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Podcast Guests

How to deal with “not perfect” guests

Sep 12, 2021

This is something most podcasters face. We can or do try to avoid it with our "best practices" which we will also talk about in this publication to help those new to podcasting, to avoid this happening.

The sad reality of podcasting is that not every guest is the perfect fit for our show.

Many of us have a deep respect for the precious time that listeners invest in our podcasts. Therefore, it's important not only to be mindful of our delivery but also how much value you can offer them based on what they're looking forward to.

What do you do when the guest interview you have recorded becomes not publishable?

From my experience, like with everything in podcasting, business, and in life, I use the honest communication method.

The last thing any podcaster wants is a guest who emails or messages them on a regular basis asking when their episode is going to air.

This can lead to the podcast host feeling they should just publish the episode regardless of the fit, to avoid feeling bad for not publishing the episode and not knowing how to let that guest know.

Firstly, it’s your show!

This means it is up to you to decide what airs and what doesn’t, and as content creators, we should never feel bad or guilty about the decisions we make regarding our podcast.

Secondly, we don’t owe our guests anything for their time contribution, should the episode not be published for whatever reason.

If you have a guest that you have interviewed and you are concerned, they won’t understand why their interview didn’t go air, they were not the right fit from the beginning.

Traditionally in the podcast landscape, guests give us their time in exchange for their media presence. Their opportunity to become known for their ‘zone of genius’ in hope that they get further exposure, build their audience, or grow their following from being a guest on podcasts.

Many times, these guests are those not willing, or not in a position to make their own podcast. Either they don’t have the time commitment, or they know the amount of work and dedication it takes to produce a podcast. So technically they are riding the coattails of those of us that do.

On other occasions, they do have their own podcast and they guest on other people’s podcasts to further their reach and like the opportunity to have further exposure to what their podcast is about, thus increasing their own audience.

As a podcast host myself, I know I will always highlight the fact that a guest has their podcast and certainly support their contribution of the value they are adding to the world. These guests receive more acknowledgment from me as a fellow podcaster.

Some best practices to help us avoid the ‘not perfect’ guest although they are not a 100% guarantee of success but will certainly help us narrow down the chances of this happening and reaching that uncomfortable position.

Pre-Recording Meetings

Ensure you have discovery calls with guests you don’t know. This helps you understand what they want out of the episode and gives you the opportunity to provide the outline of your show and its purpose.

In this call, you can highlight what your guest needs to prepare for the be very intentional to them about the fact that you want to add value your audience if that is the purpose of your show.

I’ll use my BizNation, business podcast as an example.

I have guest requests rolling in from profile websites like Matchmaker.fm to name one of many. People from all over the world, and in most cases, non-podcasters looking for the opportunity to reach my audience and expand their brand for what they offer the world.

In the Pre-Recording meeting, I express to the potential guest that they will be introduced as “Name, from their business name, and what they do” this is at the very start of the show. After that I want my guest to bring value, give advice and actionable tips to my audience for FREE”. I also explain that they get the opportunity at the end of the show to tell us where we can find them.

If they try and self-promote outside of my “flow of the show” in their episode, it simply won’t be published if it is not done by agreeance or tastefully and they will have wasted their time and mine.

I know what you’re thinking, sounds harsh! I can tell you; no one has ever objected, no one has ever bowed out of recording as they respect that they are coming onto my show. In fact, I get the opposite reaction from them that they fully appreciate me sharing this with them. They appreciate me being open and honest with them from the start.

Booking Terms & Conditions

The other item of importance I do is I clearly have it stated in the terms of booking (calendly text) that we reserve the right to not publish episodes based on the show outline and by booking in, they are agreeing to this condition.

Another outline I use is the requirements for the recording. Asking guests to consider the time of day for noise or interruptions so that I can highlight them in the best possible way for their episode.

Asking for headphones or earbuds to be used and outlining this requirement is for best audio results in editing the podcast. I do not ask them to have a professional setup as many do not have this, but the mention of some basic housekeeping as listed above helps us deliver them at least to a good minimum standard.

Expecting our guests to sound like us or better than us is not realistic and our listeners won’t normally tune out if the audio quality differs from host to guest – this is normal.

Communication

This is always key, if you have followed the steps above that I recommend, you have 0 reasons to feel guilty that your guest’s interview doesn’t air on your show.

If it does happen, I highly recommend you take the front foot and let your guest know when you make the decision as to why their episode isn’t going to be published.

You can explain, for example, the show became more of your self-promotion rather than the purpose that was outlined which was to bring value.

You can advise that due to technical difficulties if this was the case, the episode quality would be too poor for publication.

Just be honest.

If you have decided for whatever reason this guest is not going to be the right fit for your show, tell them.

If you did have technical problems, tell them what they were eg. Your neighbor’s barking dog was not removable or eg. The internet connection was of too poor quality or eg. The storm they had going on didn’t help us get the quality we needed.

If it is more content-related, give them the feedback honestly. The guest most likely wants to be a guest on future podcasts and being honest with them, and giving them the feedback head-on, can help them improve for future media appearances.

I can’t say it enough, just be honest.

If they do not take it well, I said this before, they might not have been the right fit from the beginning.

If you do want to give it another shot, try another recording with them, offer this option, depending on the reason the recording won’t be published. But if you really don’t see them fitting your show’s purpose, tell them this also.

Remember, it is your show, your blood, sweat, and tears going into your episodes, you have all the rights to communicate with guests and not publish everything that is recorded.

Most of all, don’t leave your guest hanging. This is not the answer, hoping they don’t ask, hoping they forget. As you want to be known and respected and the best way to achieve this is by being open and honest.