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Conducting a good podcast interview is a great skill for an entrepreneur to have. Not only will you learn to do a great podcast interview by mastering this skill, but you can also apply it to videos and blog posts as well. Take the time to hone your craft.
Let's dive into why this is so important.
The Benefits of Interviews
Interviews are extremely beneficial. With a podcast interview you can generate unique and interesting content for your audience. When you conduct a podcast interview, you don't have to be the expert to deliver expert content.
Based upon your public association with the podcast interview subject, you increase your level of authority. This is a huge thing.
When you conduct a podcast interview, you build a relationship with the person you are interviewing and that can lead to further growth opportunities down the line for you and your business.
It is not easy to conduct an interview and it will require preparation. You want to do this preparation to ensure that your interviews are not wasting the time of your listeners.
Although most of the content is generated by the person you are interviewing, most of the responsibility to create an interview worth consuming still lies in your hands—and it’s not just about asking the right questions either.
It’s about genuine interest, flow, vibe, sincerity, concern, digging deeper, defining the unclear, attracting stories, avoiding awkwardness, and being conscious about all of that at the same time.
After conducting hundreds of interviews of my own on Yogi's Podcast Network, and being interviewed on many podcasts and YouTube channels, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to conduct a worth-listening-to interview, one that is captivating and full of content that your audience wants to hear.
How to Get Good Guests
The first step to getting great guests is to simply ask. Most people will say yes to you.
It is a smart idea not to approach the heavy
Referrals are another great avenue for finding good podcast interview guests. If you can’t reach someone directly, get to know a friend of theirs and ask for an intro. The more well known you are, the easier it is to convince people to join you for an interview. Networking works.
Most of the people I interview either I meet in person or at networking events. I’m introduced to through networking online, or I approach them after reading about them on another blog or website.
Serve Your Audience
Every podcast interview must serve your audience. While every interview may help you, your brand and your guest, the main people you want to impact are your audience. Your top priority should be to enlighten your audience.
Your audience should be receiving meaningful answers they can use. This will encourage them to continue consuming your content.
In order to service your audience, you need to know and understand your audience. You need to have a strong understanding of what your customers needs and wants are, where they come from and what language/style they use to describe their problems, when conducting a podcast. You need to consider all these things when interviewing. The better a job you do of this, the more popular your podcast will become.
One of the best tips I've heard for servicing your audience is to put yourselves in their place. While interviewing, think about whether the questions are being answered in enough detail for your entire audience to understand. If the steps aren’t explained, or no examples are given, I ask the person I am interviewing to break these things down. This works particularly well when I am personally curious because I want clarity too
To help you gain clarity, drop your presumptions and knowledge about the person you are interviewing and become your target audience. Then you will know what level of detail you need to dig out of the person you are interviewing.
Prepare Before Your Interview
When conducting a podcast interview, take the time to get to know who you are interviewing before you start.
Understand a Bit About Your Guest
It is true that you are conducting a podcast interview to learn more about a person and what they do, but as the interviewer, you must know a little bit more than your audience so that you can properly introduce the person and ask the right questions. Advanced preparation will help you with this. If you can find an existing interview with the person on another website, listening to that will be helpful so you can gauge their style and tone, and create questions for that person accordingly.
Doing this enables you to create a story. You help bring your guest's story to life.
Confirm Podcast Interview Details
This is especially important if you’re interviewing someone in a different timezone. Some things to confirm are:
- Date and time
- Method of Communication (Skype, Squadcast, etc.)
- The approximate length of the interview
Test Your Equipment
Nothing sucks more than recording an entire interview only to find out later that your recording equipment failed. This is why, prior to any podcast interview, you must test your recording equipment. Whatever method of communication you are using, do a test right before the interview.
Many people press record just before the first question of the interview, but I suggest hitting record as soon as you connect with your guest. You can see that things are working properly when you do it this way.
Prepare a List of Questions
You are going to want to prepare a list of questions that can be used as a template for your podcast interview. It should be a guide for the path you want to take, start to finish.
This list of questions should not be handled like a shopping list–where you hit each and every one.
For each question you should have two to three follow up questions you might want to ask based upon the answer given.
It is likely that you will not get to every question, but having them available to you will help remind you of what you wanted to ask. They will help you dig deeper into the topic at hand.
There are some simple rules for the questions.
- Do not ask Yes or No questions.
- Do not ask more than one question at a time.
- Keep your questions relevant, but creative.
- Phrase the questions in a manner that will allow your guest to expand.
- Offer to show the questions to your guest so they feel more comfortable.
