I love podcasting. You get the opportunity to speak to heroes, zeroes and notables.
Here are four tips that will help you have better success when interviewing guest for your show. There are probably more embedded in here but you decide.
On a podcast, the host (you) should remember that the audience is the real recipient of the information you glean and not you. You are talking as an interpreter. Fight the urge to tell all you know. You will actually get more information if you can channel your inner child waiting to be taught.
Build rapport. Laugh. Smile. Be respectful, be honest, and smile when you are talking. Even through a telephone or microphone, I think, humans can tell when you are paying attention, interested, and in a good mood. One of the ways to help them is to begin the conversation before you record it. Allow them to get the rhythm of how you speak and ask questions. Ask the demographic questions (name age, favorite colors, etc) and exchange the pleasantries before you need to. After your rapport is built, let them know the type the questions that are coming. Some interviewers send the questions ahead of time but a simple mention of where you are going will save them time thinking and lessen the number of pauses, “umms” and other sounds. It will also make your show smoother.
Ask “open ended” questions. Open-ended question are those questions that do not end in one-word responses. Questions that begin with “how”, and “what” are some of the strongest open ended questions. As the interviewer, have a conversation but not a debate. That is different all together. Fight the urge to tell your viewpoint while you have them online unless that is what your show is about.
If you are using video, like Skype or Google Hangout on Air, be wary of what you are doing and where you are. It can be a distraction. If you don’t need it, for example, if you are using Skype for your audio interview, I suggest you turn off the camera feature. The nuances of body languages and facial expressions that acknowledge you understood the subject being interviewed will not be transferred in audio. If you love being on camera, know that everyone is judgmental. You should dress and look as best you can for it or you will hurt your credibility.
Listen and Follow up. You will know you are doing great when they tell things that you didn’t ask. Make sure you listen so that you can follow up and dig deeper for your listener. Be an “active listener.” Your responses can limit what they will say. Your silence is golden. People have a tendency to fill blank space with noise. If its good stuff, keep it, if they don’t say anything you can edit it out later. If you don’t say anything, they usually will.
I believe that everyone has their own rhythm and style. Find what works for you and polish it. You don’t have to copy anyone but you should be “comfortable in your own skin”. Everybody has a great story to tell and it’s your fault if you don’t allow him or her to get to it. You’ll know when you are doing well because your subject will be chattering and you’ll have more information than you can use. You can then use close-ended questions to stop the flow of info and turn off the “faucet.” (yes and no responses) Remember to take what works and leave the rest.
I learned how to interview as a police officer and later as an intelligence officer for the US government. Elicitation is great skill and you can become really good at it with practice. As a podcaster I have had some great guest like the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, politicians, and even actors like Ernie Hudson, Tim Abell, and R. Lee Ermey. After seven years of podcasting, the list is now over 100 people.
Points to remember:
- Build rapport early
- Be attentive
- Turn off the camera on Skype when interviewing for audio only.
- Ask “open ended” questions
- Wait for the response
- Know that the audience is the focus and not you.
Everybody has a story to tell. It’s your job to find it, and you can do this well!
Hollywood Straight Shooters I have met: Erik Estrada, Joe Mantegna, Patrick Kilpatrick, Tim Abell
As it is with everything, practice can make you better. We talk all the time, but we don’t always listen.