Whether you ask someone to speak at an event, or ask someone for a podcast interview, it is important to know how to request someone’s time.
Showing due respect will help you
Everyone likes compliments. Respectfully highlight their accomplishments and explain why they are the right person. Let them know the value they can bring to your audience and why you want their time.
Good invitations are clear, easy to read, and contain all background information your guest needs to decide in your favor.
Keep it short
People do not have time to read essays. Keep to the point, and make sure you clearly ask for what you are looking for.
A helpful hint: use a combination of bullet points and bold words to make it easier for your reader to get the gist of an email by quickly skimming it.
Do not fear rejection
You do not know if someone will reject your offer until you ask them. You may be surprised by the number of people who will accept your invitations. Dream big and send requests to people even if you think they are out of your reach. You never know who will say “yes.”
Cast a big net. Ask a wide variety of interesting people, and do not be afraid to follow up if there is no initial response. But remember, there is a fine line between persistence and annoyance.
If someone politely declines, find another person to ask.
If your potential speaker responds, always follow up. If the response is positive, thank them for accepting your request.
“A prompt, generous letter of thanks can seal a commitment which otherwise might disappear when the going gets rough,” writes Leadership Institute President Morton Blackwell in his Laws of the Public Policy Process.
Ideally, you will send them a calendar reminder and follow up again at least twice before the event.
If the response is negative, nevertheless send a thank you. Thank them for considering the request. Try to leave the interaction on a positive note. You may be able to find a win-win scenario in the future.
Structure your request
Do not overthink it. Here is a simple structure to make sure you are concise while getting to the point:
Greeting, introduce yourself and your cause, ask for what you want the interviewer to do, include details such as dates and topic points, include the value that the speaker/interviewer will bring, thank them for their consideration, and sign off.