If you're a podcast fan, you've probably heard at least a few bad interviews. Winding tangents. Clumsy sequences. Boring questions. A host who won't stop talking about himself. You got it.
Well done, podcast interviews seem easy. The conversation moves effortlessly from topic to topic and the host and guest seem to be having fun. But it doesn't happen by magic. Interviewing is a skill. And it takes practice.
1. Find the guests you're really interested in
Even David Letterman can't do much with a guest who is stiffer than a plank of wood. You can't magically make someone interesting by the power of questioning alone. Your guests must have a certain charisma to begin with. And not everyone has it. The reality is that some guests are much better than others.
So, half the art of recording better podcast interviews comes down to selecting convincing guests. And the number one rule to follow is whether you're really interested in what that person has to say.
2. Research your guest
You must be careful when researching your guests. If you do too much, you will feel that your conversations are rigid. But if you don't do enough, you may be rude and disrespectful. You need to find the right place, somewhere in the middle. Here are some basics you should check out before you sit down to record :
Read their "About" page
But don't get bogged down in your career history or lists of accomplishments. The rewards and accomplishments are great, but that's not what makes a good interview. On the contrary, when you read their "About" page, try to get a sense of them as a person.
Try to detect any aspects of their personality that are reflected in the text. And keep an eye out for anything interesting or unusual about them. This is often the seed of a great story.
3. Prepare Your Equipment
A phone stand for recording podcasts will help you have a stable and steady podcast.
4. Prepare and ask probing questions.
As you do your research, think of questions you might ask. Try to find creative angles. Because if you ask the same questions as everyone else, you'll probably get the same answer over and over again. Skye Pillsbury, host of Inside Podcasting, recommends the following approach:
"I try to take the questions they've been asked before and push them further. For example, "I heard you say X, but I didn't really understand Y. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
5. Organize a pre-interview procedure
If you're registering in person, set up your guest, offer them a drink and talk with them first. Putting guests at ease is one of the keys to recording better interviews. This is especially important if your guest has never done many podcasts before. It can be very nerve-wracking!
Even if you're recording remotely, there are some key information you need to communicate to your guests from the start. Give them a brief presentation of your show and remind them who your target audience is. Having this in mind will help them tailor their responses more accurately to your audience.
6. Keep the conversation moving
30 minutes can seem like a lot of time. But if you have a lot of ground to cover, it's not really the case. So don't waste a lot of time reviewing your guests' backgrounds and covering background information on the topic of the episode. This is what the introduction to your episode is for.
7. Don't interrupt
Avoid interrupting your guest while he or she is speaking. This can seem rude and is usually very irritating to the listeners. Of course, it may sometimes be necessary to interrupt your guest to restart the conversation. But these cases are the exception rather than the rule. Your job is to ask your guest the right questions and let him or her take over.
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