Interviewing someone may seem easy, it's just having a good conversation, right? But you will soon find out that if you want to go a bit deeper in an interview, you will need some skills.
After all, you want to take your listeners with you, captivate them, make them curious and keep them engaged...
That is why we are sharing the best tips for a successful podcast interview in this article!
Tip 1: Get to know your guest
To give an interview real depth, it is necessary to know as much as possible about that person. So immerse yourself in the life of your guest. You can do that by...
- check socials like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram
- read any books or articles by that person
- have a questionnaire (short!) filled in beforehand
- Ask acquaintances of your guest for input
Gradually, you will really get to know your guest. And then you can decide which special experiences or insights are worth sharing with your listeners. You can choose different angles that will surprise or amaze and also determine the common thread.
Tip 2: Make a plan
Now that you know your guest, have determined angles and can see a common thread, you can make a plan. Ok, it's a plan, but don't stick to it! Plans often kill spontaneity and that is the last thing you want.
Above all, the plan should help you to keep the focus on your guest. It should give you enough direction to make an interview run smoothly, but also enough room to be surprising and dynamic.
A plan, or script, for your interview may have the following structure:
Tip 3: Listening is an art
You have now studied your guest well, you know what angles to choose, the questions you may want to ask and what is more or less the common thread...
When you start the interview, you don't want to get off to a flying start. If you ask all those questions in quick succession, it can quickly feel like a barrage for your guest.
Good listening is important for asking the right questions. And that requires learning to listen consciously. For some (uuuuh, ok, guilty) that is quite difficult. What can help you to listen well? Well...
Good listening is the recipe for a successful interview. It can make your guest come to new insights that they share in your interview or make statements they have not made before.
And most importantly, with good listening, you give your guest the stage he deserves.
Tip 4: Learn to ask (the right) questions
The word "why" hides a sense of judgement and may make your guest feel accountable. That's not the atmosphere you want to create.
Asking good questions starts with knowing exactly what you want to know. You can achieve this by following tips 1 and 2. Then it is good to know that closed questions can actually reassure a guest, because you use them to determine the direction. A closed question can also serve as a confirmation.
Of course, asking open questions is the best way to get as much out of your guest as possible. Start with "what makes you...", or the words who, which, what, how, with what, why, etc.
Furthermore, do not ask too many questions in quick succession and ask questions that occur to you without fearing that they might be "stupid". Often, the listener just has the same questions in his head ;D.
By the way, we found a very nice article about ask good questions on the Frankwatching blog.
Tip 5: Know your listeners
At the end of the day, you are not making your podcast for you, but for your listeners. So it's good to keep your listeners in mind during the interview. What do they want to know?
Of course, you can do some preliminary work for that. A nice way to do this would be to give your listeners the opportunity to submit questions in advance. Or you can already promote the interview on Clubhouse and ask your listeners for input, perhaps even briefly together with the guest.
When you involve your listeners in the interview, you will notice that this extra interaction can also add surprising twists to your interview. It does take some guts, though, because you have to let your listeners be in charge to some extent ;D.
Bear in mind that a good interview is often rewarded with more listeners for your podcast.
Tip 6: Stay close to yourself
So, it is good to immerse yourself in the other person, have a plan, equip yourself with the right listening and questioning techniques and bring your listeners into the interview. But, ultimately, you have to do it.
Stay close to yourself. Do you feel that a question is uncomfortable? Ask it differently, or dare to name your gut feeling. And always be in contact with your guest. Pick up on his non-verbal communication as well.
And know that when you allow yourself to be vulnerable, the other person will do the same. Feel free to ask about feelings, because that often makes a conversation more accessible, but realise that this comes from both sides.
Just think of interviewers like Matthijs van Nieuwkerk, Eva Jinek or Humberto Tan. They use that mix and know how to create a good balance, which leads to depth and making a real connection.
Learning = doing
To end with a cliché; learning is doing! So, use these tips and by doing many interviews, you will find that you are getting better and better.
And sometimes it helps to listen to examples from other podcasters. On our blog you will find several listening tips for dutch podcasts. So the final tip is; learn from others!
Happy Podcasting 😀