Guest booking is one of the most essential aspects of running a podcast. You need to make this process as friction-free as possible. This means having your Zoom settings all set, your homework fully researched, and your guest’s information written down. Join Tom Hazzard as he shares some easy-to-do tips so that you can provide your guests with the best podcast experience. Discover some Zoom tips for automatic recording. Find out how you can get guest info seamlessly. And, learn how to create a simple, yet organized, guest booking system today.
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Tips To Make Podcast Guest Booking Easier To Please Guests
Simplified Guest Booking
I want to share with you some things to consider for your podcasts, those of you who interview guests, whether you do it regularly in every episode or periodically or occasionally. Simplifying the guest booking process can be a way you can impress your guests and make it easy for them and make them want to be a guest on your show rather than annoying them. I know that last part is going to sound a little bit, maybe disconcerting and annoying to them. Does my process for booking guests annoy them? It depends on how you are doing it.
I will tell you that podcast guests will be much happier if the process is friction-free and pretty simple. You do not make them do an awful lot of homework, especially to schedule that time with you and get to the point of the fun part of being on your show. I am going to give you some examples and some pros and cons. Honestly, there is no absolute right or wrong way to do this, but I do think it is important that all you podcast hosts out there consider this. Evaluate your own process and hold up a mirror to yourself. That is one of the hardest things it is for anybody to do. Especially in podcasting, we all like to think our show is great and everybody loves it. Why wouldn’t you want to be a guest on my show?
Have you gone through your own guest booking process? Have you tried to actually go through the process as if you are a guest? If you have not, I highly recommend you do it or have someone else that you know and trust who is willing to go through it, even if they are not going to be a guest. Test it out and get their feedback because there is a fine line. I know that as a podcast host, I do not want to have to chase down a guest to get their headshot, their bio, and some of the things that I need to be able to give to my production team to do the work that I need them to do so we can promote the episode and give proper social media share assets to the guests so hopefully they will share it.
I want my job as a host to be easy. For that, I have set up a booking calendar link that requires them to fill out certain pieces of information and provide things like their headshot and their bio, social share, and social media handles, things like that in order for them to be able to book a time on my calendar. That is important. You do not have to send five emails back and forth trying to schedule something, and then they do not send you what they need to. They get too busy and the email gets buried. After that, you may find you have recorded the episode, but they still have not provided you with what you need, and you are chasing them down before it is going to publish.
Make Booking Easy
It is a bad situation and frustrating for us, the host. I understand that certainly from the perspective of a host. When it comes to the guest, if we have a lot of obstacles in the path for them to even get to the fun part, we can annoy them so much. They are like, “Forget it. It is not worth it to me. I am not even booking this call.” I am not going to out anyone in this show. If you are hoping I am in a dish on this is a show that is not doing it, I am not going to do that. I am going to share some experiences anonymously. Some have been with clients of ours at Podetize and some have been experiences that I have had being a guest on other shows and other things that people have shared with us.
We had a customer that I thought was one of the best cover arts that I have ever seen for a podcast. I liked it. In their guest booking process, first, you had to go to a page that had a questionnaire. It is like an application to be a guest. There are times when that is appropriate. I am going to come back to that. For the moment, if you are a relatively new podcaster, you have been doing it for, let’s say, less than six months, and you are putting up this questionnaire that feels more like an application where the guest has to justify why they are worthy of being a guest on your show, then answer all sorts of questions before either they are going to be able to book or if you are going to get back to them later, they can’t even book the time.
You have them fill out this form to even get past that gate to, at some point after that, be able to book on your schedule. You are not going to get an awful lot of guests, or a lot of maybe the ones you would want to have, being willing to complete that. They may pawn off something like that too if they have an admin, an executive assistant, or something that would fill out that form. You will get secondhand information, but then if you annoy their executive assistant, that is not going to help you very much either. You want to think about the context of where you are in your podcasting journey. Is this a brand-new podcast? Do you have a big name? Do you have a large following?
Do you have a deep list of potential guests that you can draw from? Maybe you are in a better position to have people apply, but usually with a new podcaster and with a host that, even if you are known well in certain circles, but not in a broader sense, you want to make this easy for people. For some of them, it may be easier for you to pick up the phone and have a call, “Would you like to be on the podcast and schedule it?” You might do in those early days want to collect what you need from them later or ask if they would be willing to email it to you and hope they do and have to chase them down later if they do not. You have got to think about where you are in the context of things.
A Skype Experience
I do recommend you do want to organize yourself. It actually makes a good impression, a professional one, that you are organized. It is like, “Here is how you book to be on the podcast. Go to this link.” Collect some basic information and a few of those critical things are needed to make the process easier so you can follow through with the production and communication of everything you need to when you start having these complex applications or if you are going to make them connect a certain way. I had this happen several years ago. It was a little more accepted. Now it is not. “I only do all my podcast interviews on Skype. If you are not a Skype member, you need to get an account with Skype, and you are going to connect with me there.”
I have still had that happen. Skype is pretty old school in the world of video meetings across the internet. I have met lots of people who do not want to go sign up and get another account somewhere in order to be able to be interviewed by you on your podcast. I still have an old Skype account, but I can’t even remember the last time I logged into it. I would have to look up my username and password somewhere.
