To be a better podcast interviewer for your guest and listeners…
Respect Your Guest’s Knowledge And Time
So, let’s hit some basics first, to set the groundwork for being a great podcast interviewer.
There are basically two reasons to have guests on your podcast
- for you – to network, to meet new people
- for your listeners – with three objectives for your listeners – you need to educate, or entertain, or energize – or all three
Don’t Forget You Are Hosting A Show
To capture the attention of your audience and keep them engaged, present your podcast with energy. Insert some power, emphasis and excitement into your voice.
Get the right balance, and they’ll hear a confident podcast host who is in control. All the while you are calm, relaxed and conversational.
And that takes practice.
Practice Makes Better and Better – There’s Never Perfect
Practice will help you and the balance between sounding natural and performing while you’re hosting a show.
Nobody likes the sound of their own voice. But as a host, listening back – or as broadcasters call it, listening to a sound check of your work – will help you improve much faster.
And this also means getting feedback from non-family members. Those that will give you TRUE feedback as a non-partisan listener. You only get better with honest feedback. Honesty will get you there quicker.
As a podcast show host, how do you become a great interviewer?
I recently interviewed Mark Nuce on my Note To Future Me podcast. He’s a radio broadcast veteran of 30+ years. He is the news and public affairs director at North American Broadcasting, Incorporated in Columbus Ohio. What a better resource could there be than a veteran newscaster and news interviewer to speak about being a better podcast interviewer.
The four key areas that we talked about to master podcast interviewing include: 1) homework and research 2) planning 3) flexibility 4) listening
Those 4 areas are key to becoming a great podcast interviewer.
Respect Your Guest’s Knowledge And Time
Respecting the Guest’s Knowledge
Research, research, research.
“Know” about your targeted guest BEFORE making contact. We have never had so much information at our fingertips to access anyone’s information as we do today.
Check out their website.
- There you may find links to personal and company blogs
- Your guest might have a blog on their personal website, write on their business’s blog, or contribute to other blogs as well.
Check out all of their social media channels.
- Twitter’s advanced search makes it easy to filter by the number of likes as well as the number of retweets and any keyword or phrase.
- LinkedIn profiles. If the professional background of your guest is of interest, their LinkedIn profile will come in handy. You can also dig into their “Activity” to find what they’ve been posting about.
- Find out who they may be connected to via social media. There may be someone you know, you may have in common.
If they have a podcast, or have been on podcasts as a guest, listen to a few episodes – especially ones you have an interest in.
Here are a couple of easy ways to search podcasts.
- Listen Notes describes itself as a search engine for podcasts. This makes it easy to dig up past guest appearances your potential guest has made on other podcasts.
- PodChaser also allows you to search for someone and pull up a curated list of their guest appearances.
- If your potential guest is active on Quora, searching through their past answers can give you some good ideas for questions to ask since you can see how they would respond.
All of this information will be used to curate “the ask” email (and more).
When you can relate to your potential guest that you know who they are with specific examples, and why they would be a good guest for your podcast listeners, you increase the likelihood of the interview.
Respecting The Guest’s Time
Be respectful of how you schedule a recording time with your guest. In addition to the Knowledge items I just mentioned, recognize that your guest’s timetable is NOT your timetable.
A highly sought after guest is probably very protective of their time. They may allow only one or two interviews per week (maybe per month), on a specific day, at a specific time.
Here are two likely ways you are going to get your potential guest on the calendar to interview.
1 – Once you’ve made contact with the potential guest, you can offer a link to your calendar so they have the option to pick a day and time. To do this, look into a calendar integration app with a quick link back to your base calendar, like Calendly, Savvycal or TidyCal.
If you aren’t familiar, apps like this control your availability preferences. You share your link via an email or embed it on your website. They pick a time and the event is added to your calendar.
With a scheduling tool like these, you can generate personalized scheduling links for each and every guest with just a few clicks. You can prefill your guest’s name, so that all it takes is just a couple of clicks to book a time with you.
2 – What is probably going to happen, the potential guest will send you their calendar link to pick an available date and time on THEIR calendar. Respect The Guest’s Time – don’t push for a time that’s convenient for you. Pick a date and time based on THEIR availability.
After a date and time has been established, here’s the opportunity for more professional communication.
Provide a Guest Page with essential details, such as contact and recording information. And following the posting of the episode, it will provide podcast assets. The Guest Page eliminates email confusion, or missed emails.
The Guest Page should include:
- The link you will be using to record the interview. Or if you are recording in a studio with them, information about the studio.
- The outline of best practices to ensure the interview will sound the best it can.
- If your interview is over Zoom or another virtual meeting app, this outline would include suggestions for mic options, internet connection (wifi vs ethernet), if the interview will be recorded on video as well, and your contact information if anything goes wrong during the interview.
- If you are inviting your guest to be with you in-studio to be interviewed, this outline would include the address of the recording studio, parking availability, will there be pictures taken, and what to expect when you enter the building.
- Episode show notes, link to transcript, links provided by your hosting platform, or better, your website, and several pull quotes that the guest can use to promote the episode to share in email newsletter and social media.
This next opportunity for communication varies from podcaster to podcaster.
Some will say don’t do this, some will say do. I go with the “do.” Send the guest an itemized agenda of what the episode will be about.
Think about it – even when you interview for a job you know what the questions will be, for the most part. Why NOT offer up a soft agenda for the interview. Again, Respect The Guest’s Time.
Bonus tips for Respect The Guest’s Knowledge
Engage With Open-Ended Questioning
Ask open-ended questions. This can be harder than you realize, and take some discipline as an interviewer.
Open-ended questions require a response with more depth. They also are helpful in learning about a person or a situation. Here are some example questions…
- What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about…?
- What’s your key piece of advice on …?
- What keeps you interested in…?
Listening sounds obvious, but it’s a common mistake.
Sometimes, we get so focused on asking questions from our prepared list that we miss important points made by our guests during the interview. Then, the natural flow seems awkward, and we even ask questions that have already been answered.
To help, reduce nearby distractions. Focus on your guests, not the next question.
Here are some handy tips to help you listen more carefully…
Don’t interrupt your guest when they are speaking.
That, to me, is the biggest mistake to make as a podcast host. It usually falls in the line that the host wants to add something “they did as well” that the guest just mentioned, or had the same thought or revelation, or the event happened to them as well. It can easily come off as one-upping your guest.
If a followup question comes to mind, write it down to ask after your guest has finished.
Don’t give verbal agreements to every statement that they make.
Nodding your head is more than enough to let your interviewee know you are listening.
Ask for Stories
Storytelling drastically changes the way our brains work. And listeners love a good story. This goes back to your research, research, research. Know that your guest can give a story about a certain situation.
If you want to persuade and entertain your audience, ask your guests questions to include stories about their experiences. Those memorable moments will capture your listener’s attention and build a relationship with the audience.
Remember to give listeners insight they never expected.
To hone your skills, listen to other interview podcasts. Listen to them from the interviewer perspective.
Respect Your Guest’s Knowledge And Time To Be A Better Podcast Interviewer
- Prep your guest for the interview
- Personalize your scheduling link
- Create a guest and podcast assets page
- Professionally follow up
Connect with me if you would like to talk more about being a better podcast interviewer. My calendar is available on my Circle270Media Podcast Consultants business website at circle270media.com
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Brett Johnson is the owner and lead consultant at Circle270Media Podcast Consultants. With over 35+ years of experience in Marketing, Content Creation, Audio Production/Recording and Broadcasting, the podcast consultants at Circle270Media strategically bring these strengths together for their business Podcast clients.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up time to talk more about your new or established business podcast.