What Every Podcaster Should Know About Interviews
Currently, there are over 500,000 podcasts online with some specially dedicated to interviews. For example ‘WTF’ with Marc Maron, ‘Full disclosure’ with James O’Brien, and ‘Without fail’ with Alex Blumberg. There are two main ways podcast interviews are conducted, remote interviews are done using recording apps such as Skype, Zoom, and Zencastr while microphones and digital recorders are used in face-to-face interviews.
Done right, podcast interviews sound easy, conversation flows effortlessly from one topic to another with both the guest and host enjoying themselves. Interviewing is a skill and it takes practice, as the interviewer, it’s your responsibility to create something interesting and worth your listeners’ time. It may take some time as a podcaster to get the full hang of interviews but you can listen to some podcasts about interviewing, listen to episodes of other interview podcasts and identify what you like and don’t like about their podcast format to help improve your skills and interview. Remember, podcast interviews are about digging and extracting stories from your guest to keep your audience engaged. Further, you can promote your podcast interview guest on your social media pages such as Instagram and Facebook to attract new listeners and engage your current ones!
Why should you do podcast interviewing?
Interviews now have become a big part of podcasting as they break up the potential monotony of one voice. They also add the expertise of others to your podcast theme. Further, it’s a chance for you as a podcaster to tap into your interviewee’s own following which may drive new traffic to your podcast website increasing your followers as more listeners subscribe.
How do you find and/or select your guest?
You can find your guests through your own personal connections, get in touch with guests through family, friends, local groups, or through other podcasters. Another method is to sign up with a guest matching service such as ‘Matchmaker.fm’. To join Matchmaker.fm all you have to do is create a podcast profile and fill in a few details about your show, then you can get matched with your ideal guest!
When you select your podcast guests make sure you choose guests that are relevant to your podcast’s topic. For example, as a coffee podcaster, you can invite a coffee blogger or a coffee enthusiast as a guest. Don’t choose a guest just because their famous, it’s better to invite guests that do things uniquely and/or have overcome unexpected challenges. It’s always better to choose guests who are interesting to listen to and have some natural charisma to really keep your audience engaged in the conversation. However, when you select, mainly make sure you are interested in what your guest has to say.
How can you, as the interviewer prepare for the interview?
Do some background research.
Once you select your guests, do some background research about them. The podcast interview shouldn’t be your first exposure to your guest and their subject, you should know at least a little about them and their field of interest before you host the interview.
So, how can do you do some background research?
Go online, Google around and check what they’ve said online and at popular events. Check whether he/she has written any articles, blogs, or books. If they have, scroll through read some of it. Then, check their social media pages such as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can even watch some videos they’ve created and listen to episodes from other podcasts they’ve been on. If you come across any recent interviews your guest has done, listen to them, and note the questions they’ve been asked to make sure you won’t just ask the same question again.
Determine where their subject meets your audience.
It’s important to determine what your interviewee knows that appeals to your listeners. There’s no sense in going over things your audience doesn’t care about!
When you do your background research take note of everything you find that may interest your podcast listeners and create some questions based around them. Don’t be afraid to ignore something important and/or unique about your guest if you think it will not matter to your audience.
Prepare your questions in advance.
It’s important to have a core list of all the questions you want to ask your guest. But, remain flexible when you conduct the interview and always ensure you keep the conversation moving forward. During the interview, you can add some additional questions or eliminate some if you feel the conversion is becoming artificial or rehearsed.
Here are some tips to help prepare some quality questions to ask:
- Avoid asking basic questions like, “What are you best known for?”
- Avoid asking that have been asked in recent interviews with your guest
- Don’t ask ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions as your guest will not be able to elaborate causing the conversion to become a bit awkward!
- Ask one question at a time, don’t join two questions together as it can become confusing especially if your guest has a lot to say.
- Focus on ‘How’ and ‘Why’ questions as guests will find it easy and be able to elaborate on their answers.
- Also, make sure you won’t ask the juiciest question you have at the beginning. You want your audience to listen until the end of the podcast episode.
Send the questions to your guest prior to the interview.
This will allow your guest to prepare, and come up with smart and interesting responses to your questions. Further, ask them if they have any in testing stories or anecdotes related to your questions they would like to share with the audience.
Brief your guest about the show.
Have a little chat or send a brief email to your guest explaining your podcast, its general format, and target audience. This will help her/him to tailor their answers and anecdotes to your audience.
Have a pre-interview process
If your recording in-person, you can seat your guest down, offer them a drink, and initially have a chat with them to make them feel at ease and comfortable before recording, allowing them to answer your questions better during the interview. This is especially important if your guest hasn’t done many interviews before.
During the interview…
- Try not to interrupt your interviewee when he/she is taking unless it’s necessary.
- Don’t be afraid to reel your guest back if they go off-topic.
- Actively listen to your guest or you’ll sound disconnected in your responses and further questions you ask.
Once you’re done with the interview listen back to it, catch your mistakes, and correct them next time you interview another guest!