I’m a podcast fanatic – I soak up fresh interviews every week. I devour the wisdom of a clever podcast like a hungry soul, and I can honestly say some podcasts have changed my life.
As a recovering journalist, I can get quite restless when listening to interviews. If they’re super interesting and juicy, I’ll hang onto every word. If they’re not moving at a good pace, or I can’t hear one side of the conversation, I won’t finish it. I know they can be tricky to get right, so I came up with ten points to help you make magic every time.
So what makes for a good interview? Here are my thoughts…
- Do your research on the subject you’re talking about as well as the person you’re talking to. This is critical. When you know more, you can move fluidly, dancing around topics and ideas, and get some gold along the way.
- Interview people who are fascinating, have an interesting story, and are great talkers. Find their passions and bring to life their unique story. Be curious. And write an introduction for them, don’t ask them to introduce themselves.
- Get yourself pumped before you start with a little disco party or large pot of tea/coffee/plate of brownies. Rehearse the questions with a firm, clear voice and a smile – if it’s your first time, record yourself asking the questions, listen to the recording, and take notes. Even if the subject matter is delicate, your voice needs to be clearly audible.
- Keep up a nice, swift pace. Podcast interviews should sound like an inspiring conversation between two people. When things start to drag along, you need to bring it back to a sweet rhythm. Don’t let the interviewee take 20 minutes to answer one question (unless that’s how you roll).
- Create a seamless flow. Flow comes from having a clear direction that you want your interview to take – a list of questions that work well, one after the other, is a good place to start – as well as the ability to respond to the other person in the moment. Listen intently to what they’re saying, and ask them to clarify anything that you’re curious about. If you’re curious, your listeners will be curious.
- Learn how to segue. Fun conversations will eventually take a turn down an unexpected path, and the best way to bring it back to your questions is to segue smoothly. Such as: “Speaking of meditation, I wanted to ask you about your daily routine”. Segues can be hard when there’s no obvious way to connect the current conversation to the next question; so when in doubt, say: “Another subject I wanted to dig into today was…”.
- Pause. The real stardust in an interview often lies after a pause. Let them answer each question, but leave space to let them continue if you have a feeling they have more to say. You need to keep things moving, but there’s no need to rush.
- Keep focused on your interviewee. It’s easy to get excited about a topic that arises and want to tell your story, but there’s limited time for your stuff in an interview. As awesome as you are, the podcast is not about you. Feel free to jump in anytime, but personal references need to be relevant and brief.
- Don’t let the listener get distracted. Get yourself a good microphone, record in a space with limited background noise (preferably a studio – or at least close your windows and curtains at home and ask the neighbour to turn off the leaf blower for an hour), take off noisy jewellery, and use a quiet ballpoint pen to take notes during the interview.
- Be on time. Be openly grateful. And finish when you say you will.
Above all, the best thing you can do is bring out the humanity of another person.
Tell their story, flaws and all. Ask considered questions. And never stop searching for the gold.
Thanks for sharing…