When I first thought of starting my own podcast, I thought the host just compiled a bunch of questions and the guests did most of the work.
Boy was I wrong.
By this point, I’ve conducted dozens of interviews. And each one requires preparation and thoughtful discussion. There’s far more to conducting a podcast interview than writing a bunch of questions and reading them off the screen.
Even so, it’s not that difficult to become a ‘natural’ at podcasting. It just takes practice and preparation. And the more prepared you are, the easier and more fun the interviews will be.
The following tips will help you conduct great interviews with your podcast guests and improve the quality of your show:
Preparation will make or break your podcast. It’s easy for listeners to tell if something was well-planned or completely spontaneous. To prepare a podcast episode, start with the introductory script.
In other words, how you will introduce your podcast’s episode and guests.
Ever notice how the hosts of great podcasts can always introduce their guests without stumbling on a word? Probably not; you simply expect it. But good introductions don’t happen without preparation.
It’s easy to take this for granted until you become a host yourself and discover a whole new world. Here’s the script I use for my intros:
“Hello and welcome. I am your host, Marc Guberti, and this is the podcast for marketers and small business owners who are looking for the breakthrough for their businesses. I am very excited about this show. We are going to discuss [Topic] with our guest [Name of guest]. [A few facts about the guest]. It is my pleasure to welcome [name of guest] to the show.”
The next time you listen to one of my podcast episodes, look at my rubric as you hear me deliver the intro. While each introduction may be slightly different, I use this rubric for nearly all of them.
The second part of preparation is writing down your questions. Question writing becomes easier with practice because you can use the good ones more than once. For instance, I always ask my guests for an inspirational quote.
That’s one question down. But how many are left to go?
I usually jot down 10-15 questions, but I recommend always writing more than you need. Some guests like to elaborate while others will give short answers to almost every question.
During the episode, ask the important questions first, but leave room for bonus questions in case you want or need to make the episode longer (of course, if this means sacrificing value, then don’t bother sacrificing value for episode length).
Preparation will also make you better at attracting guests to your podcast.
#2: Conducting The Interview
The interview consists of more than just reading the intro and questions one by one. While you technically could conduct an interview in this manner, it’s no fun for anyone—you, your guest, or your listeners.
A podcast interview is a conversation, not a job interview. In a job interview, questions get fired out, and responses get fired back, with a bit more on-the-fly tactical planning. The interviewer is doing everything he/she can to assess whether a person is a good fit for a particular job.
A podcast interview, however, is more casual and you may even develop a bond with your guests. You already know your guests are extraordinary in their own ways, or you wouldn’t have invited them.
When you ask a question, listen carefully to what the other person says, and acknowledge it, before adding your own points and/or proceeding to the next question. Remember that your listeners are interested in what your guests have to say, so try to keep yourself out of the spotlight as much as possible.
The key element of a podcast interview is conversation. Like most conversations, it’s difficult to jot down notes, but unlike most conversations, this one is being (legally) recorded.
You can focus on the conversation itself, then go back to listen to the entire episode later, or you can hire someone to take notes for you. Trying to take notes while leading a podcast and guests is overwhelming.
That’s why I prefer to listening to the recordings or asking someone else to do it for me. This lets me stay focused on truly listening to my guests and coming up with a nice transition into the next question. Transitions are important because they help conversations appear more natural.
Imagine someone asking you questions all day. As soon as you’ve answered one, they ask you another, and so it goes. That’s not a conversation. That’s more like a job interview.
During your interview, spend some time listening and some time thinking about how you will transition into your next question (but not at the expense of missing out on interesting follow-up questions). If you listen only, it will be awkward moving from question to question.
The moment I hear a guest make a excellent point that I can use as a transition, I hold it in my mind. If I forget it, it’s much harder to make the transition. Making mental notes of important points helps guests feel more comfortable and the interview going smoothly.
#3: Follow-Up After The Interview
Your podcast episode doesn’t end when you’ve thanked your guests for showing up and sharing their knowledge. Sure, that can happen, but there’s usually follow-up conversation that takes place after the interview (that doesn’t make it into the episode).
Those conversations help you develop stronger relationships with your guests. At the end of some of these conversations, I often find myself talking about potential partnerships or collaborations.
Why end the conversation along with your episode when there’s so much more to talk about?
Some people use it as an opportunity to encourage guests to share the episode. They strategize on how to sprinkle the conversation with a call to action. My advice is to keep that in the background.
I always tell my guests that I’ll send them a link when the episode is live, but I don’t push them to share it on their social networks. Every guest and episode provides me with a massive amount of knowledge, and that alone is enough. Of course, shares are an added bonus!
Conducting successful podcast interviews becomes easier with practice. But having the right approach will give you a big advantage when it comes time for your next interview.
Interviewing people is fun and it fills you with new knowledge. There were several instances in which I thought I knew exactly what tip a certain guest would provide only to be thrown a curveball full of new and novel insight.
One of Jim Rohn’s many powerful quotes reads like this: “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.”
This quote resonates with me since I’m both a college student and entrepreneur. Reading it motivates me to continue as an entrepreneur, even when the going gets tough.
Conducting great podcast interviews is the easiest way to produce new content for your brand and learn new things at the same time.
I truly believe that everyone should have a podcast even though it can take time to gain traction. The important thing is that you’ll continue to grow, and improve your show, with each new guest you invite and interview.
What are your thoughts on conducting podcast interviews? Do you have a podcast? Sound off in the comments section below.
image credit: Pixabay.com