You might me able to carry on a podcast all by yourself -- and that's great, but you might find that by bringing others onto your show it can add valuable content that your listeners wouldn't otherwise get. This is where interviewing comes in.
You might be thinking, "I can ask people questions... what's so difficult about that?". Here is what you need to know: Interviewing is not the same as asking people questions.
Interviewing is a skill where as asking questions is an action.
When I launched my book
back in 2004, I did what was called a "radio tour" that was setup by my publicist at the time. This included 50 phone interviews with radio stations across the country. I was quite surprised how bad most of these people interviewing me were -- and that was their job! I learned a lot from this experience that I have been applying to my interviewing others over the years. So after several hundreds of interviews later, here are ten tips I can share that will help you conduct a great interview.Listen.
I can't tell you how many people who interview me don't really listen to me. They have their written questions they want to ask, they ask, then they move on to the next one despite my answers. The best way to conduct an interview is to be more conversational. This lets the person you are interviewing know that you are person too, and you are just two people talking. It also shows that you actually care about what the person you are interviewing has to say.Think about what your listeners want to hear.
What is your podcast about? What is the show about? You may have a fascinating guest who had climbed Mt. Everest, but your show is on recycling. If you ask too many questions about Mt. Everest you could quickly lose your audience. Conduct all interviews with your listeners in mind.Transition.
Jumping from one unrelated question to another is awkward and kills the flow of a good interview. Do your best to transition from one question to another. First, organize your questions in a way that the previous question can be related to your next question. If that is not possible, use phrases like, "Let's talk about XYZ for a moment..." or something similar that lets your guest and audience know you are changing directions.Follow up
. When you ask a question and your interviewee gives you a shocking or "wow" type of answer, you need to improvise and add a followup question or two that is most likely on your listener's minds. If you don't, it will be obvious you are not listening. For example, if you ask "So what did you do this summer?" and the answer is, "I spent my summer in a Columbian prison." You had better follow up something!Be prepared.
You might think that it would be wise to know as much about your interviewee as possible before the interview, but I don't think that would be the best idea. By knowing too much, you put yourself in a different position than your audience and you may neglect to ask questions to which you already know the answers. By being prepared, you should have ready a series of questions that you want to make sure are asked. Use those questions as a guideline and feel free to improvise.Ask real questions.
My biggest pet peeve when being interviewed is the "non-questions" that are asked of me. "So Bo, I read your book and it was inspiring..." (long awkward pause). That is not a question! I am waiting for the question, but it never comes! The question is implied but makes for an uncomfortable moment of silence and sets a bad precedent for the rest of the interview -- that is, jump in and talk even when you are not asked a question. Make sure your questions are questions.Put your interviewees at ease.
If possible, chat before hand and let your interviewee know that the show could be edited, it's not live, there are few live listeners, whatever will put them at ease (make sure it is true!) Ask them if they have any questions. You can also use humor to relax them. An interviewee at ease makes for a better interview.Avoid awkward silence.
As the interviewer, it is your job to make sure there is no dead air. Be ready.Be prepared to bail out your interviewee if needed.
Quite often your guest can get tongue tied or forget what he or she was going to say next. You need to sense this happening and jump in with the save. Although it is not usually the best conversational tactic, you might try to finish the sentence for the guest. It is better than letting the guest crash and burn.Respond vocally, but do not over do it.
"Sure", "I see", "really?", "I did not know that.". These are all verbal acknowledgments that you are listening to your guest. Well placed, they are great tool, but misused, they are annoying and will damage your credibility. Be sincere, not annoying.
Interviewing is indeed an art. Learn these few skills and this will add a new level of professionalism to your podcasts.
Bo Bennett, PhD
The Dr. Bo Show > http://www.TheDrBoShow.com
About Me > http://www.bobennett.com
Online Courses I Teach > http://www.bobennett.com#onlinecourses
Speaking Availability / Interviews > http://www.bobennett.com#speaking
My Published Books > http://www.bobennett.com#books
Podcasts I Host > http://www.bobennett.com#podcasts