That was probably before I was using a password manager, like LastPass, where it would be pretty easy to type it in and go. Even things like that will be annoying, can be annoying, or create friction and tension with your guests, which again is not in the spirit of the kind of relationship you want to foster with the guest, especially if your show is one where your ideal guests, hopefully, someday will become your ideal client or customer.
The last thing you want to do is make it hard for them. If there are any systems, processes, or tools you use that can make it easier for that guest, like giving them a single link that they click for many phones or computer browsers, and they are right in the meeting with you. Obviously, that is going to be a better experience.
The other thing that is going to make the process in terms of guest booking go well is if your booking calendar is already setting up and providing them the actual meeting link, whether it is a unique one or a regular recurring one. I do recommend you use a system that creates a unique meeting ID for every single podcast episode. In that way, you do not accidentally have somebody come into your meeting as a party crasher.
Let me explain that a little more. Let’s say you are going to use Zoom for most of your guest interviews, and you give people your main personal meeting ID, which you can do. It will work. That is a meeting that you, the owner of the Zoom account, the host of the show, can launch at any time. You do not have to create a unique meeting ID.
You could give every guest the same meeting ID, and you might think, “That is a lot simpler for me.” It would be. The problem is if somebody gets their signals crossed their schedule mixed up, you are having this great conversation with a guest, and all of a sudden, somebody pops into your Zoom meeting which you were not expecting because you forgot to choose that little option where you can lock the meeting.
There is a way to use a personal meeting ID for every recording and then prevent a party crasher from happening, but you have to remember to do it. If you do not have a checklist of things which I, by the way, also recommend that you have a checklist of, “Here are all the things that I need to do as I get my guests on the call before I hit record and start having that conversation, recording that episode.”Podcast guests will be much happier if the guest booking process is friction-free and simple. Click To Tweet
A checklist is not a bad idea, but most people won’t do that. It is what I always suggest when you are using a tool like Zoom. It is not that Zoom is the only tool. Zoom is not paying me anything. I do not have a dog in this fight, but there are many tools out there that you can use. I do recommend, for instance, that you set that system to record automatically.
I can’t tell you how many times I have had people reach out to me by email or call me on the phone. They are practically crying because they had this wonderful discussion with this guest and forgot to hit the record. They asked me, “Is there any way we can get that back?” As if somewhere in the universe magically, this call got recorded, even though they forgot to hit record.
I do not know why people think that that actually can happen, but it does not happen. I know this is not part of the booking process per se when I am telling you that a guest is going to be incredibly annoyed when you have to tell them to either you can’t publish their episode or you are going to ask them if they would rebook and do it all over again with you because you forgot to press record.
Zoom Booking Settings
That is a difficult conversation to have. If this was a guest that you are trying to get to hire you or be a client of yours, you are not going to succeed with that one. As a part of your guest booking process, create this friction-free path to getting them from first agreeing and saying, “Yes, I am willing to be a guest on your show,” to then actually showing up on that call for the recording.
Whatever booking calendar system you use, whether it is a Calendly, OnceHub, or something else, they pretty much all have an integration with Zoom that you can connect so that when they create the appointment for that podcast interview, it is going to create a unique meeting ID that nobody else has. You will never have the potential of a party crasher coming in and interrupting what otherwise is a great conversation. That is one important point.
The second important point is the Zoom settings can be set so that when it starts, it automatically starts recording from the beginning so that you cannot possibly forget to record it. That is a setting for those of you. I am not going to get into the in and out technical details but to give you a point in the right direction, this is not a setting that you do in your local Zoom app on your computer. This is a setting for not only the meeting type that is a podcast interview meeting but also sets it to record automatically.
You have to go on the web to Zoom.us, log into your Zoom account on their website, and there are then settings for the different types of meeting events you can create. You are going to create one that is specifically for podcast interviews. It will create a unique meeting ID every time, and you will set it to automatically record.
Another technical tip because it is on my mind, we still recommend you record locally if you are using Zoom on your local computer and not record in the cloud. That also is one of those settings that you can set in the meeting type. Even though it is something you are doing in the settings on Zoom on the web, it actually will create that meeting type and automatically record locally through your computer. This is a set this meeting time up once and done connecting it with Calendly.Make sure you have a checklist of all the things you need to do before your guest goes on the call. Click To Tweet
Getting Guest Info
Any time someone books that interview with you, it is going to set it all up for you automatically. It is going to email the guest. A couple of other suggestions for making this guest booking process, one that is going to impress the guest, which is what you want, whether you are mining them to be a client, or that is someone you want to show them respect because they are giving you their time for free most likely to be a guest on your show.
As you are asking these questions and providing information, their headshot, their web address, their email, their bio, all this good stuff, you can actually have information within there that says you can give them a little announcement like, “This is so that we can properly present you in social media and on our website and give you the credit that you deserve as a guest.”
You can give them a good reason why you are collecting some of this information. You can do that within the booking calendar or you can have it be a page on your website where it is an application they fill out, and then it will book. You can do it within a lot of the calendar programs directly, but then it is a little more impressive as in the follow-up, too.
