Are Your Podcast Guests Slowing Your Series Down?

Are Your Podcast Guests Slowing Your Series Down?
Are Your Podcast Guests Slowing Your Series Down?
Concept Development

Nothing slows down the momentum of a podcast more than podcast guests. You can have an energized host, a compelling list of topics, and a crack team of recording engineers, editors, and content creators all in a crouch at the starting line. Still, if you can’t get the guest to commit to key steps from Episode planning to final approval, your wheels will be spinning in the mud. This “Podcast Guest Quicksand” can be encountered at any time, and if the process is not managed carefully, guest delays for a single Episode can set back the Series for weeks, if not months.

Managing guests is not too unlike managing key resources in any creative or technical project, so the three principles below are common, but with twists unique to podcasting.

Planning ensures consistent podcast episode publication.

You can’t also get guests slotted, in order, for two episodes a week, for an entire podcast series, without colliding with scheduling and priority realities. However, you have NO SHOT at maintaining even a semblance of consistency without developing a straw model schedule of Episode topics and guests, months in advance. We recommend a few guidelines for advance planning:

  • Try to establish a “starting point” for the entire podcast series. This should be documented in an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheets, or even better, planning software like ClickUp or If you’re working with a podcasting services provider, they’ll likely prefer commonly used tools so that data can be shared. But don’t be afraid to share your preferences.
  • Identify as many potential guests as you can that match up to the topics. Ideally, you’ll have a rolling list with topic/guest pairs that project out 6 months in advance.
  • Don’t reach out to schedule guests one at a time. Try to get these scheduled at least 3 months in advance. No one is going to be insulted by not recording immediately, and it often takes at least few weeks to get a guest’s commitment to schedule preparation and recording sessions.  

Be proactive and consistent with ongoing podcast guest follow up tasks.

Once you have the guests committed, you’ll need to 1) pre-plan the Episode, 2) schedule and execute the recording session, and 3) in some cases, obtain approval from the guest’s organization. There are things you can do to make your process efficient and repeatable:

  • Build e-mail templates for each step in the process.  Each Episode is different, but each follows a common, repeatable process. Don’t waste time reinventing the wheel for correspondence that guides the guest through the process. The more work it is for you, the more inconsistent your follow up will be, and the more likely your guest will slide along with you. Also, we provide a Guest Preparation Checklist that you can attach to your e-mail.
  • Set up calendar invites and subsequent reminders for recording sessions. This may seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many times we’ve seen guests postpone sessions because it wasn’t on their calendar, or they weren’t reminded of the date and time.
  • Understand the approval process upfront. If the client works for an organization that deals with “high consequence” information, like financial services firms or pharmaceutical companies, it’s likely they’ll need to secure approval of the Episode before it’s published. Ask the guest if this is a requirement, who is involved, and how long it will take. This will prevent delays and rework later. Ultimately, you want to manage to ONE approval cycle, not multiple rounds of editing.
  • Manage compliance risks. We’ve seen Episodes hit the proverbial brick wall because something was mentioned in recording that violated a compliance requirement. Be sure to ask your guest to ask his/her legal/compliance department if there’s any content that should be avoided in the conversation. Here’s an article that can help you navigate through compliance issues. It’s oriented to financial services but is applicable to other industries as well.

Generate excitement by engaging the podcast guest at a personal level.

No matter how enthusiastic your newly recruited guest is initially, you’re competing for this person’s personal and professional time. So, you’ll need to make preparation time both productive and fun for the guest. The discussion never goes like this, nor should it:

YOU: "Hey want to be on my podcast?"

GUEST: "Sure, what do you want to talk about?"

YOU: "How you help your clients put together a financial plan."

GUEST: "Cool, when do you want to do it?"

YOU: "How about next Thursday at 3?"

GUEST: "Awesome, see you then!"

This is a bit of an exaggeration, but this kind of dialog rarely happens, and if it did, chances are high your guest will postpone, or come in unprepared. Here’s what you should do:

Engage your guest in a content brainstorming session. While you’ll want to provide some structure to your Episode’s dialog, you want the guest to be talking about what excites them. If they have an active role in defining the line of questions, they’ll be more excited about participating, and hence less likely to postpone recordings sessions or slow roll any post-recording steps.

Offer to promote your guests and their accomplishments. We create “Show Notes” for each of our client’s Episodes that represent a written record of what was discussed and are used for various marketing purposes. You should use that time and space to promote the accomplishments and credentials of the guest. One way to do this is to embed online links and references to offline resources associated with the guest. Example include:

  • Web or printed articles published by the guest
  • Guest bio and/or LinkedIn page
  • Events at which the guest served as a speaker or resource
  • Awards the guest has received
  • Social media properties

In some instances it might make sense to use a podcasting services that focus on recruiting guests, such as Interview Valet or Podcagency. These companies retain a searchable database of folks who not only have experience as interviewees, but they like being a podcast guest! It’s a triple win: 1) you get the guest you want in terms of profile, 2) they’re already down the podcast guest learning curve, and 3) they’re less likely to delay or cancel.  

So, to sum it up: The three key ingredients for staying out of Podcast Guest Quicksand are 1) advanced planning, 2) organized follow up, and 3) personal engagement. Consistently applying these practices will ensure that your Episodes stay on schedule and your listeners get the steady stream of content that keeps them coming back for more.

We’d love to start the conversation with you about your own podcast aspirations. We welcome you to visit our website at, or reach out to us via our Contact form or at 

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