Always end the podcast interview with a summary. This helps recap, sequence and clarify the points for the audience (and yourself – it makes you an active learner while doing the interview). It may trigger further explanation points for you to ask or your guest to bring up. It ends the story-telling loop, meaning you can move on to the next chapter in the story or move to conclude the interview
Create an Environment That is Welcoming
If you want to get the most out of your podcast interview, create a welcoming environment for your guest.
A comfortable person, someone who feels as though they are having a conversation with a friend, will be more likely to give beefier information that benefits you and your audience.
Tips for Creating a Welcoming Environment
- Explain to your guest that the interview is really just a conversation between two people.
- Explain all the details relating to the interview.
- Ask if they'd like to see the questions first.
- Thank them for the interview before you start.
- Have them listen to a pre-written or pre-rehearsed introduction before getting into the questions.
- Be enthusiastic.
Allow Your Guest to Talk
It may seem obvious, but you have to listen!
Make sure that you are engaged with the interview–don't just read the questions.
This part is much tougher than it sounds. As an interviewer, it’s extremely easy to “drift off” while the other person is talking. It is not that you become bored and uninterested, but you might “tune out” while you wait for them to finish so you can move on to your next question. Don’t do that.
What helps is to not think of your interview as really an interview at all, but a conversation that doesn’t follow a linear path. Sometimes, in tangential side stories, gold can be discovered.
Always listen actively and be engaged and present. Nobody likes tuning in to an interview where the guest doesn't say much while the host rambles on and on.
Exhibit an Interest in Understanding
You need to want to understand what your guest is talking about. This gets accomplished at different levels.
On a surface level, it is important to understand the situation or what's happening. What did this person do and why is it important to share?
On a deeper level, it becomes much more interesting, both for you as the interviewer and those who will eventually listen to it. At this deeper level, it becomes why does this person do what they do, and how.
Pro interviewers do a fantastic job of actually wanting to learn everything there is to learn about a person or a process—not just the what but also the how and why, and I genuinely feel like it’s because they want to fully understand everything.
Aim for High Quality Production
If the audio of your podcast interview is poor quality, it ruins the entire interview. Some people won't even listen if the sound quality isn't high.
You must do whatever you can (within your own budget) to provide high quality audio.
I use a Shure PGA48-XLR to record my shows. I also use Squadcast to conduct interviews.
Squadcast allows me to record interviews from a distance. It gives me a separate track for each participant. The audio quality is excellent. I've tried multiple tools and this one seems to be the most stable of all of them.
I use Levelator to ensure that both sides of the conversation are at the same volume level. Auphonic is another tool for this purpose. Each of these tools aims to provide optimum audio quality. They also save you an immense amount of time in post-production.
Ask How As Often As Possible
Always ask “how” whenever you don’t understand how something was done during the interview.
This one tip s all you really need to be a good interviewer. If you keep asking how, drilling things down, you will keep opening new doors to ask how about. This is the key to a great podcast interview.
Most people are vague or very generic when they say they did something. Some of my guests have initially been very brief when answering my questions. I might ask how they did something and they will respond with one or two sentences.
Me: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Guest: I realized I liked writing, so I started a blog
Answers like that do not make for a long interview and don’t really give your listener anything to benefit from. In this above example, I would ask them more about how they learned to write and what skills are most difficult to learn. I would then ask them how they started their business.
If you ever encounter a guest who doesn't give you in-depth answers, focus on one thing–get personal. All people, even shy people who don’t like being in the limelight still enjoy their own lives as a subject. Ask questions that flatter and show a direct interest in the subjects that person cares about the most. Ask them to talk about where they were born, what they enjoyed growing up, what they are good at, what books they read, or anything specific about them. A quick trip down memory lane is a great way to get a person interested in opening up to you.
Your job is complete when you get your guest to open up. You will be able to allow them to speak and at the same time, provide massive value to your audience.
Every answer opens doors for more questions, it’s just up to you to decide which doors are the best to open.
Things You Should Never Do
- Never ask a Yes or No question.
- Never ask more than one question at a time.
- Never say “…and my next question is…”
- Never allow an awkward pause
- Never be disrespectful to your guest or your audience
- Never forget to be present with your guest
- Never keep your mouth on your microphone (or breath into your microphone) while your guest is speaking
- Never rely too much on notes or research, as it distracts you from remaining present
- Never forget that you are serving your audience
Be Sure to Have Fun
A podcast interview needs to be fun.
If you have fun, it makes the interview so much better.
If you make it seem like a task or a chore, it will reflect in the interview itself.
Have fun, enjoy the experience, develop new relationships, and generate some amazing content!