Nowadays, podcasting is no longer about just hitting the record button and chatting away.
Over time, it’s evolved into something that has its purpose rooted deeper into building a platform: a genuine space where real conversations happen, and where ideas get tossed around and debated on (sometimes, even turned on their heads).
Now, think about the heavyweights in any industry—the thought leaders. These are the folks who've been there, done that, and probably even have a t-shirt, Netflix series, or a cabinet full of awards to prove it.
When they speak, people listen. Why? Because they have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Bringing them in can elevate your podcast from being just another show to an expansive archive of must-listen episodes.
But, here's the catch: if you're a solo podcaster or diving deep into niche topics, getting these thought leaders on your show can seem impossible.
Think about it—how do you even start the conversation? What if they say no? And if they say yes, how do you make sure the conversation flows naturally and doesn't sound like a rehearsed script?
There’s no reason to hit the panic button, though.
While these challenges might seem big, they're not impossible to overcome—in fact, it all boils down to having a game plan. You need a strategy that's more than just sending out a mass email.
It's about reaching out in a way that's genuine, that shows you've done your homework, and that highlights the mutual benefits of them being on your show.
Here's everything you need to know about getting thought leaders on your show.
Before you start drafting that guest list, take a moment to understand your audience.
Who are they, really? Maybe they're ambitious millennials navigating the corporate ladder—or maybe they're tech-savvy boomers looking to stay updated.
What keeps them up at night? Is it the rapid pace of technological change or the nuances of putting a perfect, three-Michelin Star-worthy dish together?
By getting into the nitty-gritty of their world, you're setting the stage to bring in guests that they'll genuinely care about.
When you’re choosing who to get on your podcast, there are three main details you’ll need to look at:
Now that you have an idea about who you want to have an engaging conversation with, it’s time to answer another question: where do you find them?
To save you from the agony of playing a months-long game of “I-Spy” with actual people, here are the best places to get in touch with your potential guests:
In a nutshell, understanding your audience is your compass, setting a clear criteria is your map, and exploring a mix of sources is your adventure. With these key details in hand, you're all set to curate a guest list that's bound to keep your audience coming back for more.
Securing the right guests is pivotal to elevating your podcast's quality and reach. The process begins with a well-crafted invitation that resonates with potential guests.
Let's delve into the essential components of creating an invitation that is personalized, efficiently structured, and highlights mutual benefits.
The podcasting world is buzzing—and there's a sea of hosts out there, all trying to reel in the big fish. So, how do you make your bait irresistible?
The answer’s pretty simple: make it personal.
Every guest, whether they're a seasoned pro or the new kid on the block, has a story. Your job? Dig into that story. Maybe they wrote an article that had you thinking for days, or perhaps their recent podcast appearance had you hooked—mention that.
Say something like, "Hey, your piece on [Topic] really changed everything for me."
This level of personal touch not only shows you've done your homework but also makes your invite hard to resist.
We're all about working smart, right? So, have the same approach to guest outreach. Luckily, this is where templates come in—they make a world of difference when it comes to saving time, especially when you've got a long list of potential guests.
You need to make sure the template you use doesn’t end up sounding generic. After all, no one likes a robotic, copy-paste job—your potential guests, included.
So, how do you make a template work for you? Start with the basics, then sprinkle in some personal flair.
Instead of the usual "Dear Sir/Madam," try:
"Hey [Name], I just read your deep dive into [Topic], and wow, mind blown! I've got this cool community of listeners who would love to hear more about it. Fancy a chat on our podcast?"
This approach is like saying, "I see you, I value your work, and I think we can create something epic together."
Booking top guests on your show can give you a 16% bump in listeners. In fact, on average, podcasts with guests get 6,500 listeners vs podcasts without guests who only get around 5,000 listeners on average.
The benefit to you is clear.
Now, here's the golden question: What's in it for your guests?
See, top-tier guests get invites all the time—which means your pitch needs to stand out and highlight the “win-win” aspect of your ideal guest coming on the show.
Maybe your podcast reaches an audience they've been trying to connect with. Or perhaps it's a platform for them to share their latest passion project.
In short? Spell it out for them by saying something like: "Our listeners are super keen on [Topic], and having you on would be a masterclass they'd cherish."
By laying out the benefits, you're not just extending an invite—you're building a bridge to a collaboration that promises mutual growth and success.
Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party: you wouldn't just invite anyone, right?
You'd want a mix of personalities—some who can tell a great story, some who bring the laughs, and some who can spark a deep debate.
