The key to interviewing a guest is preparation. A host should prepare for an interview in several tasks before the interview. such as research, mapping out the interview, and testing the software. This article will go over the basic concepts of interviewing. For those still on the fence about doing interviews. They will learn the benefits of interviewing along with the downsides. Then, everyone will learn how to find guests for their podcast.
Assume the Audience Knows Nothing
Introduce the guest. Let the audience know who the guest is and what they are going to discuss on the podcast. Start a conversation in the middle will confuse the audience. If the audience cannot catch up to the conversation they will stop listening.
Start off Light
A guest may not have experience being on a podcast. For that reason they may be nervous. Starting out with easy questions gives them the opportunity to relax. They will be more comfortable answering complex questions later. The interview can start with the guest’s background. Which is a question a guest does not have to put much thought into answering.
Only Ask Open Ended Questions
By asking open ended questions the guest can expand on the question. Open ended questions make transitions from questions smooth. Instead of asking “Do you live in New York City?” Ask “Why do you enjoy living in New York City?”
Have A Goal
Having a goal for an interview makes directing the interview easier for a host. If a host knows the goals or an interview the host can shape the interview around the goals.
Let Guests Know Things Can Be Edited Out
A guest may be afraid to be open on the podcast if they think that a host will publish anything said. A get will relax more knowing the ability to edit out is available.
A host might have an outline of questions for an episode. If the interview goes beyond the outline do not force the conversation back to the outline. Doing so may make the conversation sound awkward.
Avoid asking questions that might make the guest feel awkward
When a guest is recording an episode they are doing the host a favor. Do not blindside them with questions that will make them feel uncomfortable. Questions about money or politics or personal relationships might make a guest uncomfortable.
Give the guest the first question ahead of time
Giving the first question ahead of time gives the podcast some flow. The guest already knows what to say before the podcast starts. The guest will get in the flow of answering a question for the next questions. At the same time the guest will not have an awkward pause on the first question.
A guest will become bored if a host asks questions that they have answered a million times. The quality of their answers will decline if the guest gets bored of answering a host’s questions.Do research by reading their content. Going through previous interviews that they have done is another option. A host can ask about a piece of content that the guest has created or a previous interview.A host should not ask Bill Burr why he started his podcast. He has answered that question dozens of times even in the past year.
Make sure to allow the guest to mention anything you may have missed
Ask “is there anything you would like to mention?” People go on podcasts to promote their work. If a guest does not get to promote their work the guest might tell other about their bad experience. If the word gets around that a host creates a bad experience for guests the new people will not want to be guests. Making it more difficult to create podcast episodes with guests.
Before the interview a host should test the software. To make sure there are no technical issues before the interview. During the interview if a technical issue comes up that is a waste of a guest's time. The problem makes the host look foolish and could leave a bad impression.
Rapid Fire Questions
Rapid fire questions are lazy. These types of questions are lazy because the hosts do not have to do as much research for the interviews. Soon, the guests will start to have the same answers, lowering the quality of the interviews. Hearing the same answers over and over will make listeners bored. There is a chance they will stop listening to the podcast.
Express your opinion or add comments
Most likely the listeners are listening to hear what the guest has to say. Don’t waste the listeners and guests’ time with comments. If an opinion is necessary, release a separate commentary episode.
Jump right into the interview
Meet with the guest before. The time before the interview is time to test the software and to make sure there are no problems. Using the time to get to know the guest and give the guest a chance to be more comfortable with the host.
Interrupt the guest
Interrupting the guest might make them feel uncomfortable.Hosts invite guests to speak, let them speak. Interrupting the guest disrupts the flow of the interview. Which might make the guest lose their train of thought.
In preparation for an interview a host should have a list of questions. The amount of questions depends on the amount of time expected for the interview. For a 30 minute interview a host should have half a page of questions. and another half page for every extra 30 minutes. This strategy of preparation is to avoid having some time left and having no questions for the guest . At the same time, the interview might need editing. Which might make the episode shorter than expected if a host is not prepared. If every question is not answered then there’s no problem, have them as a guest for a second time.
Map out the interview
After creating the list of questions then create a flowchart. The chart for the questions has potential answers to the questions. The chart gives a host an idea how to transition from question to question. For example if I am interviewing Bill Burr and ask him what his favorite aspect of being a comedian is. He might say “standup” or “writing jokes.” If he says writing jokes I can ask him what his process is for writing jokes. If he says stand up I could ask him about any funny hecklers he’s encountered.Below is the flowchart I used for my first interview.
For some guests being a guest might be their first experience with podcasting. The guest might start their own podcast after being a guest. There is a chance they might invite the host of the podcast to be a guest on their new podcast. This gives the host an opportunity for the audience of the podcast to grow by being a guest on a podcast.
Less speaking for host
If the interview is going well the guest should be doing most of the talking. Which is a big relaxing break from hosting a solo podcast where the host does all the talking.
Having to search for a guest
When having a guest on a podcast a host needs always search for guests. No guest is ever guaranteed to be able to be a guest until the recording ends. Once someone agrees to be a guest they might have an emergency that prevents them from recording. Which leaves a host without a guest or even an episode. Time spent searching for guests may lower the quality of the episode. The amount of time between recordings may be different. A host might have less time to prepare for the interview.
Inconsistency of quality
Guests will have different amounts of experience with podcast interviews. Some guests may be doing their first interview. Other guests will be doing their 10th podcast interview. The differing experiences will impact the quality of the interview. A guest with less experience might be nervous being on the podcast. Which could impact the quality of the episode.
For the actual interview a podcast needs certain equipment and software to record. There are differences between a remote and in-person interview.
For a remote interview a host needs a microphone, remote recording service, and editing software . Plug the microphone in and give the recording service permission for the microphone. The service will then record the host and guest, giving 2 audio files to download. Take the 2 audio files and upload them to the editing software. Go to Tracks in the toolbar then Mix then Mix and Render. The process will make the files into one file.
I have no experience doing in-person interviews. I asked for advice from Pradip in the Open Podcast Community and will share his advice here. To record a podcast with many people in the room use a mixer . Plug the microphones into the mixer and the mixer into the laptop. the next step is open the editing software. Then, change the recording channel from mono to stereo and the microphone to mixer in the editing software. Once the settings are correct, record as usual.
The best resource to find podcast guests when starting out is a host’s network. Look for people that create interesting content in the same area of the podcast’s topic. There is someone that has an interesting perspective or has recently released content. They may want to discuss it on the podcast.The next resource to find podcast guests is social media. Find someone with a good reputation related to the podcast’s topic. Find the best form of communication to get in contact with them. Next, get in touch with them and ask if they would be willing to be a guest. A host might find guests on websites that advertise for people looking to be a guest on a podcast. The Open Podcast Forum has a category for looking for a guest or co-host. Find someone that matches the topic of the podcast. Research the person to find specific topics to discuss on the podcast. If there is enough to discuss a host should invite them to be a guest. Once the podcast grows and becomes popular people will reach out to the host and ask to be on the podcast.--After reading this anyone trying to start a podcast should be able to interview someone. If you are having trouble or have any questions join the open podcast community to get some advice.
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This post is an excerpt from the Open Podcast Community book. Which is available for purchase here.
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