Even if your show isn't an interview-only show you can benefit from having guests appear on your show ever few episodes:
- Someone's voice other than your own can breath new life into your show
- A guest can expose your show to their audience with potential of growing your audience
- Guests provide your show with social proof
For these reasons it is important to become a decent, if not excellent, interviewer.
Here are the three most important interviewing tips for podcasters
Prepare a list of questions
Even if you are great at having a conversation without an outline it would be helpful to have a list of questions in front of you so:
- You can immediately jump to the next question if the conversation goes stale
- You will be more confident before and during your recording
- The person you are interviewing is prepared
I prepare a list of 5-10 questions and send them to my guest. He/she may never even look at them but I am confident that the show will progress better because I am more prepared.
Make sure everything is broadcast-ready
There is nothing worse than a podcast host that isn't ready to record the second you sign on to Skype. That doesn't mean you have to jump right into the introduction and first question – but I am suggesting that you have everything hooked up, powered on, and ready to roll.
Here are a few things I do 15 minutes before connecting with my podcast guest:
- Close any unnecessary computer programs (notifications, scans, updates, etc)
- Record a short piece of audio and play it back to make sure all wires are securely connected
- PRESS RECORD just before your guest is scheduled to connect
I also do a sound-check once they sign on. I may ask them to do a quick “count down from three to zero” to check the levels, but that's about it.
For more about preparing to record: Read “PRE-RECORDING CHECKLIST FOR PODCASTERS”
Listen more than you speak
A 50/50 conversation is fine, but allowing your guest to speak for 1-2 minutes without interruption allows them to dig deeper into the subject.
Below is a screenshot of a recent interview I recorded: The top row is my guest and the bottom row is me. Notice there is a lot more going on in the top row? That's because I'm allowing the expert (my guest) to be the expert.
It would be counter-productive for me to have someone schedule an appointment, set up their gear, dial in for an interview and then command the conversation. They are the expert so I should let them talk.
Some other tips to ensure your interview goes off without a hitch:
- Send an email reminder to your guest three days early and the day before recording (and note the time zone!)
- Have a back-up plan in case the internet goes wonky
- Make everyone in the house aware that you will be recording (reduces noise and interruptions)
I hope these tips are helpful. I'm still trying to perfect them!