Podcast Interview Etiquette 101: 7 Unspoken Rules Every Host Must Know

The beauty of podcasting is that there aren’t any rules when it comes to creating your show. There are no barriers to entry. Anyone with a smartphone or laptop can record an interview with ease. The problem arises when podcasters think etiquette goes out the window too. Just like Tyler Durden’s Fight Club, there are unspoken rules when it comes to podcast interview etiquette.

Not knowing the rules will get you tossed, or worse, blacklisted to the podcast hall of shame. OK. OK. Maybe that’s a bit too much. But you get what I’m saying. Do these things right and you’ll be well on your way to podcast interview greatness. Do them wrong and…

  1. Prepare Your Guest

Tell them what they need to know, preferably before they show up to for the interview. The best way to do this is through a pre-interview email series or with a show page. Don’t underestimate the importance of the pre-interview! This is the perfect opportunity to debrief your guest on the show flow, ask about hard stops, and double check name pronunciations.

  1. Create Rockstars

Our job as hosts are to tee up our guests to be viewed in the best possible light. Simply put, everybody wants to feel like somebody. Humans want to know we’re appreciated. Having a show gives you the opportunity to do that. Get press images from your guest to create a hero graphic for each episode. Pull out relevant quotes from the interview to share on social media. We love quotes, especially when we’re the one’s being quoted. We look smart. Guaranteed retweet.

  1. Do Your Research

Don’t skimp when it comes to research. Read your prospective guest’s book, blog or go through their Twitter feed and see what they’re sharing. When you know what makes someone tick and can speak to their deepest wants, needs and desires, it’s inevitable that they’ll like you. To take it even a step further dig to find a common bond or struggle. Next, it’s on to what I call interview bait. What recent events would they be hyped to talk about? Book release, product launch, change in careers. Remember everyone’s favorite subject is themselves. This will help with promo on the backend as well.

  1. Don’t Show Up Late

Sounds like common sense, but common sense isn’t so common. My buddy Chris Ducker called out two podcasters for this last year. They didn’t even send an email or give him a heads up! This is blatant disrespect. You don’t want this kind of dirt on your name. Best to collect both a phone number and email in case your guest doesn’t check their email regularly. If you have do have to cancel (and yes, life happens), let them know at least 24 hours in advance so they can use the time slot productively. Leverage scheduling apps to facilitate the booking process.

  1. Don’t Go Over Your Time

Successful people are busy. When someone takes time out of their day you need to be sure you’re reciprocating the favor. Don’t waste their time. I always ask if there’s going to be a hard stop so I can direct the flow of the conversation. Leave a buffer to connect with every guest after the recording stops. This is where the magic happens if you’ve done your job as a host. And a great opportunity to ask for a referral.

  1. Maintain Control of the Conversation

Know what you want and more importantly what your audience needs. Avoid fluff and going off on tangents as much as possible. Pace the conversation. Too fast and you’re out of gas before you hit finish, too slow and you drag out the conversation and engagement tapers off. I aim for my interviews to be 20-25 minutes because it’s just around the average U.S. commute time and we’ve been programmed to live by 30 minute chunks of time. 30 minute lunches, 30 minute sitcoms, 30 minute gym sessions… you get where I’m going here?

  1. Avoid Uncomfortable Questions

If you plan to ask something that will make your guest uncomfortable, discuss in the pre-interview phase before hitting record. For MicScience case study episodes, I want to know what impact podcasting has on the bottom line. I ask all my guest in the pre-interview if they’re comfortable discussing revenue numbers. If they aren’t, I ask if we can discuss a range or use something that would be a good frame of reference. A good rule of thumb: Would you be uncomfortable if the roles were reversed? Then it’s probably something you need to address. Family, politics and religion fall into this category too unless that’s your thing.

As you can see, podcast interview etiquette can have a critical impact on the success of your interviews, and ultimately your ability reach out and book future guests. We don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes we’ll slip up, but when I have the fundamentals down I have a frame of reference to correct. Always remember the importance of podcast interview etiquette.

About Vernon Foster II

Vernon is Founder & CEO of Pod Parrot and Host of MicScience. He’s a highly sought after podcast educator, speaker and consultant. Vernon continually seeks out new ways to innovate and strategically leverage podcasting as a viable platform for startups, CEOs, and professionals.

Have a question? Feel free to connect with Vernon to evaluate and discuss your podcast business strategy at: 1(888) 307-1775 or http://podparrot.com/contact or check out some of his best articles and case studies at: http://podparrot.com/blog.


Have something we missed? Let us know on Twitter @ringr_us. Record high quality interviews from anywhere on ANY DEVICE – walking the dog, sitting on the beach or in your home office or professional studio! Download RINGR now to give it a try.


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