Guest who? Keeping track of who's coming on your podcast

How tech tools can take the trauma out of managing podcast guests

One of the greatest joys about creating podcasts is that they give you the opportunity to meet so many new and fascinating people.

Bringing guests onto a podcast is an absolute delight – as we've discovered since launching PodPod as we’ve heard from an eclectic mix from Alastair Campbell and the founders of My Dad Wrote A Porno to Deborah Meaden and the creators of Decode.

They provide different perspectives, they stimulate interesting conversations and, if they have an existing fanbase, bringing a guest on can even boost your own listens.

There’s an art to sourcing good podcast guests, and it can be challenging to find candidates who will fit the established tone and dynamic of the podcast while still bringing something new to the table, particularly if you don’t have a wide range of personal contacts to draw on. However, once you’ve found some appropriate guests to invite onto your podcast, keeping track of them can be even trickier.

You’ll need to make sure you know who you’ve agreed to have on your show, when you’re recording the interview, what points you’re going to talk about, and when the episode is released – which can quickly get confusing when dealing with multiple guests.

This is challenging enough for shows like PodPod which speak only to one guest per week; for magazine format shows which may include multiple interviews in the same episode, it must be an even bigger nightmare to organise.

There are some ways podcasters can make it easier on themselves – you can split your podcast into seasons, giving yourself space to take care of all the organisation, prep and recording in advance, rather than doing everything week-to-week. This also lends itself to a thematic approach, where each season revolves around a single central topic, making it easier to plan the content of each discussion.

For those that need to respond to social trends or current events, and can’t pre-record episodes so far in advance, there’s always the option of delegating the task entirely, to a producer and/or guest booker that can dedicate more time to it, but this will incur added overheads that your budget may not be able to support.

Many podcasters are forced to undertake the day-to-day tasks of guest management themselves, but there are technology tools that can make this simpler and less stressful. Ruthless calendar management is one option, but this may prove confusing or labour intensive. Another option is the humble spreadsheet, with columns for guest, recording date, transmission date and topic notes.

Personally however, my favourite platform for this task is Trello. It’s a project management tool based on the Kanban system for workflow visualisation, which is popular in startups and tech companies. In brief, Kanban works by using cards to represent tasks, and organising them into vertical lists representing different stages of a workflow.

For example, you might have lists for planned guests, guests with a finalised recording date, and guests whose interviews you’ve recorded. Each individual guest is represented by a card, and when you’ve completed a given stage, you move the card from one list to the next. It may sound complicated, and it can take a little while to get your head around how it works, but it can be a fabulous tool for organisation.

One thing I particularly like about it is the way you can assign specific team members and due dates to each card, and you can also use various filters to sort and display cards for easier visibility. Along with a calendar view, colour-coordinated labels and a raft of integrations with third-party services, it’s an incredibly flexible system for those that want to deeply customise it.

It’s not a perfect system, of course, and it’s not suited to every scenario — in fact, we use the aforementioned spreadsheet method to track the guests we have planned for future PodPod episodes – but it’s my go-to recommendation for anyone who feels the urge to tear their hair out any time they find themselves losing track of who they’re meant to be talking to and when.