5 Tips For Conducting Powerful Podcast Interviews

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If you’re in the podcasting business, chances are you’re spending a lot of time setting up and conducting interviews.  But just because you’re simply recording an interview, doesn’t mean it’s going to translate across the internet, and into the hearts and minds of your audience.  So here are 5 tips for conducting potent interviews, that will engage and connect with your audience:


Talk To Interesting People

This might seem like a no-brainer, but no one wants to listen to a boring conversation.  Make sure the person you are interviewing has an engaging personality, and relevance to your podcast audience. Make sure they have expertise in the topic of discussion - and that they are excited to share about it.  If the interviewee is witty, play that up and let their personality shine. If the topic is serious, don’t be afraid to let them be honest, and talk from their heart. And by the way, a good way to find interesting people to interview is by asking your audience. Chances are, the people they recommend will have a unique personality, and interesting stories to share.


Be Professional (And Personable)

One of the best way to set your interview up for success, is to establish a professional, yet personable rapport with your interviewee.  From the first time you reach out to the interviewee, whether it be in person or through email, make sure you are portraying yourself in a light that is professional, yet represents who you are, and what you want your podcast to be. When it’s time for the actual interview, be punctual and prepared. The last thing you want to do is keep your interviewee waiting on you. Make sure the interview space is quiet and comfortable. Have a snack and some refreshments available.  Ensure that your recording equipment is set up, tested and ready to go. These are simple things that will give the interviewee a sense that they are engaging with a professional who takes his or her craft seriously.  


Keep It Simple

Although it’s tempting to go into an interview with a list of 50 questions, it’s more reasonable (and effective) to trim it down to 10 (or less).  In my preparation and research for interviews, I like to address the following questions: What is it about this person that I find interesting? What are the major life events or accomplishments that have defined this person’s life?  What contributions has this person made to the arena and topics we’ll be discussing.  Once you've sorted these questions out, build your list of interview questions/ topics.  And although every podcast is different, I’d say a rule of thumb in general is that shorter is sweeter. People have short attention spans and get distracted easily.  Make sure your interview and discussion is on point and focused. This will make the final product more potent (and not to mention, cut down significantly on the editing - which is another subject).


Keep It Real

When someone agrees to be interviewed for your podcast, they are taking a risk.  They are essentially giving you permission to share their personal experience with the world - and this should not be taken lightly.  That being said, it's important that you, as an interviewer, make your interviewee feel safe, and as comfortable as possible.  A great way to do this is to be yourself.  Be genuine and engaged.  Be non-judgmental.  Be interested in what they are talking about.  Be empathetic.  You'd be amazed at how these seemingly small and subtle techniques, can turn an ordinary interview into a truly powerful audio experience. 


Listen More, Talk Less

This is a piggy-back off 'keeping it real', and I can’t stress it enough.  One of the most common pats-on-the-back I get from listeners, is that I do a good job of giving my interviewees ample space to talk.  Now I realize that all podcasts are different.  But for shows that are one-on-one interviews or storytelling-based, it’s imperative to let your interviewee do most of the talking.  Ask open-ended questions, or if your interviewee touches on something you find interesting, ask them to expand on that.  If an interviewee is talking about something that is heartfelt or emotional, ask them how it makes them feel - and give them room to share more about the topic or experience.  All of these things will lead to a richer interview, and a more powerful listening experience for your audience.