Many podcasts these days often bring different or recurring “guests” on their episodes. This is a popular and proven way to create more engaging content and increase the exposure of your show through your guests’ network. With that being said – you don’t want to be the one who brings highly attractive guests but let your audience down with a mediocre show. It’s always great to improve your skills as a podcaster, and becoming a better podcast interviewer is a key skill to learn if you have other people on your show.
Even if you know the basics, you still have to practice in order to improve this skill and get better on each episode. Want to learn how to become better at interviewing your podcast guest? We’ll share the 7 steps to honing your podcast interviewing skill below.
There are many ways to ruin an interview, but the main way to make it great is to be there for your guest. Help the guest, make them comfortable with the recording, and lead them to the interesting parts of their stories, without “taking over”.
So what are the steps to improve your podcast interviewing skill?
7 tips to help you improve as a podcast interviewer
1. Before anything else – prepare your guest
Setting the expectations is a sure way to start on the right foot. Set a pre-recording call with your guest. Let them know how long you expect the recording to last. What general topics would you touch? Will you send them the questions beforehand or do you want it to be more authentic without preparation. If it’s the latter, try to provide as much context as possible before, so the guest would not be stressed and get stuck on every question.
Additionally, see if there is something that the guest wants to be off limits. You don’t want to make them uncomfortable during the recording.
Sometimes it helps to send your guests a few sample episodes from your podcast or a link to your podcast website.
Furthermore, let them know if you’re going to edit the recording (and then they can regret stuff they say, or take a bit more time to think of answers during the interview) or not. Will you do the recording with video as well? If so, with which tool (Zoom, Riverside.fm, Squadcast, Zencastr)?. Will the video be shared or it’s just for the recording purposes that you use video.
2. Know your guest – or Prepare yourself as the podcast interviewer
To be able to lead the interview to places you want, you should know your guest. What have they been through? Which interesting stories did they share on social media. What have they already told in so many other platforms that repeating it will add nothing to your episode. You can actively search on your own, or you can also ask the guest to send you information in advance.
Many podcast hosts are using social media to crowdsource questions for this specific guest. Not only will it help you understand what is interesting about the guest, but it will also help promote the episode even before it is recorded and shared.
3. Prepare the interview structure – but don’t keep to it at all costs
Your interview should be more than just a conversation that flows to wherever. You should have in mind (or even better, write down) the topics and questions you want to go through during the interview. BUT, don’t stick to it all the time – a fully scripted show isn’t always as interesting as a natural conversation. If the guest is telling a great story that was not planned, or that you planned to touch on later, don’t try to stir him to your agenda. Go with that topic, and find a way to get back to track later on.
Make sure to start with an easy, interesting anecdote, and also end on a high note.
4. Let them talk
As mentioned above – It’s OK to make it more of a natural conversation form rather than a real interview, but make sure to let the guest talk. Your part of the conversation should be more about helping get great stories out of the guest, and less about sharing your experience and thoughts. It’s easy to get carried away in the conversation, commenting about everything. Just make sure that your comments and stories help progress the conversation. Don’t tell the guest’s story or narrative, but try to extract the info from them in an interesting dialog.
Your audience might already know some of the stories and ideas you have in mind – so taking over the conversation might not be the best idea.
5. Active listening as a podcast interviewer- what is it about?
So everybody is talking about active listening, but what does it really mean? It means you should try to listen to what is being communicated, rather then just hear a bunch of words. It will require a lot of attention, making sure you do not get distracted and your mind does not drift away.
Few tips to help you achieve active listening:
- Write down key quotes or ideas that your guest has mentioned.
- Repeat some of the content your guest said.
- Try to phrase what your guest said in a different form or sum up segments of the show.
In the end of it, just try to really listen and hear what your guest has to say, without thinking about your next questions.
6. Avoid interrupting your guest
There are actually 2 different tips in this step. First, we tend to make an agreeing sound when we’re speaking with another person. We do not recommended that you do it during a podcast interview. It’s better to let your guest talk, and if you record with video, just do a gesture with your head.
The second part of this step, is mastering the skill of not interrupting your guest, while still being in charge of the flow and stirring the conversation. If the guest is talking non-stop or jumping from a topic to another topic without leaving you a space to join in, you definitely learn how to treat it.
7. Most importantly – have fun!
The most important tip is for you to have fun at the interview. Choose guests that truly interest you. Ask questions that are new, inspiring, you can’t find at any other place.
When you enjoy making the podcast, the guests can enjoy as well – and the listeners can feel it too.
Final thoughts – podcast interviewer tips
Once your episode is ready, it’s a good idea to put it on a podcast website, where you can display the show notes, transcripts, and more info about your guest. If your guest mentions a book, tv show, a website, or any other recommendation, you can tell your listeners that the link will appear in the show notes – making it easier for them to find the things you talked about.
You can easily create a podcast website with Podcastpage.io. It pulls automatically all your episodes and show notes from your RSS feed, and keeps up to date with future episodes.