I have not been able to publish any podcast episodes recently. It is not a case of a lack of interviews to publish. In fact, I’ve got a few interview recordings lying idle on my computer. The problem has been finding the time to edit. I mean, like most African podcasters, the reality of juggling podcasting and a ‘real’ job has been a daunting task and for some weeks now, I have been falling behind.
The Scorned Guest
My thought had always been that the people I was hurting were the listeners. Indeed, our listeners are often said to be our first priority as podcasters but the truth is, our guests should be held in the same high regard —maybe even more. I wasn’t privy to this mentality until something happened a few days ago that brought this more to focus.
A guest I had interviewed a few months back sent me a WhatsApp message. He was unhappy with me. He vented that after creating time from his busy schedule to speak with me, I did not think it courteous to get back to him after our discussion. He ended the message with these words: “you have blocked other people from ‘that’ opportunity”.
A Remorseful Host
Those words from him cut me in bits. He was right and I knew it. I had trivialized the importance of his time. I know that as podcasters, we (at least most of us) do not ghost our guests deliberately. But when this happens, I reckon that it is usually one of two things: bad communication or sheer negligence.
For example, in my case, after interviewing a guest, I usually let them know that I would inform them and share a link to the podcast episode when it has been published. However, what I often fail to let them know is the date I hope to publish the episode. This is an issue because sometimes episode scheduling might not go as initially planned. But even that is no excuse for a lack of communication.
The Proactive Solution
Communication is key and I strongly believe that as a podcaster, the onus rests on me to be able to communicate with my guest after the recording when they might expect to find the episode published. A lot of guests are often excited to be on a podcast and it’s understandable that the anticipation can be high and for the right reasons too.
That’s why, going forward, I intend to always let my guests know the date I intend to publish and update them if there’s a change of date or if there’s any technical glitch that will hinder me from publishing the episode altogether. I am aware that this advice will be more difficult to follow since sometimes plans can change, but I intend to try.
The Intentional Solution
On the flip side, if it is the sort of scenario where the guest did not perform well or you are not satisfied with the direction of the recording, you should not be tempted to just go mute. This might seem like the easiest way but remember that whoever your guest is, they sacrificed their time for you and they deserve better. They deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect.
The better route in such a scenario might be to send a message thanking the guest for creating the time to speak with you. Let the guest know that during post production, you realized that the points covered were not in line with your production guide. This does not guarantee that the guest would be receptive to these reasons, but it at least lets them know you can be professional even when things don’t go as planned.
In The End…
In the end, all I want to say is, don’t be like me. I know it sounds a bit on the nose but like I mentioned earlier, when a guest told me how badly he felt I treated him, I was hurt. I hope to never make another guest ever feel that way again. But sometimes we can’t be too certain about what might happen or not happen. But with effective communication, which ideally should be something we as podcasters should excel at, we can avoid having to make guests feel scorned.
If you have ever been ghosted before —relationship-wise— you’d know that’s not a feeling worth making another person go through. It’s worse even as podcasters because a lot of what we do is hinged on being able to use our platforms to change and make lives better through the stories we tell, interviews and so much more. So, it is important that we ensure we try to be better. I hope I can take my own advice. More importantly, I hope you can too. DO NOT GHOST YOUR GUESTS.