you didn’t do this before the booking, absolutely do this before appearing. It’s a chance to actually learn a little about the person you are about to talk to. You can get a feel for the content they put out and how to approach it.
It’s pretty clear when someone has or hasn’t listened. It’s a simple fact that the host will like you more if you have listened. The worst thing you can do is not listen and then lie and say that you have. It’s obvious and now I also know you’re a liar.
2. Read any Guidelines
I have guidelines for my show that I send guests. They are made for a reason and thus it’s good to read them. Different hosts have different workflows. It can just help the whole process if you understand what they are telling you.
3. Use a Microphone or Headset!!
It is essential for an online interview. If you sound terrible then the interview might not be publishable.
The most important item in my guidelines!
Recording without any form of a headset and using the inbuilt mic on your phone/tablet/laptop is usually not good. It’s even worse if there is any other noise going on.
Using the free headphones that came with your phone is also usually terrible. It can pick up when it bangs into your face. The worst is if you have a beard and it just scratches every time you talk.
If you are planning to do a few interviews to promote yourself, spend a bit of money (~$30) to get something not poo. You need to have a microphone or a headset that works clearly. You can check by just calling a mate or recording yourself for 20 seconds beforehand to see how it sounds.
3. Last minute Prep:
These are some great life hacks for any type of interview or important meeting or speech. It can help you feel excited instead of anxious
Warm up your body
Get yourself a little excited and jump up and down and do some stretching. It helps put you in the zone and makes you more present
Warm up your mouth
It’s easy to be lazy when you speak and can cause slurrs and unclear words. If you do a few tongue twister exercises it can just help your eloquence so people can understand you.
Speak slowly and clearly
Practice reading something out slowly and clearly. When you are on a podcast it is better to speak slower than normal and more clearly. More people will be able to understand you and that’s a good thing
Brush your teeth
This helps you mentally feel clean and awesome. It also gives your mouth a fresh feeling that makes you feel more aware of it. So you are more likely to catch yourself when you are speaking unclearly or too fast.
Bonus 1 — If you are being interviewed in person you will have great breath and more confidence.
Bonus 2 — If the recording has video involved, you can confidently use your biggest smile with nothing stuck in your teeth.
See episode with Lisa Forte a badass lady protecting the world from Cyber Crime and giving inspiring speeches. She delivers awesome advice for speaking and gives a perfect example of how to compliment a podcast host. Thus she became one of my favourite humans in the short space of an hour
4. Be a Mindful Interviewee
The interview might be about you but you need to be flexible.
Don’t plan what to Say
If you plan exactly what you are going to say it sounds weird and robotic. You need to be able to go with the flow and not get thrown off by questions you haven’t planned for. If I feel like someone is just repeating things they’ve said a million times I’ll deliberately throw them off. This has two possible results:
- a great and unique conversation
- an embarrassment of an interview.
try to make it the awesome option but at least both are interesting and unique. I’m in the conversation too for the hour. If I feel like I’m getting bored, I assume my listeners must be twice as bored. I feel it is my duty to switch it up.
Have an idea for a Theme
A guest who has an overall theme or message they want to get across is great for an interview. I can dig into that and give the podcast a good title when I know what you are about. (re: have a story to tell)
Answer the Question
You need to listen to the interviewer and actually answer the question rather than just talking about something else. If you don’t hear the question just say you didn’t understand. You sound much stupider talking about something else than you do asking for clarification. (I can quickly cut out the back and forth anyway. I’m not so keen on re-recording my question to make it sound like you listened to me when you didn’t)
Be Open to Discussion
Some guests seem to literally interview themselves and leave no room for the interviewer to say much. It’s a bit rude and doesn’t sound so interesting to the listener when it is just one person talking endlessly.
Also, remember the host perhaps knows some cool things about a topic and might have something useful to say. You might just learn something yourself.
If you do just talk endlessly then I will pounce on any gap. I’m going to try and trip you up so that you stop talking because why not.
Ultimately, not giving any space in a conversation is rude and listeners notice. They prefer someone when they felt they were part of an even conversation. People don’t like being ranted at. (think of any good love movie, it is the interaction between two people that makes you like them)
5. Say something Nice about the Podcast
Again, this is just being polite. It will make me like you more and I will want to promote the interview because I sound good in it.
(e.g. Lisa Forte — absolute legend. She genuinely found time during her awesome work battling cyber-crime to listen to a bunch of my shows and had specific good things to say. Thus she also gets a double mention in this post)
Part 3 — After the Podcast
Okay, so the podcast is over and your job is done, right? Well, actually you can still massively improve your results from the podcast by helping out.
