How To Deal With A Difficult Podcast Guest
All podcasters – no matter the size or influence of their show – have been in a tough spot with a difficult podcast guest before. Whether the interview didn’t sit right with them, or there were technical or scheduling issues, there are plenty of ways a difficult podcast guest can throw you off your podcasting game.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways that difficult podcast guests can show up in your production process, and ways you can avoid each issue going forward. These tips will also help YOU be a better podcast guest if you get invited on another show! Let’s dive in:
What Makes A Difficult Podcast Guest? (Don’t Let This Be You!)
Lack of Talking Points
The most common concern we hear from Ossa podcasters if they’ve had a difficult podcast guest has to do with the actual interview itself. A podcast conversation is a two-way street, and it’s the podcaster’s job to guide the conversation, not fill it. The guest should be able to riff on their questions and speak on their experience and knowledge without over-involvement from the host. If the host feels like they’re “pulling teeth” trying to get the guest to participate in the conversation, it’s not likely to be a good episode.
A huge (and easily fixable) issue when it comes to difficult podcast guests is a lack of preparation in terms of audio equipment. The guest doesn’t necessarily need to have high-quality audio gear on hand, but if they join from their phone or a low-quality, built-in laptop mic for example, the audio quality may really take value away from what they’re sharing on the podcast episode. Listeners may even skip the episode entirely if it’s not pleasant to listen to.
Scheduling conflicts happen to the best of us in every profession, but it makes a particularly negative impact on podcasters. Most of them are on tight production schedule, whether that’s daily, weekly, or monthly, with multiple people involved in getting the episode online (or they’re a one-woman show doing it all!). Considering that most podcast hosts are not doing this full-time and have other obligations, their show’s production schedule needs to run smoothly. A delay of even a day or so can mess with their entire process.
Aside from throwing off the production schedule, guest rescheduling can also potentially limits the number of listeners to this particular episode. If not consciously, most podcast listeners look for their favorite show on a certain day of the week. However, they also subscribe to multiple shows. If they go looking for this new episode in their favorite podcast player and don’t see it due to a scheduling issue and delay in publishing, they might miss it entirely.
All this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t reschedule, especially for a genuine emergency. You also don’t want to be totally distracted during the interview! But if possible, try to stick to the original interview date to avoid being a difficult podcast guest. There is SO much more that goes into podcast production than just recording the interview!
The second most common complaint from difficult podcast guests is that they didn’t promote the episode on their own social channels after it was published. This is incredibly disheartening for podcasters because to them, a major advantage of having you on the show (aside from sharing your expertise and experience with their audience, of course) is reaching new listeners from your audience.
Everyone is looking for a little boost in this industry, and spreading that goodwill around always pays back. Promoting the episode on their own channels helps the guest boost their credibility by showing their various media appearances, including podcasts! It’s an easy win-win, so always be sure to promote all of your appearances.
If you don’t feel great about your interview, you can always reach out to the podcaster with transparency and honesty saying that you’d love a chance to re-record if possible. Chances are they also would like a re-do if the interview didn’t sit right with you, so don’t be afraid to ask!
Our Best Advice for Podcasters: Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best
To avoid having a difficult podcast guest on your show in the first place, there are a few measures you can take to ensure the best possible conversation:
Schedule a Pre-Interview
Take a quick 10 minutes with them about a day before the episode interview to get to know each other, run through the questions you’d love to ask them, make sure they are are comfortable with all the talking points (always ask if there is anything they don’t want to talk about!) and ask if there is any new endeavor they’re working that they’d love to promote.
This is a great opportunity to build rapport with guests so that they feel more comfortable with you on the day of the interview. It can be a bit jarring to hop on to a call, meet someone for the first time, and go right into a recording, especially if they are new to the podcast guest appearance world.
A pre-interview is also a great opportunity to check their audio to make sure it’s up to par with the rest of your episodes. If their audio doesn’t sound good on the preliminary call, ask if they have another device or even a formal microphone, or headphones with a built in microphone they can use instead. Make sure to test these too on this call so that there are no surprises the day of the episode recording.
Make It Clear: Not Every Interview Will Be Posted!
An often overlooked tip among podcast hosts is that you do not have to post every interview you do. It’s your show! If you’re not happy with the quality, conversation, or anything else about the episode, you are under no obligation to post it. Even if you have an ad deal and need to post an ad spot that week, post a solo episode instead. There are plenty of solutions to avoiding posting an episode with a difficult podcast guest.
If you feel any sort of obligation, one tip that may help you feel better about canceling episodes is putting a disclaimer in your scheduling service that not every interview will be posted, and you will be in touch with the guest if the interview is selected to go live. This gives you a bit more control, sets expectations for guests, and also creates more of a sense of prestige for any potential guest reading through your scheduling page.
Make Post-Episode Promotion Easy
To avoid being disappointed by a guest not sharing the episode with their audience after it goes live, make promotion easy for them. Most of the time, they don’t do this because they either fall back into their busy lives and don’t have the time, or they’re just not sure what to post (or both).
Once the episode is live, make sure to send a follow up email thanking them for their time along with a few social media graphics made and ready to post (IG feed post, IG story, Facebook post, newsletter post – wherever you want to make sure their audience sees the podcast).
If you want to make it even easier, give them social media links to the posts s you did to promote the episode and ask them to repost and share on their feeds (however, if you want this in their newsletter, you’ll have to ask them for that separately). You should share your social handles with an ask to follow in the follow up email anyway if you’re not already following each other.
All of these tips can help both parties have a pleasant and mutually beneficial podcast guest interview experience. Avoid difficult podcast guests and foster long-term positive podcast relationships by creating supportive environments on both ends!