Interviews are so much more than just inviting a guest onto your podcast and having a conversation. They’re an opportunity for you and your guest to go deep with topics your listeners love! But before you nail the interview, you need to make sure you’re properly prepared to interview your guest. Check out these tips to prepare for a successful podcast interview!
Find Interesting Guests
Booking a podcast guest who is a good fit for your show, has some notoriety in industry circles, and offers valuable insight is essential. When searching for great podcast guests, check out social media conversations, listen to other podcasts’ interviews, attend networking events, and more. As your podcast grows, don’t be afraid to ask your listeners for feedback on what kind of topics (and guests) they’re interested in!
Do Your Research
It’s important to take time to research your podcast guest and their work prior to recording your interview. Listen to other podcasts your guest has been on, take a peek at their social media profiles, read stuff they’ve written, and be sure to note any major accomplishments or awards they’ve won. As a host, it’s your job to know enough about your podcast guest beforehand so that you can get the conversation started.
Having questions ready before the interview is always a good idea. Try to come up with questions that offer a new point of view on a topic or that aren’t the same questions your guest answers on other podcasts or in other interviews. Your guest will be more likely to give engaged and authentic responses that way vs. a canned response they use for everything. Also, avoid asking questions that will get “Yes” or “No” responses that stifle conversation. Aim for questions with “Why” or “How” to help get into more details.
Send a Pre-Interview
Prior to recording, find out if your guest wants to do an in-depth pre-interview, see the list of questions ahead of time, or get a general idea of what you want to talk about. Ask your guest for feedback on the interview questions or if they have any topics they want to talk about (or even avoid). Learning what your guest cares about can help you formulate better questions around them so that you can help them shine during the episode. This preparation step can also help both of you feel more comfortable before recording!
Create a Guest Bio
Some guests may come with a bio about what they do, their background, and what their latest project is. While these are fine to use at the beginning of your podcast, they can be repetitive and your listeners may have already heard it, as they’re often used in many places. Instead, help your podcast stand out by preparing a bio for your guest. Do your research and gather information online, then create the bio with your audience in mind, pulling out pieces of information that are most relevant to your listeners.
Plan the Episode
Before you begin your interview, take time to decide the general direction you want your podcast episode to go. Generally, for interview podcast formats, you can ask questions in an order that will help explain where your guest started in their field, where they are now, and where they’re going. Interview podcasts also vary in length, so set a time beforehand and keep a timer going to help you stay on track. With a plan for your podcast episode, you’ll be more likely to address all of your interview questions.
Be a Storyteller
Some of the best podcast episodes are ones that tell stories. Ask your guest beforehand if there are any stories they have that relate to your podcast subject matter or even the interview topics you plan to discuss. Then, during your interview, weave those stories in between questions. This can allow you to capture your listeners’ attention and help them become fully engaged with the episode and your guest.
Don’t Be Afraid to Deviate
Something that you might experience during an interview is diverting from the planned conversation. Try not to become nervous or stressed when this happens—it’s okay if you don’t ask questions in perfect, sequential order. If your guest starts to talk about something you weren’t expecting, use your pre-interview research to ask new questions that align with where the conversation is leading. Just be sure to find a way to get back on the interview’s original path. The more interviews you have, the easier this will become.
Test the Equipment
Nothing is more disappointing than realizing the episode wasn’t recorded or realizing after the fact there were audio issues. If you have to restart the recording, your interview could be vastly different. You or your guest may feel like you have to rush for time’s sake, or the conversation may feel less genuine the second time around. To avoid technical issues like this, be sure to test your sound and other settings a few times before you begin recording the interview. If you’re a video podcaster, make sure your camera equipment is working and recording correctly as well.
Brief Your Guest
Whether you’re recording your podcast interview in person or remotely, you should brief your interview guest before you begin recording. Let them know what your podcast format is, how long episodes are, who your audience is, and where you’ll be promoting the episode online. This can help your guest answer questions with your listeners in mind, and it sets them up for a successful interview.
One thing you should try to avoid during your interview is interrupting your guest. This is frustrating for listeners and can come across as rude to the interviewee. In some cases, you may need to interrupt your guest to stay on track, but try not to make this the norm in your interview process. There may also be an instance where your guest mentions something you want to get into more detail about. When this happens, write down what they said and bring it up after they’ve finished speaking.
Try Active Listening
As you interview your podcast guest, try to stay in the moment and actually listen to your guest’s answers so you can provide genuine, thoughtful responses. In general, we spend 70-80% of our day communicating, and only 45% of that time is spent listening. It can be difficult to do at first—especially if you’re used to being the only one talking on your podcast—but listening to what your guest is talking about can help you keep the conversation going and provide a great recording experience for them.
Confidence is key when it comes to hosting a podcast and interviewing guests. Even if you’ve just started a podcast and this is your first interview, being confident will help your guest feel more comfortable. Doing your research and preparing your questions ahead of time can also help you feel more prepared and put both you and your interviewee at ease. Use your confidence to guide them through the conversation, and encourage your guest to be themselves and remind them that you’ll be discussing topics that they know well.
Close the Interview
Plan how you want to bring your podcast interview to a conclusion, including thanking your guest and plugging their social media accounts or latest projects. Something as simple as letting your guest know you’ve reached the last question is a great starting point for getting the episode wrapped up.
Be sure to follow up with your guest after the recording. You want to leave them with a positive impression of you and your show, so plan on sending them a thank-you email or letter the next day, showing your gratitude for their time and expertise. This gesture can go a long way—especially if you want to bring the guest back onto your podcast in the future!
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