There are a lot of different ways you can grow your audience and climb to the top of the charts, but one of the most effective ways will always be through featured interviews. When you interview interesting people in the same industry, your audience will appreciate the new perspective and it is a great way for them to learn something new.
Unlike ordinary podcast episodes where you mostly share your knowledge with your audience, doing an interview gives you a very unique method of sharing important topics without overwhelming your audience with too much information. Each guest you bring on has their own area of expertise, which only adds to the value that your listeners gain from subscribing to your podcast.
Doing a podcast interview will always be quite a daunting task, especially if you haven’t done one before. However, no matter how many times you’ve interviewed your guests the same principles still apply. That’s why preparation is a very important part of recording a successful interview.
So if you are just getting started in the podcast interview space, here are 8 best practices to keep in mind!
Have you ever heard the saying “fake it till you make it”? Well, this is sort of the same. The more confident you sound, the more likely people will believe that you’ve done this a thousand times. Be confident in yourself, be confident in the research you’ve done, and more importantly be so confident that you sound like a pro. This will not only improve the quality of the content but also put your interviewee at ease.
Of course, there’s nothing quite like preparation to build your confidence. Being fully prepared for the interview will help you find the confidence you do not currently have. Keep in mind, this might even be the first interview that your guest is doing. When you are more confident, this, in turn, makes them feel more confident in themselves. Encourage them to be themselves, give them time to find their grove, and let your confidence pull them forward.
Know the History
When it comes to interviewing guests, each one has a different specialty. Plus, if you are interviewing someone popular chances are that they’re been interviewed before at least a dozen times. This means that any regular questions you thought about asking them have already been asked and answered. So instead of just asking them the same questions, maybe do a little bit of research and replace all of the most asked questions with questions unique to your guest.
Also before you decide on an interviewee, just take a quick look at their interview history. This will give you a good indication of their interview style and whether or not your audience will resonate with them. Knowing a little about their interview history can also tell you which topics they most excel at and which topics come more naturally to them in conversation. Use your guest history to create a complete interview profile to help you pull off an exceptional interview!
Related read: Best Practices for Finding a Podcast Guest
Avoid Questions They Don’t Want To Answer
Everyone has parts of their life that they’d like to keep private from the world. These can often be topics or questions that aren’t a big deal to you, but to them, it might be very important to steer clear of. Sending the questions to your guests beforehand is a great way to ensure that there are no surprises for them and give them a chance to revise any questions that they are not comfortable with.
Sending out the questions beforehand also gives your guest time to properly prepare their answers so that when they get to the conversation it sounds a lot more natural. The ideas will already be ringing in their thoughts allowing their answers to simply flow. However, if you’re trying to ensure that the interview sounds authentic and not rehearsed then add in a few impromptu questions to keep it fresh. Remind your guests that they can stop the interview at any time and retake or cut out something they might not want to be included. It’s all about making them feel comfortable to get the most value from the interview.
Related read: Top 10 Mistakes that Podcasters Make
As we discussed before, being prepared is the key to success for most things in life and preparation is also key for podcast interviews. Preparation is not only important for your guest, but for you as the host as well. After you’ve chosen an interviewee and done your research, take the time to read the questions out loud and even to do a little role-playing just to make sure that you know exactly how you want to approach them.
Being prepared means also ensuring that the person you’re interviewing is ready for anything weird you might throw at them. For example, if you have a weird part of your podcast where your guest has to sing the first song that pops into their head, you might just want to give them a heads up. Or if you have a section of rapid-fire questions let them know so they can be prepared for the fun. Again, preparation is the best recipe for a successful podcast interview.
Never Stop Learning
If you’re reading this article it’s safe to say that you either have an interview podcast format or that you’re thinking about adding a new section to your show. It is also highly likely that the interview you’ll be doing will be about the topic you discuss during your podcast, which means you probably have a fairly broad knowledge base about it already. So where can you find an opportunity to learn?
The whole purpose of having a featured guest on your show is to bring your audience new knowledge and expertise that you aren’t able to provide them. So during your interview, although there may be some questions about topics you already understand, try to mix in questions that elaborate on subjects that you are not so familiar with. A great place to start is by surveying your audience and finding out what their burning questions are. Then, do a little research so that you will be comfortable guiding the conversation along. Again, the key is to keep learning and building that value!
Think About The Time
No matter how amazing the person you’re interviewing is, you’ve gotta remember how long you want the episode to be. If you’ve decided to keep all of your episodes around 30 to 40 minutes then you shouldn’t change that just for one episode. So during your research and preparations of the interview questions, think about the kind of questions you are going to ask and how long you want the answers to be.
Also, add in some extra cushion room in case the conversation takes an interesting turn and you don’t want to miss out on the juicy content. Think about the banter you will have in between questions and how much there will actually be to talk about. Plus, if you do find that the interview runs overtime, you can always split it up into two parts releasing them as two separate episodes. This is a great way to build up some extra episodes in your content bank!
Related read: Should My Podcast Episodes be Shorter or Longer?
Practice Active Listening
You might be the host of your podcast and people might tune in just to hear you speak for an entire hour, but when you have a guest on for an interview, it’s not all about you. Your audience has tuned in to hear the wisdom and knowledge your guest has to share with them, so help your guest shine. This doesn’t mean you should just sit there and ask a question now and then. It means you should actively engage in the conversation, guiding your guest towards those golden nugget answers without speaking more than them.
The key to accomplishing this is to practice active listening. Listen to what your guest has to say and process that information quickly. This will help you to stay engaged in the conversation and ask further questions to dig deeper into the answers. This will also help your audience to stay tuned in on the conversation. If you lose interest, so will they. So make it your mission to keep the interview alive through your active listening skills.
Related read: How to Stay Motivated to Keep Podcasting
Start Strong and End Strong
More often than not, people always start an interview off with a ton of energy and strong questions, but as the interview goes on the less exciting it becomes. There are several reasons this can happen, so to prepare for that inevitable energy drop, schedule in a break for you and your guest. After all, this is a podcast and you can definitely add in a break as needed.
Most listeners will always talk about the beginning, or the end of something they listened to, simply because those are the parts that leave a lasting impression. So make sure that you set yourself up to end the interview off with a bang. Whether this means saving the best questions for last, switching up the interview format, or getting that refreshed energy from a break, end your interview on a strong note!
Related read: The 10 Must Do’s for Successful Podcasting