There may be no faster way to create a great product than by interviewing an expert in your niche. You set a time for the interview, prepare a few questions, record it, and possibly get it transcribed. Total time? Maybe 2 hours, tops.
But exactly what is it that you, as the interviewer, need to do to make the interview great?
To put it another way, how do you ensure that your listeners are going to stay riveted by the interview and be thrilled that they took the time to listen to it?
Here’s 17 indispensable tips for conducting a memorable podcast interview:
1. Have fun with it. If you’re all stressed out about doing this interview, odds are it’s not going to turn out well. You’ve got to relax and have a good time. Laugh. Joke a little. Smile. Did you know people can HEAR if you’re smiling? It’s true. And the more at ease you are, the more comfortable your guest will be, too.
2. Do some research. Know the person you’re interviewing, and by all means know something about the topic.
3. Confirm the details with the person you’re interviewing. This includes time and date, length of the interview and how they will be communicating (phone, skype, etc.)
4. Forget the umms, errs and ahhs. Please. If it takes you a second to think of the word you’re looking for, so be it. Don’t fill that time with incoherent sounds.
5. Do use the highest quality equipment possible. You can have the greatest interview ever, but if the sound quality is terrible then no one is going to listen.
6. Don’t ask yes or no questions. “Do you like to play tennis?” “Yes.” Have you been playing for long? “Yes.” Do you win every tournament?” “No.” How dull can you get? Always ask open ended questions that cannot be answered with simple yes’s and no’s.
7. Listen. I mean really LISTEN to the answers your expert is giving you. Your audience can tell if you’re just playing along rather than being fully engaged. So engage. Be prepared to ask spontaneous questions based on what you’re hearing. The best interviewers aren’t afraid to pursue new avenues and unearth new discoveries.
8. Don’t just ask “what,” also ask “why” and “how.” Learn everything you can from the person you’re interviewing. Go in depth and find out the reasons behind the reasons.
9. Remember that you are the interviewer. Don’t try to steal the show and don’t talk over your guest. You are there to elicit information, they are there to share their expertise. Don’t try to fill both roles yourself. If you do, you’ll annoy your guest and irritate your audience.
10. Don’t ask more than one question at a time. “How do you propose to do project A, and while you’re doing it do you also run the xyz program, and how do the two integrate into your discombobulator?” Sheesh. Think of your poor interview subject and just ask one question at a time.
11. Don’t say anything like, “I wanted to ask you…” or “My next question is…” Or even, “How are you?” Get to the topic at hand and keep the interview moving. Please.
12. Prepare your questions ahead of time. This will ensure you don’t get stuck for something to ask. Prepare follow up questions for each question. Or if the purpose of the interview is to teach a task, you and your guest might prepare an outline of the steps you’ll cover. In either case, this is a guide to help you along, not something written in stone. Be flexible.
13. Don’t keep your guest in the dark. Let them know beforehand what to expect and any pertinent details they should know. Offer to send them the questions you plan on asking. Thank them for participating. You should thank them when they agree to the interview and again in any conversations or correspondence you have both prior to the interview and after the interview.
14. Show your enthusiasm for both your topic and your expert guest. Enthusiasm is contagious, so share yours liberally. Your guest will appreciate your enthusiasm, and your audience will be more engaged.
15. Remember who your real VIP is – it’s not your guest and it’s not you, it’s your audience. You are doing this interview for them, so your first priority is to get your audience great content they want or need.
16. Relax. It’s not Mars-landing science, it’s just an interview. Don’t get stressed – think of it as an adventure.
17. Make mistakes. Look, you’re going to make them regardless, so why not put it on this list? You’re going to trip over your tongue, forget what you were about to say, or mispronounce a word you use all the time. It’s okay. Fix your mistake, smile, laugh, and move on. Your audience will love you MORE for the mistakes you make.