Are you doing an interview podcast? Could you use some interviewing tips?
You’re in luck… ’cause I’m about to give you some (and point you to some great resources to help you even more).
Interviewing seems like a pretty simple thing.
You ask a question. Your guest answers.
But there’s a lot more to good interviewing than that… and it’s not so much about what you KNOW as about what you DO.
I’ve carried on over 100 interviews on my previous podcast and have done other interviews live in various settings.
You’ve got to be able to “think on your feet” and keep the conversation flowing in a positive direction.
And in the back of your mind as you interview every guest, you have to be thinking, “Does this interview benefit my listeners?”
My interviewing tips
I’d love for my experience to be of benefit to you, so if you want to know how to interview – here are my top 10 interviewing tips!
Get organized before you contact your guest
Most people you’re going to have on your podcast are professionals.
They’ve got a busy life and shouldn’t have to suffer through your lack of organization.
So make sure you get your ducks in a row before you reach out to them.
Your guest will greatly appreciate a handful of things from you before you start.
Here’s my short-list:
- Clarity on what you want to talk with them about
- An accurate estimation of time requirements for the interview (be sure to include time before and after to leave room for technical issues)
- A list of possible questions (you don’t have to go exactly by questions you send, but as a courtesy this is helpful to your guests)
- Clarity regarding time-zone issues. To avoid these problems altogether use a scheduling app like http://meetme.so
- Technical requirements for a good interview (use headphones, use an external mic, hard-wired connections VS wireless, etc.)
You’re welcome to tweak my “For my guests” email I send to every interview guest.
What do you need to add to it?
Set a goal for your interview
Too many interviews are rambling romps through memory and anecdotes.
That can be fun but if you want your guest interviews to be tremendously helpful to your audience, I’d suggest you map out the end result you have in mind.
Why are you interviewing this particular person?
What do they have that your audience needs?
What would be the ideal, best-in-the-world end result to come of your interview?
Answer those questions and you’re well on your way to making them happen.
That leads us to the next step:
Think through your questions ahead of time
The questions you develop should put you on a path toward your goal.
They are the way you chart the course to the end result you want.
Bad interviews come from unprepared hosts.
Don’t be one of those.
- What does this person bring that is of particular importance or interest to your audience?
- How can you draw that out? What kind of questions would help you do that?
- Is there something you want to know from this person that nobody has ever thought to ask?
- If you could only ask this person one question, what would it be? (That will give you an idea of what’s most important to talk about)
- Is it really all that important to do the “tell us your story” bit at the beginning? Maybe not.
- Is there a way you could approach the interview that would be different from how your guest is typically interviewed?
And on and on… you get the idea.
You want to have an idea where you’re going before you start. Nobody gets to their destination without knowing how to get there.
Know about your guest
One of the most painful things I’ve ever listened to is a newbie podcaster stumbling through random questions that are obviously ignorant of who their guest is.
What goes into good podcast interview preparation?
Know about your guest.
They have a website, don’t they? At the very least browse their website.
Read the “About” page.
Look at their books and resources on Amazon, etc. Read one of them if you have time (especially if you’re interviewing them ABOUT the book).
If they do a podcast or videocast, listen to it or watch at least one episode.
You’ll be doing your listeners a favor because knowing about your guess will enable you to know what questions you can ask that will be relevant to your audience.
You’ll be doing the guest a favor because they’ll feel your respect for them through your knowledge of them.
I can’t stress this one enough – know about your guest!
Even if you’re interviewing the President of the United States, you’ve got to settle down those nerves.
You need your wits about you.
You need to be your best.
You need to be able to respond to answers you didn’t expect.
Every bit of that is harder to accomplish mid-interview if you’re nervous or scared.
So breathe deep. Let it go.
Remind yourself that your guest goes poop in the potty just like you.
There is no reason that you need to be nervous.
Additional “How to interview” resources that should help
7 Steps to a great podcast interview – by Yaro Starak
The Secret to Great Podcast Interviews – by Social Media Explorer
22 Interviews to Improve Your Podcast Interviews – by the Podcast Answer Man Himself, Cliff Ravenscraft
Better Podcast Interviews through 6 Simple Steps of Preparation – from the folks at Copyblogger