Be Our Guest

Why being a podcast guest might do your brand more harm than goodJohnny Ball
Podfluencer Weekly April 22, 2022
Podfluencer Weekly April 22, 2022

Imagine this… you get invited to be a guest on one of the most successful podcasts out there in your niche. They’re in the top 10 podcasts globally, not just the top 10%. They even sometimes sit at the number one spot. SWEET right? It’s a big deal and you’d be right to be flying high. For most of us that would be pretty scary, right? But, exciting too.

Here’s my question for you then: how are you going to prepare for that appearance? This is something that will put you in front of an audience of millions, maybe even tens of millions of people.

Are you going to wing it and hope for the best? Are you going to be interesting enough? Are you worried they’ll regret inviting you? I think it’s worth thinking about. How much prep do you do for the shows you go on now? If you’re anything like most people it probably ranges from not much to zero. There’s a bit of a mentality in most podcast guests, and this is a HUGE generalisation I know (before I get complaints that “I’m not like that”), there is a mentality that they are there to talk about themselves.

It doesn’t seem like a bad assumption to make though but I wonder how much you like it when other people just talk about themselves in conversation? I often chat with other podcast hosts and this isn’t often explicitly said, since we all like to have some big names on our guest lists (if we have that kind of show), but we often get bored speaking to industry celebrities and we don’t always have our best conversations with them precisely because they quite reasonably assume they are there to talk about themselves and their schtick rather than have a peer to peer conversation.

There may even be a reality of just not being high enough up the food chain as a host to be treated as an equal industry peer or that the value of the interaction is weighted much more in your favour than theirs. These are not unreasonable things but they are realities, especially to guests who will only go on shows with specifically high audience metrics. How much prep do you think Robert Cialdini would do if he were to come on my podcast? Probably little to none, and why would he? He’s already a world-renowned expert in influence and persuasion. (He’s also my #1 dream guest if anyone knows him?)

I was going to use Gary Vaynerchuck as my example but I’m not sure I could, he seems like the kind of guy who wants to be prepared for any appearance he makes and would likely have something up his sleeve to drop that would be unique to each conversation he has. I can’t be sure, but that’s the impression I get. I’m not necessarily saying be more like Gary Vee but I kind of am. It’s great to be well prepared, even as a podcast guest, for every show you do. Preparedness shows and it really pays off in the long term.

Sometimes I get asked about my own podcast style and I say that what I aim for, as a guest and host, is to have an interesting conversation like we’re grabbing a coffee or a cocktail and talking about work, our experiences and maybe some stories. The kind of conversation that if you were sitting nearby on your own would be interesting enough to make you want to tune into or maybe even join in. That’s what I aim for but sadly, I don’t always achieve it.

Some guests show up and go into presentation mode, ready to give their full TED talk. In those cases, it’s barely a conversation and the host isn’t really needed. You struggle to get a word in edgeways and spend most of the time waiting for the guest to give you an opportunity to speak. Those are not good shows.

Podcasts are not the same as public speaking presentations or webinars and should not be treated as such unless you never want to get invited back on a show. I tend not to publish those kinds of episodes and it ends up being time wasted on all sides. I just don’t feel I can put that kind of content out to my audience. If it bores me, I assume it will boor you too.

I got to have a very interesting conversation yesterday as a guest on a podcast about marketing and personal branding for podcasters. We were discussing one of the things that I see as being a danger zone in the world of podcasting right now, which is boring interviews. It’s bad for guests, bad for hosts and bad for audiences. This also means it’s bad for building a following, especially if it’s your show.

I’ve often told people that there is a huge opportunity to build a following​ and become known with podcasts and I still think that’s true but I have come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter how many podcasts you guest on if you’re boring or lacking clarity and it doesn’t matter how many podcasts you make if you’re not a good host or at least ready to put ​​the work into improving and developing. Putting out consistently substandard content is likely to do more harm than good.

I recently recorded a chat with a former US political staffer and spox who I asked about media training and what communications advice he received whilst working for a senator and it was clear from his answers that media training was a requirement and if you weren’t able to think on your feet and speak well, you would quickly be pulled away from public comms. His name is Paul Ruppert and I’ll have that chat coming up on Speaking Influence very soon.

For many podcast hosts, especially those who haven’t really ‘made it’ in podcasting yet, it would be a dream to get hired by a big name in the industry as a presenter or in pretty much any capacity but if you listen to your own performances on your shows, how likely is that to happen? Try listening with objective ears, they look a little like Mr Spock’s from Star Trek, in case you were wondering. Seriously though, try to take an objective stance on this as best you can.

Work your podcasting, as a guest and/or as a host as though you were looking to get noticed and even hired by the biggest and brightest names in podcasting. Treat your guests like they are the guests you most want (they already should be) and treat your hosts like you’re appearing on a big, big show. One day they just might be. If you want serious results in podcasting or in anything, take it seriously and be ready to put the work in. You can still have fun but you can’t get away with being half-arsed. Do that and you will get half-arsed results.

This week I invite you to listen to a voice that was seemingly made for podcasts and a coach, trainer and podcaster who, like myself, used to be airline cabin crew. We spoke a little about that and I can tell you it was a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening conversation I got to have with Daniel Tolson. I hope you will enjoy it too.


Next week I am bringing you a big name interview! You will get to hear my conversation with my mentor and friend Chris Ducker. Yes, Mr Youpreneur himself will be on the show to talk about influence and persuasion and the things that he believes have made the biggest difference to his own influence as well as what he sees most entrepreneurs struggling with and what he recommends to get out of the weeds and into success. It’s a dynamite episode not to be missed.

I like to share a song with you each week and you can take them or leave them but music has power over our emotions like few other things do. When it comes to being you, doing things your way, with your style and your unique knowledge and experience, baby, you’re the best. So, honour yourself with this wonderful performance from the magnificent Carly Simon of her song and one of my favourite Bond themes, Nobody Does it Better. Enjoy it and feel free to share your favourite Bond theme in the comments and any other feedback too. Have an amazing week.