Whether you're new to the podcasting world or a seasoned podcaster, interviewing guests can seem like a daunting task at first. Conducting a good interview requires a mix of preparation, strong listening skills, and the ability to improvise.
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In this comprehensive guide to interviewing, we'll cover basic interviewing skills, pre-interview preparation, how to come up with interesting questions, and how to find and reach out to guests. Let's dive in.
Basic Interviewing Skills:
Active Listening: A successful podcast interview is grounded in active listening. This means not just hearing what your guest is saying, but understanding it, and responding thoughtfully. Your focus should be on the guest, their stories, and their expertise. Avoid interrupting.
Open-ended Questions: These questions require more than a yes or no answer and help the conversation flow naturally. They also provide your guest with the opportunity to give detailed responses, share stories, and express their opinions.
Follow-up Questions: While you should have a list of prepared questions, don't be afraid to deviate based on the guest's responses. This allows you to dig deeper into interesting points or clarify certain topics.
Research Your Guest: It's essential to understand your guest's background, interests, and work before you conduct the interview. Look at their website, social media profiles, books, articles, or any other resources that can provide insight into their areas of expertise.
Prep a Question List: Based on your research, prepare a list of open-ended questions that you would like to cover. These should serve as a guideline and not a script, be prepared to follow the natural flow of conversation.
Pre-Interview Communication: Discuss with your guest about the format, the type of questions you'll ask, and any specific topics they want to discuss or avoid. This will help your guest feel comfortable and prepared.
Coming Up With Meaningful Questions:
Relevance and Depth: Your questions should be relevant to the guest's area of expertise and to your audience's interests. Also try to ask questions that encourage your guest to think deeply and provide thoughtful answers. For example, instead of "Tell me about yourself", you could ask, "How has being a small business owner impacted your life and influenced your relationship with your local community?"
Personal Touch: Personal anecdotes or experiences often make for engaging content. Questions like, "Can you share a challenging experience and how you overcame it?" can draw out compelling stories.
Finding and Reaching Out to Guests:
Who to Invite: Look for guests who are relevant to your podcast's theme and who will provide value to your audience. They might be experts in a certain field, have unique experiences, or hold interesting perspectives.
Making Contact: Reach out to potential guests via email or social media. Be professional and clear about who you are, what your podcast is about, why you are interested in interviewing them, and what value you think the interview will bring to your audience. If you have a mutual connection, that's great - ask for an introduction! But don't be afraid to send out a cold email and see what kind of response you get. Keep the message short and simple and be respectful of their time.
Follow-up: If you don’t hear back within a week or so, send a polite follow-up. People are often busy and your initial message may have been overlooked.
Technical Check: Ensure your equipment is working properly before the interview. This includes your microphone, headphones, and recording software.
Practice: Especially if you're new to interviewing, practice can help. You can rehearse with a friend or record a mock interview.
Stay Flexible: An interview might not always go as planned. Be ready to adapt and steer the conversation in a way that's enjoyable for your guest and valuable for your audience.
After the Interview: Don't forget to thank your guest for their time and share content with them once the podcast episode or audio tour is live. They might be willing to share the content with their own audiences, which could help increase your reach. Maintaining good relationships over time can also lead to referrals to other potential guests.
Interviewing is an art form and it may take a few tries to find your groove. Keep experimenting, learning, and refining your process. The goal is to provide valuable content to your listeners while making your guests feel heard and appreciated.
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