How to Prepare Your Podcast Guests for Recording | Tips for an Excellent Conversation

If you’re new to having guests on your podcast, or even if you’ve had less than stellar experiences with guests in the past, let this be your guide to prepare guests to be on your show. Taking the time before the recording to get to know your guest and to brief them on what to expect, is well worth it and ensures quality conversations.

Important general guidelines

Having guests on your podcast is an excellent way to build rapport within the podcasting community and to further expand your audience. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons to have guests on your podcast. If they’re willing to share about the episode on their social media, and they have a large following, this is a great method to gain more listeners! Not to mention, if the potential listeners like the topics discussed on your show, they’re likely to tune in again and again.  

It’s important to take the time to get to know your guests before recording with them because the listeners can tell when the host and guest are strangers. Consider the recording like welcoming a guest into your home. Treat them with gratitude for taking the time to be on your show and help them to feel as comfortable as possible because when they feel this way, authentic conversation flows more easily.  

As a host, it’s your duty to vet each guest and to make sure they are well acquainted with your podcasting guidelines. No matter your genre, whether it’s politics, storytelling, documentary style, and anything in between, the guest should feel at ease when speaking with you. Arguing with the guest (unless that’s your chosen theme) is a surefire way to turn them off of ever coming on your show again.

Days (or weeks) before recording

Depending on your preference and the amount of time you want to spend getting to know your guests, some podcast hosts prefer to survey their guests well ahead of time so both are prepared for the interview. This can look like having the guest fill out a questionnaire like a curated Google Form that requires them to input social media links, links to their books, a personal bio, and any other information they might want to share. 

Many of our clients prefer to send the Google Form in advance (even a couple weeks to a month) because that gives both the hosts and the guests ample time to ask each other questions and to review their answers.

Shortly before the recording

If you would prefer to get to know your guests without creating a form, resources like LinkedIn are a great place to start, especially if you plan on discussing the guest’s credentials and if their professional background is why you are bringing them on the show.

Many of our clients use Zoom to speak with their guests if they can’t record in person. Whether recording via web or together in a studio and regardless of how well you know the guest, it’s always a good idea to take a few minutes before the recording to chat with them and remind them of what’s expected in the interview. Going over discussion topics, audio best practices, and asking the guest if they have any questions before recording is a great way to break the ice and to help them feel more comfortable.

Audio best practices

When it comes to recording etiquette, we recommend to all podcasters to strictly follow our guidelines to ensure the highest quality outcome possible. As you are preparing your guest to record, here are some basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Mouth distance from the mic should be 5-6 inches.
  • Avoid fiddling with the mic or other noisy objects while you record, as this will be picked up and reflected in the audio. If you need to adjust anything, ask the speaker to pause and adjust while no one is speaking so the noise can be edited out later. 
  • Speak as you normally would, directly to the mic. Don’t whisper or shout and make sure to always enunciate. 
  • Stay hydrated! Keep some water nearby so the mic won’t pick up on excess mouthy noises.
  • Avoid speaking over each other, as this is especially difficult to clean up in the editing process and quite annoying for the listener.
  • Keep your head turned toward the mic. If you turn your head while speaking, the audio will get quieter as you move away. 
  • Be sure to silence your phone before recording.

Our simple “getting to know you” questions

Looking for some questions to ask your guests to get to know them better before recording? Perhaps you need questions to ask on a Google Form. Here are some of our favorites:

  • What do you want me to know about you? Do you have a bio I can read?
  • What are your credentials? Favorite achievements?
  • What’s a fun or interesting fact about yourself?
  • What social media links can I include in the show notes to direct the audience to you if they want to learn more?
  • Have you listened to many podcasts? Have you ever been on a podcast before?
  • What topics are you interested in discussing during the recording?
  • What’s an embarrassing fact about you? Is there something funny about yourself you would like to tell the audience when I introduce you?
  • What’s your experience in your industry? How long have you worked in it and why do you enjoy it?
  • What makes you the happiest? What are some of your favorite activities?
  • What interests you most about (x)?
  • If you could tell the audience one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
  • What do you want your biggest takeaway to be from this experience?
  • If you had the ear of anyone in your field, who would it be and what would you tell them?

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