1. Send a Profile
Send the host a good picture and bio. Give them all the links they might need that you want them to promote. This saves the host from having to find all these things. It makes it much more likely that your links will get added to any show notes which boosts your SEO.
2. Share the podcast
Literally, do as much as you can to promote the episode (as long as it isn’t terrible). Put it on your social media, put it in your email newsletter, publish it on your blog.
3. Have a Media page
If you have a personal website make a page of links for any press you have such as podcasts. This will also make a podcaster more likely to accept you because they know they’ll get a backlink. We care about SEO too! (And there is nothing like seeing my logo on someone else’s website 😊)
(see Petra Velzeboer’s media appearances page with nice big images for all her press. It might still take me several attempts to spell her name every time but she is an exemplary human with an amazing story overcoming adversity. She is also a good example of asking me interesting questions during the interview)
4. Refer someone else to be on Podcast
It’s likely you will know a few awesome people that would be a good fit for the podcast you were just on. Referring someone is something you can do for the host and for the person you are referring. Thus, two people are benefitting from your simple act and will think of you as a cool and lovely person.
During their podcast together they will probably start it by mentioning how cool you are for connecting them. They both know you so can instantly bond of shared appreciation. The show notes will probably have a link to your episode and thus you get more exposure. It’s a win for everyone, but mostly you.
e.g. Eamonn Carey the MD of TechStars taught me about launching an accelerator and recommended me two awesome guests.
- Mait Muntel — Still my favourite interview to date!
- Agustin Gonzalez — Amazing story of overcoming crazy challenges
Both episodes started with
‘Eamonn is so cool, thanks Eamonn for making this happen. I love Eamonn, Eamonn is my favourite, when I have kids I want them to be like Eamonn’
(I actually had to cut out some of the Eamonn love speak on the start of both episodes as it was far too heavy. But this shows what happens when you connect people)
4. Ask if you can Help?
Something that a lot of the most successful people that have been on my podcast have done. Every email they send they always ask me how they can help. I was super surprised to start off with but then I realised they do this with every email they send regardless, it’s just a habit for them. But I was wondering why these people are being so damn nice and helpful. Then I spent 10 days meditating in silence and it all made sense.
Asking how you might be able to help immediately opens up the other person to talk about their problems. It gives you insight into their world. This allows you to pick any problems you are able to solve, usually with minimal investment. (you probably know someone that can give advice or help with their problem). Making a connection for someone requires no effort but creates a bank of favours that you are owed.
I now owe some uber successful people some favours I plan to give back. Accruing a bunch of good will from people even before you need it is just smart. Consider it an investment. It doesn’t always come back straight away but in the long run you’re winning.
Let’s say you appear on 10 podcast. On all of them you make sure to be a super helpful person. It is likely one of those go-getter podcasters is going to become pretty successful themselves and be able to pay you back in a huge way. Maybe you get to invest early in the next big thing. Perhaps you get free tickets to your favourite game. You might get a connection to a future huge guest the podcaster has.
Or just maybe the happy podcaster buys you get a crate of craft beer and nominates you for a lifetime achievement award. (I actually did this for one legend of a guest and will definitely be doing it for more)
Why have a policy of giving?
The more you give the more you get!
- If I see you are doing all these things I’m much more likely to do more work my end.
- I’m more likely to go back to your episode in the future and share on social media again.
- If someone asks me who one of my favourite guests was it’s more likely to be you! (people forget the details but they remember how you make them feel)
- The more external links to the episode that exist the greater its SEO will be, thus more listens.
- You’re more likely to get extra mentions in posts like this
That last point is really a point you can adopt in your whole life. Not just for your communication with a podcaster. It embodies the general principle for this article.
When you make a point of giving, you always get back a lot more in the long run.
Don’t get bogged down in the moment. When you get rejected by a podcaster after rating their podcast, don’t cry about it. That specific person doesn’t owe you anything. Think about the bigger picture.
On average you are getting success with a lot more interview requests. Each reach out is a more meaningful connection. All your interviews are higher quality and you are getting more promotion and other benefits you don’t know about.
Stop sweating the small stuff and be grateful for the big stuff.
This advice is useful for any form of request and will really stack the decks in your favour. But the general principles it embodies will help you in your whole life.
- Be nice and give more
- Buy a not crap headset
- Rate my podcast on iTunes