11 Steps to Creating Meaningful Connections With Your Guests

A Life Worth Living | Jul 21, 2023

Over the last 9 years, I’ve published 410 episodes across my 2 main shows, Podcast Junkies (PJ) in 2014 and Vertical Farming Podcast (VFP) in 2020.

In today’s letter, I’m sharing the exact 11-part framework I’ve developed for creating deep and meaningful connections with your podcast guests. I encourage you to try this out on your next interview.

If you haven’t started your show yet, this will be even more helpful as you won’t have any bad habits to break. 😉

Who AM I?

This brief overview of my background will be helpful for anyone who’s entering my world for the very first time.

But for regular readers, there may also be a nugget or 2 here that you haven’t heard before.

As of this letter, I’m 52 years old. Why do I bother telling you that?

Because I want anyone who’s reading this who thinks they may be too old or that this online marketing thing is a game for young cats to understand that we’re all on our own timelines. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

As I share the story of my podcast success, keep in mind that I had ZERO presence in either niche prior to starting.

Since launching, VFP has been ranked #1 in its category. I was able to secure $9K in sponsorship PRIOR to launching Ep. 1 ($80K to-date). Last October, my sponsor Cultivatd flew me to Dubai to attend an indoor farming conference and this year, I’m being flown out to the VertiFarm conference in Germany. 🤯

My success can be attributed directly to the framework I’m about to share with you.

Before I jump in, I thought it would be helpful to list out 3 simple mantras that drive all of my podcast conversations:

  1. Respect your guest

  2. Honor your guest

  3. Celebrate your guest

Pair that with a commitment to constant improvement and you get a powerful combination.

1. First Impressions Count

For me it all starts here.

I was seriously influenced by Joey Coleman’s book Never Lose a Customer Again

What I learned from the book is how your future clients, prospects or, in my case guests, are making a value judgment about your show before you’re even aware of it.

Now I know what you’re thinking…

“Harry, how do I have any control over my potential guest’s perception of my show?”

Joey talks about the Acclimate stage, where a potential customer interacts with your brand + you're not even aware of it.

I applied that to my podcast guests' experience.

2. Set the Stage

Use SavvyCal or a similar scheduling tool to create a link that makes the booking experience world-class.

Nothing screams ‘amateur hour’ more than that dreaded back and forth dance of emails to figure out your respective schedules.

Once they’ve booked time on your calendar. redirect them to a form that collects their social handles, headshot and bio which you'll use later when promoting the episode

Most podcast guests typically have no idea what to expect when they show up on a show. That’s a really bad experience. This is how you avoid it.

3. Prep the Experience

High quality audio and video is a must. And no, Zoom won’t cut it.

SquadCast takes care of all the heavy lifting + progressively uploads each channel as lossless audio/video during the conversation.

Prior to the interview I send guests an overview of what to expect. This ensures there are no surprises.

Feel free to duplicate this template, which I created using Notion: http://pcjk.es/guestprep. This is where it gets next level.

4. Roll Out the Red Carpet

I typically like to hit record once the guest is on as I sometimes capture gems, but I quickly remind them that the interview isn’t live.

I let them know it's OK to do a 2nd take, break for water, etc. I want my guests to feel completely at ease.

For the first 5–10 minutes, keep the conversation light.

I’m looking to make a personal connection as it will relax them and have them be more likely to open up if you ask a provoking question later in the interview.

Your responsibility as a host is to manage the conversation flow.

I once heard someone say that every minute of your episode should be providing value to the listener.

Period. End of story.

Here’s how you do that.

5. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Lead with “Tell me a story about…”

Like most podcasters, I started with my list of stock questions.

On one of my very early interviews, I booked a famous podcaster who only provided 30 minutes windows. There was no time to waste, so I ended up ditching the questions and just having a conversation. It went so well that I've been building that muscle ever since.

Don't stop there.

