Hello Big Visionaries! Are you wondering how to prepare for your first podcast interview? Or have you had a podcast for a while, but feel like your questions aren’t getting the result you’d like?
For about seven years, I hosted and produced The Big Vision Podcast and the Arts and Healing Podcast. The East Bay Express even named me the Best Podcaster and Blogger Dedicated to Social Change!
A Big Vision Podcast listener reached out recently to ask for podcast interview tips. In case you have a podcast, or want to start one, I thought I’d share with you what I shared with her.
I believe that a good podcast host focuses less on their performance and more on creating a nurturing experience for their guest. When you focus on how to make your guest feel safe and comfortable, your interviews will deepen.
1. Offer a warm, clear, and appealing invitation.
In her book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters, Priya Parker talks about how a gathering begins even before the guests arrive. Everything from the invitation to all of the communications they receive before they walk through the door are a part of the gathering.
Whether you email your potential guest directly, or contact their assistant, or PR person, keep it concise. They’re busy. Be clear about why they’d be a good fit for your show, how much time it will take out of their life, and how it will benefit them. Also, show that you’ve taken the time to know and appreciate their work.
Sample podcast guest email invite
Subject: Name of your podcast interview request
Hi guest name,
I saw you speak at venue about topic OR I just finished reading your book title about topic and would love to interview you about topic for my podcast, podcast name, where I talk with people who theme of your show.
You can check out the show at link. (Here’s where you can briefly add listener numbers, awards, and / or the number of people you’ll share the interview with on your email list and social media. If you don’t have a lot of this info, it’s OK. Just do the best you can).
If this is something that would interest you, are you available to meet in month? We’ll chat on recording medium and the whole process will take about x minutes.
Some possible recording dates and times are: date, date, date, or date.
#2 Help them prepare.
Like most people, your guest is probably busy. And they may be nervous. A day before the interview, send them a reminder email with the time and any technical info (e.g. wear a headset and be in a quiet room). I also like to send the questions beforehand and say something like, “Below are some of the types of questions we might discuss tomorrow. Of course, based on your responses, our conversation may take another direction.”
Some people will never look at the questions, but some will. And the ones who do will give better answers.
#3 Build trust before you hit record.
The day of the interview might be the first time you speak with your guest. You only have a few minutes to help them feel at ease and welcome in your podcast “home.”
How to help them feel comfortable.
• Be friendly! It’s not your job to show them how smart you are. It’s your job to make them feel at ease.
• Familiarize them with the flow of the show. If you do anything at the beginning and end of the show that they should know about (e.g. read an introduction, pause for ads, etc.), let them know.
• Give them a heads up that you might interrupt. Sometimes when people are passionate about a topic, they can talk for 20 minutes about one question. The thing is, you have a bunch of topics you’d like to cover, so if that starts to happen, you’re going to need to interrupt them. I like to say something like, “So, the show is about thirty minutes long and I have 6 or 7 questions I’d love for you to answer, so if at any point I interrupt you to ask another question, it’s not because I’m not interested. I just want make sure the listeners get to hear what you have to say about a range of things.”
• Remind them they don’t have to be perfect. I edited my podcast interviews myself, so I always told guests them that if they wanted to start over and redo a question that was OK. I could edit out their first answer. No one ever took me up on the offer, but I think it helped to relax them knowing that they could if they needed to.
#4 Take them on a gradual journey with your questions.
Start with easy questions and then move gradually into deeper questions. Here’s a sample podcast interview question framework for you to build off of:
- Broad question about their topic, book, project, organization, program, etc.
- Specific question about their topic, book, project, organization, program, etc.
- Example that will help your listeners understand their topic better.
- Story about their topic that will draw in your listeners.
- Personal question (if appropriate) that will help your listeners feel connected to your guest.
- Tool, tip, or advice your listeners can try.
- Anything else they’d like to share before you close. This often gives the best answers!
When your guest feels safe, nurtured, and comfortable, it will be easier for them to share their authentic self and give answers that will be meaningful and valuable for your listeners.
If you’d like help clarifying and communicating your Big Vision, let’s chat!
Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash