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At the beginning of my career, I had to wear a suit, which made me feel like a kid playing dress-up. I never got used to it. I worked in a skyscraper near the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.and remember walking through our lobby one day with a colleague. He started asking my opinion and said something like, “Since you’re the communications expert.” And I thought, “I am?” I may have even said that loud.
I didn’t feel like an expert at the time, but in his eyes I was. And I was able to help him because I did know more about communications than he did.
As podcasters, we might not always feel like we know what we’re doing, but we are often at least a step ahead of most of our guests. Our interviewees are looking to us for guidance, so let’s give it them.
Don't stay quiet when you hear a guest shuffling papers or typing. You shouldn't have to edit bad audio because your guest was noisy. Politely ask your guests to stop making noise. They will appreciate that you made them aware of the problem. They have no idea you can hear those sounds. They’re looking to you for guidance as the professional.
Your guests see you as the podcasting pro, so act the part.
Write it down: “I am the kind of podcaster who will do what it takes to create a quality show my audience loves.” This means speaking up when something goes wrong and fixing it in the moment.
f your internet signal drops and cuts off something brilliant your guest said, don’t hope it will magically sound OK later. Ask them to repeat themselves. We’re in control of our podcast. We can’t expect anyone else to know what’s going on, or to be in charge of the conversation. That’s on us.
The Long-Winded Guest
Some people are naturally long-winded. Others talk too much when they’re nervous in an interview. You can try to prevent this by asking more specific questions.
Instead of asking “Tell me about the places you've traveled” ask them “Tell me about the first trip you took with someone you were in a relationship with.”
If your questions are very specific and your guest is still long-winded, speak up. Interrupt them. You can always edit out the interruptions later.
If you don’t chime in during the interview, you’ll have two bad options to deal with later: 1) you’ll have a ton of editing to do to tighten up the conversation 2) you don’t edit enough and your audience suffers through an episode that is 30% too long. Yes, there’s a chance that your chatty guest is sharing nothing but gold, but those chances are slim.
The Guest Who Self-Promotes Too Much
Some guests can be overly self-promotional. They really want to promote their book or their website, but they don't come off naturally.
To avoid this, when you’re inviting the guest to be on your show, ask if there is something they want to talk about or pitch. Right before starting the interview, let them know that you’ll promote them in the intro and the outro, and that you’ll bring up what they want to talk about in the conversation. This can reassure them that they’re not going to have to find a place to jump in and mention their product/services/whatever.
Most of your guests will be great and understand that their message is what will motivate listeners to seek out more information on them. This has been my experience. If your guest gets overly aggressive in mentioning their website or product, cut some of those references during editing.
The Bad Guest
What happens when you interview someone and it just doesn’t work? The conversation is terrible and doesn't flow. Your guest hasn't prepared and answers, “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know that much about that” to your questions. Perhaps things just feel wrong? You can’t publish an episode you’re not proud of or that would waste your listeners’ time. So what do you do?
A lot of podcasters just ghost (they don't publish the episode and don't tell the guest). The best approach is to just not use the interview. That, of course, is not the mature way to handle things. Alternatives could be:
- creating a blog post instead;
- experimenting with a narrative episode by pulling the best soundbites from the guest and speaking around that;
- interviewing a few other people on the same subject and including sound bites from all of them. To cut down the work for you, you can focus on one particular question from the original interview, and then ask the other guests that same one question. You could also set up a way for those potential guests to call in their answers and leave it as a voicemail.
- writing to the guest and saying that, while you enjoyed the conversation, upon listening back to it, there wasn’t enough there to create a whole episode. This, admittedly, feels really awkward because they did give you their time. This is why the blog post, while more work for you, could be a nice alternative. Whatever you do, don’t lie and say the audio was bad or that you accidentally deleted it. What if they say, “Oh, I recorded on my end, as well. Here you go.” Just be honest.
The point of all of this is that you are the person in control. Take control and you will be sure to put out amazing content for your listeners.