6. Make Silence Your Friend

You will inevitably ask your guest a thought-provoking question that is followed by a period of silence...

This is where having that face-to-face interaction is key. These moments are gold.

Wait for it…

When considering deep questions, the guest is thinking to themselves:

  • Do I even want to answer this question?

  • Do I want to give them the stock answer?

  • Do I share how I 'really' feel?

Resist the urge to jump in.

Gold awaits...

OK, now you're ready to go deeper

7. Pull Those Threads!

Be curious. Listen intently.

Keep that in mind for the moment when a guest randomly mentions an experience that is ‘off topic’; there’s likely a reason.

I guarantee your listener is thinking same thing.

Dig deeper.

There's one additional thing that will separate you from the pack.

8. Don’t Forget the Listener

There are 3 people in every podcast interview:

  1. The Host

  2. The Guest

  3. The Listener

Never lose sight of that.

And yes, ‘Listener’ is singular. There’s one person listening to your episode at a time. You’re not on stage in front of a crowd.

During your conversation, if there is:

  • a topic

  • a phrase

  • an acronym

  • an industry term

you think may not be common, say “ Hey [Guest], for the benefit of our Listener, can you explain what that means?”

Now it’s time to deepen the relationship.

9. Leave Time to Connect

You’ve done the hard work. Your ideal guest is on the show.

Don’t lose the opportunity to engage with them after the interview is done.

Let them know when you’ve stopped the recording. You’d be surprised at how that relaxes the guest.

Use those precious few moments to connect with your guest and thank them again for sharing their story (and their time).

Ask them how the experience was and if there was anything you could have done better.

10. Build Your Network

Ask your guest if they can think of anyone in their network who would be a good fit for the show.

If it went really well, ask them if they’d be willing to record a quick show promo (props to next week’s Podcast Junkies guest, Ben Albert for this genius idea, 👀👇)

At this point, there’s only one thing left to do…

11. Value Their Time

You NEVER want a guest to work harder to promote your show than you, since they've already invested their time with you to begin with.

Once the show is live, send your guest an email, thanking them for sharing their story with your audience.

Provide them with links to all your socials, along with marketing copy they can cut and paste into their social channels

Duplicate this example of what we do at FullCast for our clients using one of my favorite tools, Notion.

On every single interview I think to myself:

"How do I make this the best interview possible?”

There's a hugely important lesson here.

While it’s an aspirational goal to get to hundreds of thousands of downloads across my 2 shows one day, that is completely out of my control.

Instead, I focus 100% of my effort and attention on the ONE thing I have control over — my guest’s experience.

Obsession is an understatement.

Keep in mind that everything I said above applies to me and my shows and what feels natural to me.

It’s a set of guidelines, a framework for you to use as a starting point. By all means, don’t forget to add your own personality.

Phew! 😅

Treat Your Guests Like Gold

Let's recap,

  1. First Impressions Count

  2. Set The Stage

  3. Prep The Experience

  4. Roll Out The Red Carpet

  5. Ask Open Ended Questions

  6. Be Comfortable With Silence

  7. Pull The Threads

  8. Pull In The Listener

  9. Leave Time to Connect

  10. Build Your Network

  11. Value Their Time

Remember, if you're serious about becoming a better podcast host:

  • Study the art of conversation

  • Obsess over getting better with each interview

  • Ignore metrics

  • Make it your goal that every episode be a 10 out of 10

When you make that your focus, growth comes naturally.

🙏 with gratitude,


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What I Created This Week

🎧 Podcast Junkies sponsored by Focusrite

🙋‍♀️ P.S. When You're Ready...

Here are a few of ways I can help…

✡️ Download a free copy of my Voice Expansion Blueprint. The most powerful way to transmit and elevate your voice is with a podcast. This plan will outline for you the pillars of success needed prior to the launch of your show!

🎥 Watch my free video, 5 Key Pillars of a Profitable Podcast that every business owner needs to know prior to launching their show.

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