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Making Guests Feel Right at Home

Think back to your most recent job interview. What do you remember? For me, it starts by researching the company and (hopefully) researching the hiring manager (assuming I got past HR). I script a list of questions to ask and highlight key points from the job description and corresponding parts of my resume.

I have a plan, which is great until the call actually begins and we say hello--at that point, I have no clue how it's going to go. The only thing I now is that I am stressed, sweating through my shirt, trying to sound professional, and ultimately second guessing every word that comes out of my mouth.

Why do I bring up job interviews in a podcast newsletter? Because being a guest on a podcast can be as stressful as a job interview (sometimes more so). It is the responsibility of the host to make the guest feel comfortable.

Let's look at three ways to make the guest experience better and more comfortable.

Set Expectations to Eliminate Surprises

Anything you can do to guide them through the agenda and let them know what to expect will lower their anxiety. It's like when I travel someplace for the first time. If I don't know where I am going, I tend to be on edge, afraid I will miss a turn or not know where to park. It's the same for a podcast.

The best ways I have learned how to guide the guest are a list of questions, a show outline, and talking through the show with the guest before we start recording.

Bonus tip: I always let the guest know that at the end of show after we say our on-air thank yous, to just hang out while I stop the recording and let the software process the file. I let them know that they don't have to press any buttons or click anything. I do this because different recording software requires you to do different things, and I want the guest to know exactly what to do (or in this case, to do nothing).

Learn About Their Podcast Experience

I have had the pleasure of interviewing guests who have been interviewed dozens of times and who have hosted hundreds of podcast episodes themselves. I have also had the pleasure of interviewing several people who had their first guest spot on my show.

There is a major difference between these two groups in terms of their comfort level.

With each type of guest, I explain my goal for the episode, which is to have fun, showcase their expertise, and simply have a conversation. It's like having a cup of coffee or tea with someone. I also let them know the list of questions is a guideline for us, however, I do not feel like we have to go through every question. Also, because it is a conversation, I will ask follow ups based on what they share.

If the guest has not been on a show before or if they have been on very few, I will also encourage them to not worry about "perfect" answers that sound like they came straight out of a text book. Ums and ahs are fine. We will then talk through any fears they may have and how I can best support them through the conversation.

Be Kind

This may sound obvious, but it's not. Just like you would think (hope) that someone interviewing you for a job would be kind and prepared, so too you would hope someone interviewing you for their podcast would do the same. Unfortunately, this is not always the case (in either situation).

The guest is a person with stressors, fears, deadlines, and concerns which you no nothing about and yet they bring them to the interview. You don't know if they just finished a call where they lost a major customer bid or if they were just fired or if their kids have been sick for a week and they are exhausted. Regardless, put on a smile and make your primary goal to serve them well with the conversation.

Now what?

If you make these steps part of your standard procedures, it becomes easier. For me, it has been a process of hundreds of episodes and it's still a work in progress.

The magic happens when they know care about their success by preparing them and making them feel comfortable. That environment lets them share freely and gladly.

Till next time!

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