As a podcaster, you probably already know the benefits of having guests on your show. You get unique content and perspectives to share with your audience and great interviews add more value to your show! Knowing how crucial interviews are, it’s easy to stress about conducting podcast interviews if you don’t feel prepared, but don’t worry, there are things you can do to prepare to have a better overall interview experience and a better episode!
Here are the top tips for conducting podcast interviews:
Take your own podcast seriously. If you aren’t preparing for guests or treating your show with respect, why should anyone else? You want to give your guest the sense that they are doing something important by being there and if you are prepared and ready, they’ll want to be too.
Research Your Guest
Even if it’s someone whose work you are familiar with, check their about page to see how you can relate their work to your show and your audience.
You should be the one introducing them with a short bio as it pertains to your audience. This cuts out unnecessary chatter time in the interview so you can dive right into the good stuff. Avoid the simple, “So what do you do?” question by telling your audience upfront who your guest is, why they’re there, and then begin asking your questions.
Along the same lines, if your guest has been a part of other interviews recently, listen in and find out if there are common questions they are asked and see if you can avoid asking them yourself.
Ask How or Why Questions
These questions can help dive into the reasons behind guests’ answers. This can take answers from “I’m selling cookies,” to, “I’m selling cookies that I made from my grandma’s old recipe in her memory to help raise money for a cause she cared about.” How and why questions provide us with the juicy details. Avoid just asking YES or NO questions so you can get the details.
Be a Good Listener
Be sure to only ask one question at a time and be flexible once your guest answers. This makes being a good listener even more important. Be flexible in your process to allow for additional conversation if your guest brings up something you didn’t expect. That’s the whole point of an interview after all!
Again, listen and avoid thinking about your next question. Also, if possible, try to avoid saying things like, “my next question is…” This can create a sense of stiffness in an interview and take listeners out of the conversation of it all.
This isn’t limited to outright talking over your guest; it may be tempting to give vocal agreements (i.e. “yeah,” “oh,” “I see”) but this can throw your guest off their flow and additionally, make the editing process more difficult if you vocalized over something the guest was saying. This might take some getting used to, but it is a crucial part of conducting a great interview.
Send Questions Early
Before you even press record, there are additional steps you can take to ensure the interview will go smoothly. Once you’ve done your research and organized some questions for your guest, send them early. This gives your guest a chance to look over the content so they can provide more thoughtful answers.
Create a Pre-Interview Process
It’s important your guest doesn’t feel blindsided by questions or even the format of your show so create a pre-interview process where you can take your guest through what the show is like, how it usually flows, and give them an opportunity to ask questions in advance. This pre-interview doesn’t need to last more than a few minutes of your and your guest’s valuable time but it can hopefully set the tone for the interview and put your guest at ease.
It can feel overwhelming trying to strike that balance between being over-prepared and underprepared but the more often you’re working on these skills and taking interviews seriously, the more natural these skills will become!
Listen to your favorite interviewer and get a sense of how they typically handle conducting podcast interviews. Chances are, their interviews involve the core concept of listening to their guest and understanding what makes their guest relevant to their audience.
Remember to listen and relax. You’ve got this.
Once you nail down your interviews, you might want to consider doing a podcast guest swap! If you want to learn how to grow your audience with a podcast guest swap, read our blog!