And your podcast? It's that dinner party.
So, how do you ensure you're inviting the right mix to the table? Let's go over what you need to know so you can do exactly that.
Okay, it’s time to brainstorm—and what better way to start than by building your podcast's dream guest list.
Here are a few questions that can help you fill up an empty sheet from top to bottom:
Grab a coffee, find a comfy spot, and start jotting down names. From the big shots in your industry to the underrated gems, get them all down.
And, a word of advice: dream big! You never know who might say yes—so feel free to add anyone to your list.
Alright, with your list ready, it's time to play favorites (just a bit!)
Not everyone on that list will be the right fit for your show or your audience.
So, how do you decide? Here's a quick criteria that can help you sort your roster of options out:
Once you start measuring options against your criteria, you’ll get to size your guest list down to a practical and actionable “to-contact” list that will have you moving, calling, and emailing in no time.
So, you've sent out those invites (or DMs… or carrier pigeons—we won’t judge), now it’s time to get organized.
Whether you're old-school with a trusty notebook or more into digital tools, find a system that works for you. Here's a quick guide of things to take note of:
When you’re building up to your podcast’s era of superstar-packed episodes, make sure your guests feel comfortable, prepared, and eager to engage in conversation.
Instead of discussing the weather or the latest movies, you're diving deep into niche topics—and your audience is eagerly listening in.
To help you out, here’s everything you need to know about what it takes to turn your podcast into a space where every guest feels right at home and ready to chat.
So, your guest has given you the green light—fantastic!
Now, it's time to set the stage.
Think of the preparation email as your first impression. Start by thanking them for their time (everyone appreciates a bit of gratitude), and then lay out the game plan.
Will it be a structured Q&A or more of a casual chat? Clue them in and list down the topics you're keen to explore so they can prep their thoughts as they get comfortable.
A pro tip: Include technical details—such as the software you’ll use, where your conversation will be, how many questions you’ll ask, and the likes.
This way, you're both on the same page, and there are no last-minute surprises.
Alright, let's talk about the Podcast Guest Briefer Sheet—think of it as a cheat sheet or a quick reference guide.
It's not just about your podcast's name and the episode theme, so you’ll need to dive a bit deeper and answer questions like:
If you're feeling extra helpful, maybe include a few sample questions. This will give your guest a sense of direction and make them feel even more prepared.
We've all had those "Oh no!" moments during recording day—sudden background noise, a dropped call, or even an unexpected doorbell ring. To minimize these hiccups, it's all about preparation.
Here's a quick checklist:
Pro tip: If you’re worried about the “ums” and “ahs” coming out in your podcast transcript, don’t worry! Deciphr AI’s Hobbyist and Professional plans make sure they never see the light of day.
A successful podcast episode isn't just about the content. It's about the experience—for you, your guest, and your listeners. With a bit of prep and a dash of hospitality, you're all set to create podcast magic.
So, go on, roll out that virtual red carpet for your guest and let the conversations flow.
Navigating the podcasting world can feel like you're hosting a party in a massive hall. You've set everything up, the music's playing, but how do you get people to walk through the door? Well, if you've got a thought leader as a guest, you've got a VIP.
Let's chat about how you can use their presence to get the party started.
Alright, so your episode with that amazing guest is live. Now, let's get it in front of people.
Give your guest a nudge to share the episode. This gets it extra mileage and builds excitement around your episode release.
Here's the trick—make it super easy for them to share to their heart's content:
Your guest has clout. When they speak (or tweet), people listen. So, when you're posting about your episode, tag them. It's like pointing to the VIP at your party and saying, "Look who's here!"
If you want to make the most out of your guest’s influence, tag them, engage online, and keep on posting strategically.
By encouraging your guest to leverage their influence, you're helping your episode get more listens and downloads.
Gone are the days when mass emails or generic pitches could land you a prized guest. Today, it's about forging genuine connections, showcasing authentic interest, and truly understanding the pulse of your audience.
The strategies and templates provided in this guide aren't just tools; they're a roadmap. They guide you through the intricate process of identifying, approaching, and collaborating with thought leaders in a way that's respectful and effective.
By following this roadmap, you're not just building a podcast guest list, you're curating an experience for your listeners—one that’s rich in knowledge, diverse in perspectives, and high in value.
Need a tool that can help you turn your high-value guest episodes into powerful pieces of content? Deciphr AI’s here to make the journey quicker, easier, and smoother for you—learn more about it here.
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