How to Be a Great Podcast Guest

Mar 14, 2019

As big as podcasting has become as a medium—in 2018, 44% of Americans ages 12+ said they have listened to a podcast, according to The 2018 Infinite Dial Study —it still remains under-monetized. This is, in part, thanks to poor analytics surrounding who is listening to episodes, for how long, when, where, and why. We take educated guesses as we get to know our audiences, but most podcasters truly know only two things: how many people downloaded a particular episode, and what country they're from.

As a result, most podcasters aren't paid nearly as much as they are worth by advertisers. Marketers, surrounded by rich data and metrics in legacy media markets—like television, radio, and the internet—have no pressing need to jump headfirst into the uncertain waters of podcasting. After all, even if an advertising relationship with a podcast is successful, you may not be able to explain why, given the lack of data.

In essence, podcasters are often underpaid, which means nobody's got time or patience for bad guests. I'm in season three of my podcast, and I can recount, in detail, the one or two truly awful guests we've had. Not only would I never invite them back, but I wouldn't invite them or their company to be part of conferences we produce either.

So, what makes a bad podcast guest, and how can you avoid it? Here are a few key tips.

1. Being Unprepared

Nothing is worse than this. The podcaster puts a lot into his or her show. You're getting all the benefit of the spotlight while someone else does most of the work, and you couldn't show up prepared?

Make sure to listen to a good bit of at least one episode—enough to where you understand the format as well as the conversational tone of the host. Also, try to get an idea, in advance, of the time differential between when a show is recorded and when the podcaster actually releases the content.

This goes for PR and marketing departments as well. If you email a podcaster with a suggested guest for their show, and it's clear you haven't listened to it, that email is probably getting deleted and now you've needlessly left a bad taste in the host’s mouth.

2. Failing to Promote the Show

Once you've recorded the episode, it goes without asking that the guest should promote the episode within his or her networks and on social media.

If you're unhappy with the episode such that you wouldn't want to promote it, that is a conversation you need to have within a day or two of the episode's release. So yes, you need to listen to the episode immediately upon release, so you'll know if there's anything about it you find objectionable.

If you're on Twitter, tweet out a link to the show telling everyone how much fun you had, or what an insightful conversation you enjoyed while part of it. And when you do, make sure to copy the host(s) on that tweet. LinkedIn is the other place where promotion can go a long way (when you mention the show, make sure to copy the host or hosts there, too).

If you're a blogger, write about your podcast appearance, and include links to the show along with the show's logo—which is good for everyone’s SEO. And if you're a podcaster yourself, try to reciprocate and have the host(s) of the show you just joined, as guests on your own show.

In a podcasting medium where money is scarce, generous promotion is an essential currency.

3) Be Respectful, Always

There's a few one-off things a podcast guest should never do, all of which I would file under the category of simply minding your own business.

If you think you have a suggestion for another guest, ask the podcaster before firing off an introductory email between the two parties designed to ultimately invite someone on a show you don't run. If you don’t follow this protocol, it may put unnecessary pressure on the podcaster to appease you.

Do not ever ask to edit the podcast you appear on, or to have an advance listen to it. I've had several celebrity guests on shows I host, and they don’t ask to do this, so please don't think you can. Get over yourself before going on a podcast—you’ll help everyone involved.

Assuming the show doesn't have an existing release cadence, it is somewhat acceptable to ask the podcaster to release an episode on a specific date or a specific window. What's better is explaining this to the podcaster over email when you're initially discussing coming on his or her show, rather than during the show, or way worse, after it's over.

Do not ever call a podcast a "call," a "conference call," a "meeting" or anything else other than a PODCAST or a SHOW. Podcasters are working hard to producing their own show, and trying to carve out a meaningful media presence. The least you can do is not use demeaning language. Call it a show! "I'm honored to be a guest on your show today. Thank you for having me on."


Podcasting is a phenomenal digital content medium. You can share great experiences with others over meaningful conversation, and advance shared knowledge, while raising awareness of what you're doing and what your company is and does. Just keep in mind the importance of being a great podcast guest; it's an investment of time and mental energy that will return itself many times over.

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