What can a podcast host do to increase the quality of their interviews? While I’m not claiming there is a magic bullet to having a good interview, I do believe there are some key things anyone can do, which I teach in our Mission Matters Podcast School.
The first thing a podcast host should do to set the tone of their interview is to make the guest feel comfortable. I’ve seen many podcasters use different methods to accomplish this task. Some podcasters have a pre-call with their guest to review the interview and make a game plan for what the show will be about. While that may work well in the beginning when you’re guests are likely people you know or colleagues in your network, that’s not likely to work when you have higher profile guests or are working through publicists.
The solution is to have a process in place that shows you are professional and prepared. Think about it this way, if you went to the doctors office and the doctor seemed unprepared or like they were “winging it,” how comfortable would you feel? Exactly. That initial trust is so important and sets the tone of the interview. Our process includes having the guest or publicist fill out a questionnaire that asks appropriate questions catered to the interview. I choose to make our form short and sweet, but I’ve seen others use long forms successfully. (Finish reading the last on our website).
Another vital piece of setting a guest at ease is sending them your media kit. Media kits don’t have to be complicated. My first media kit was simply a one pager introducing myself and the show. As the show grew and the body of work increased, the kit grew in tandem. If you are just starting out, don’t be intimidated by this. People are forgiving. Going through the trouble of creating a media kit and sending it to your guest puts you in the upper echelon of podcasters even if you’ve never recorded a single episode. Not to pick on the podcasters reading this whose shows I may have been on, but I rarely if ever receive a media kit from other podcasters.
The next step will vary depending on the size of the show and types of guests you are interviewing. You should have completed some type of research on your guest. More experienced podcasters may be able to get away with doing less research. This is because they are usually able to connect the guest with the overall feel and flow of the show. However, if you don’t know what that means, it’s a safe bet that you should probably do a little more research. Make no mistake, it may seem easy, like a simple conversation that is being recorded. But that’s not the case. You are making an impression on both your guest and your audience with every word you say.
For example, I was once being interviewed on a show and the guest congratulated me on writing my first book. The problem was I already published over 20 by that time. While I was in no way insulted, I politely let him know that I published other books. He asked the follow-up question of, “oh really, how many?” He walked into that trap himself in error. After I told him the quantity of books, it didn’t seem like he ever recovered or fully got his confidence back. Now I didn’t mind personally, I think the host is a great guy. But if I was a subscriber to his podcast, it may make for a slightly less enjoyable listening experience.
So now you are ready for interview day. You sent your guest or their publicist a media kit. They were able to schedule the interview seamlessly because you used a calendar scheduling software. And let’s not forget that they filled out your questionnaire so you have topics outlined. At this point you should be feeling prepared and like you are in good shape.
Where I see many podcasters drop the ball at this point despite being prepared is there a lack of energy when welcoming the guest. That initial millisecond or connection can make or break the content you get from the guest. I don’t mean the guest won’t be prepared or have answers to your questions. I mean that by greeting them like you would a friend with a big smile on your face, even if there is no video or you are not in person, will warm them up to you. The audience will benefit from this with a higher quality episode and you will also enjoy your career as a podcaster much more.
People ask me all the time how I can record 70+ podcast episodes weekly so consistently. The secret is I feel like I’m talking to a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time. If I was greeting a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time, I don’t care how bad my day is going or how tired I am. I would jump up and greet them and be excited just to hear the sound of their voice. If you do that, your audience will be excited to hear the sound of your voice every time you release an episode. If you’re reading this and have been on one of our shows, it’s like I always say, we are just one big podcasting family.
If you are looking to take your podcasting game to the next level or to start a brand new podcast, enroll in our Mission Matters Podcast School. Would be great to work with you.
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