A lot of these systems will obviously send a calendar invite to them, but it can also send that guest an email. If you give them a little information about what to expect with the recording session and some tips, you can say, “If you are new to being a podcast guest,” so that they know you are not being condescended. If you are not new, they can skip it.
Do Your Own Homework
If they are new to being a podcast guest, you give them a few tips to prepare them for what to expect and recommendations for best practices for recording that they use a headset to listen. If they have a USB microphone or something even better, please use that. A couple of these things, let them know if it is going to be a video recorded and published as well so that they know, “This is going to be a video. Be aware,” so that they know, “I got to think about what is behind me. Do I want to show that? Is that okay?” Friction-free is important. Here is the thing that is one of the most annoying things I have ever experienced as a guest.
If the host questions on this questionnaire, application, or in the process before even booking the appointment, if that guest is asking me, “What things should I ask you about? What things do you want me to ask you?” You are not willing to do a little homework or have a pre-call with me. You have not already figured that out. If you want me to do the work of telling you how to conduct your own podcast, I may run the other direction and say, “No, I am not interested.” I find that sometimes a lot of podcasters do that. They try to be podcast hosts. They try to make it so that instead of showing that guests respect by having done a little homework on them, a little googling, go to their own website, and learn a little about them.
Why did you want them on the show in the first place? Hopefully, there was some reason you had some curiosity. You should be coming to that with your own plan for what to talk about. That may have involved a call ahead of time to have a discussion to formulate some things if they are willing or maybe you met them at an event. Hopefully, you had some conversation, but if your form is generic and is probing them deeply, there is a difference between respecting them and requesting that they provide some information for accuracy, or if there is anything new and noteworthy that maybe is not obvious from checking them out on their website or looking at their social media profile or whatever, that is fine.
Show Past Episodes
As to what questions should I ask you or what do you want me to ask you, who is the host of the show? Are they the host of the show or are you the host of the show? You should not be asking your guests to do the work of preparing whatever questions you are going to ask them. I have seen shows do this. To me, as a podcast host, that is annoying. I am going to be like, “No. Next.” The other thing you can do is to show an example in the guest booking process. If you are using a form on your website or in some other tool, a type form, or whatever you might have, you can show them an example of a past podcast host and all of the different things that you do for them to make them look good.
Again, this can show them the good reason why it is worth it for them to spend a little time and provide their headshot. I do not know if you want their logo for their company or provide a little more information because you are going to make them look good and give them materials to promote after the episode is live. They might see you have a quote graphic of something you said about a past guest that made that guest look good that is flattering. They might think, “That is great. I could share that on social. I better think about a good quote, say something profound, or give them a reason to highlight me.” Showing them an example of some of the things you do for social media assets.
Listen To Your Own Show
Maybe that is an audiogram, a video meme, a video clip, a quote graphic, and lots of potential things. Setting expectations for the value and the exposure they are going to get. That will make them not only willing to provide the information but even more excited to be a guest on your show. Depending on your niche, your podcast, and your unique goals for your show, you may think of some additional things that might impress the guest or the potential guest or make more of a friction-free booking process but think about it. Again, it is one of these things I have said in a past episode that shocks me. How many podcasters never listened to their own episodes?
I am not saying you have to listen to every episode. No one wants to listen to themselves week after week, but spot-checking them. Many people do not listen to their own show and they do not realize, “That intro is a mile long. I want to shorten that up if people are listening episode after episode and they have heard that every time.” It is the same type of thing here with the guest booking process. If you have one, go through it.
Have your mom, sister, or somebody go through it who you trust if you do not want to do it yourself, but I would recommend you do it and say, “Does this all make sense? Is this one may be annoying?” By the way, last little tip about this guest booking process, make it easy for your guests to check a box that says, “I agree to be recorded and have my interview published.”
There are all kinds of different ways people have this, but get them to have to check a box, which is a release. They are acknowledging and giving you permission to record them and publish them. Do not make that like a book or they have to sign a release. You can do that if you want to. Some people who I have met, who are podcasters and lawyers, go to that extent, but that cannot put the best tone in place that energetically the energy around, “I am signing my life away to an attorney to be on their podcast or to anybody.” I like to have a pretty clear statement and a couple of sentences about acknowledging they are going to be recorded and they are giving permission to do it.
They can’t even book the appointment unless they do that. It is friction-free. They are just checking a box, that is all. If they do not check that box when they try to book the call, it will say, “Please complete all the required steps,” they have to go and check that box. You are putting them on notice and making it clear. Again, friction-free. That is my recommendation.
That is probably enough for this episode. How much can I go on about the guest booking process? The message is to please simplify it, make it smooth, friction-free, and you can impress your guests with how organized and professional you are, even if you are not organized and professional. I got news for you. I think I am professional, but I am not all that organized. I need lots of other tools to organize things for me. This is one you can do one time. It is organized, professional, and impresses people. Thanks for reading. We will be back next time with another, hopefully, helpful, useful, and valuable episode for you. Until then, have a good one.